The Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson have had a bonus of rain this month, so if visiting a creek bursting with water is something you consider a real treat, head to Madera Canyon for an early morning walk or bring along breakfast to cook outdoors. Since Madera Canyon is at about 5000 feet in elevation, it is much cooler than Tucson, but the afternoons can still get pretty warm. You also don’t want to get caught behind a running wash, so morning is the best time to visit.
There are two spots accessible to Madera Creek. The Proctor Parking Area, at the base of the canyon, has handicapped accessible trails and other facilities including toilets and water. There is an interpretive ramada, too, explaining the nature of the Santa Ritas. The trail is paved and easy, with places to sit creekside for a bit to eat or engage in some birdwatching.
Another good spot for a picnic is the Madera Picnic Area. Here you will find picnic tables, grills and toilets. This is a popular spot in the winter, but summer is sure to be a lot quieter. This area is right on the creek, so you don’t have to go far to experience the rushing water.