Directions: The Butterfly trail is located off of the Catalina Highway near Tucson, Arizona. Don't start looking for the trail head until you have driven over 20 miles. Along the way are a number of beautiful pull-offs including Windy Point Vista and San Pedro Vista. Remember a visitor pass ($5 for a day and $20 for the year) is required to park at picnic areas and trail heads in the Coronado National Forest. For this hike I did not start the Mount Bigelow trail head but the one above it near the Palisade Ranger Station.
The Hike: The trail starts off in the shade with towering Ponderosa pines and Douglas fir. After ascending over a small ridge the trail enters a landscape that is recovering from a fire in 2003. This part of the hike is not shaded and can get hot in the afternoon make sure to wear a hat and sunblock. In this area the Crystal Spring trail departs at a well-signed junction. After three miles the trail reaches a ravine with a creek that flows during the monsoon period. An unmarked trail takes visitors to a waterfall and beautiful lunch spot. At a point where the trail ascended precipitously to Mt Bigelow Nathan and I turned around. Throughout the trip I saw a profusion of columbine in the creek beds as well as Daisies and Corral bells along the trail. Views were predominantly of the San Pedro Valley and distant Mount Graham. Total Mileage was about 7.4 miles with 1500 feet of elevation gain.