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Butterfly and Sunset Trail is a 7.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Tucson, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 7.4 mi Elevation gain 2,230 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Bird watching

Forest

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Historic site

Waypoints (0)
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (222)
Photos (218)
Recordings (185)
Completed (353)
Micah Salazar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jun 09 2020
Hiking

Pretty tough loop. Clocked a little over 8 miles but that’s with exploring the wrecked jet. Highly recommend

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Kellie Salter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat May 30 2020
Bugs

Whew!! This is a fun and challenging loop trail! It definitely earns its hard rating, due to the elevation gain and the altitude of the trail. In addition, the trail is not very clearly marked coming down off Mount Bigelow into the campgrounds. We had to backtrack a little bit, thank goodness for this app :-) The views are gorgeous, and there weren't too many folks on the trail. Didn't see a summit sign at Mt. Bigelow (but maybe missed it.) Just the cell towers and electrical station...lol. We started in the Butterfly Trail parking lot and looped all the way around to the Sunset Trail parking lot. Total time 5.25 hrs

Willie Cross
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon May 25 2020
Hiking

Pretty good hike, the Butterfly section is great but coming down off Mt Bigelow is pretty anti-climactic. You get pretty remote during the Butterfly section, so be prepared for potential encounters with bigger animals. Creeks all flowing at this point. Lots of good camping pads along Butterfly if you're looking for an easy overnighter. Side note to a reviewer below: don't give a hike a bad rating because you encountered wildlife and weren't prepared.

Huyen Gunsolley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon May 25 2020
Hiking

We did this long and hard trail yesterday May 24th. temperature was at 41 degree. Very comfortable for this hike. It was a long long trail. Arrived at the Sunset parking lot at 4:45am. Crossed the road and started from the Butterfly trail down. Ended the trail at Sunset parking lot. The map someone had here is correct but the mileage is not. Both of our GPSs show just under 9.5 miles total. The butterfly trail starts at 8000ft, down to 6500ft+ then up to Bigelow at 8900ft+ then down the trail following the road for about a mile, maybe, to the trail (off road). Followed the trail all the way down to the Sunset trail head parking lot. Butterfly trail is a beautiful trail, lots of shades. Not hard just very steep. Definitely not for those with bad knees and out of shape. I'll definitely do this trail again in the fall as there were so many aspen trees along the trail.

Nicole Tevlin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSun May 17 2020
Hiking

Liked the trail until we got 1.44 miles down and heard repeated rustling in the bushes and brush close to the trail. We stopped being the wild life lovers we are and listened.. I went a few feet further and saw large black fur about thirty feet from the trail which resulted in my panic lol. I’ve seen signs for bears but did not think I would ever encounter one. Anyway we quickly and quietly went back up the trail. I’ve read you should back away but that was not possible on a steep narrow incline. Also, we had no weapons. We might consider it in the future just in case. Bummed our hike got cut short but didn’t want to take the chance. It’s easy to think what you’d do until it actually happens.

Courtney Christie
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon May 04 2020
Hiking

I did the entirety of this trail yesterday while the temps hovered around 70° (almost too warm but still nice) from the Butterfly trailhead to the top of Bigelow. It took me just shy of 6.5 hours roundtrip (not including resting time) and my GPS clocked it at 10.9 mi. The scenery was beautiful as always, waterfall (about 1 hr 20 min in) was flowing, and about 10 min after the fall is where the trail splits, and there are rocks defining the Butterfly trail and where you can split off to see the plane (the rocks are marked, I didn’t have time to check it out unfortunately). I went on Sunday and the parking lot was packed, and there were many people on the trail, although traffic thinned out passed the waterfall. Highly recommend this hike for the scenery, but it is definitely a challenging hike with some areas of steep elevation gain. The incline on the way back from the waterfall seems endless. Beautiful trail, but you really earn those views!

Christian Ibañez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Apr 26 2020
HikingRocky
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Coach C.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Apr 26 2020
Hiking

There’s water in the water fall/creek to refill bottles, but carry 3 liters and should be fine without stopping. Some exposed areas to the sun on a hot day like today, so start by 8 AM or ideally 6 AM to avoid the heat. Bugs really only near the wet/moist areas so carry spray if you stop a lot or they bother you. A fit and strong trail runner could run this. My GPS clocked this at 12 miles.

View Coach's Recording
Travis Burch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Apr 25 2020
Hiking

More sun exposure now that there has been in the past. Beautiful trail with lots of columbine promising to flower soon. turn around earlier than you expect as it's all uphill on the way back

Dave Anderson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Apr 18 2020

@taylorwoolverton We found it today. The trail split off was marked by a stone cairn, and orange plastic strips tied to bushes on either side of it. It was about 3 miles in. ^_^

Misty Harpoon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Apr 09 2020
Hiking

@ Taylor Woolverton Here are the coordinates to the plane crash site 32.42549 N, 110.71816 W. See if that helps you

Taylor Woolverton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Apr 05 2020
Hiking

Been on this trail 4 times and have yet to find the plane crash. Directions for finding it are super confusing. Can anyone state how to get to it without saying it’s three miles in? Which trail is it off of when you get to the marker where the trail splits in two different ones?

Paola King
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Mar 28 2020
HikingMuddySnow

So snowy right now. Went the whole way and looped out through sunset. The snow is all packed down now so it’s slick as hell and a little treacherous. And so many fallen trees to climb over.

Jaquelynn Elmer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Mar 25 2020
HikingSnow
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Nathan Caldwell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Mar 07 2020
HikingBlowdownBugsFeeIcyMuddyOver grownRockySnow
Ray Charles Ibarra
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSat Feb 08 2020
HikingIcySnow

Tried to press on even though it was icy, but dog kept sliding everywhere and didn’t want him slipping off the cliff . Recommend doing it by yourself or waiting for the snow/ice to melt.

Will Kauffman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Dec 15 2019
Hiking

good hike went half way and back temp about 35

View Will's Recording
Evan Weaver
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Nov 22 2019

Great hike all in all, trail is poorly marked be sure to map it out before you go in and try and set landmarks. The plane wreckage was cool to see, someone has the trail marked as of two weeks ago to the wreckage with 2 pieces of orange flagging tape. Very little water but the fall colors were beautiful.

Jason Contreras
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Nov 09 2019

Great hike beautiful views and really cool to see plane wreck. The fall colors were amazing!

Yolanda Siqueiros
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Nov 05 2019
HikingOver grownRocky

We parked at the end of Incinerator Ridge Rd and walked a short way up Kellog Trl to butterfly Trl which means we basically did Butterfly backwards. We made it to the airplane wreckage and had our lunch but left right away because we heard a bear snorting in the distance. Going back up was hard bit worth it. Happy hiking!

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