This past Spring I discovered a gem about 40 minutes east of Tucson called Cienegas Nature Preserve. The preserve combines many of my passions into one area including train watching, hiking, and riparian areas.Since my first visit with Q I have been back multiple times. The main entrance point is at the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead on Marsh Station Road. This trailhead is one of the main access points for the Arizona Trail in this area as well as providing access to trails that run along Cienegas Creek. The Union Pacific operates on two tracks in the area so there are many locations to view trains in the area. For train watchers the best place to watch trains is just passed Gabe Zimmerman where trains cross Cienegas Creek on a large trestle. Be sure to not walk on the railroad tracks and always expect a train.
The Pima County regional Flood Control District acquired 4,000 acres in order to preserve and protect a perennial stream as well as biological resources in the area. Because of the mission at Cienegas, Pima Country requires visitors to acquire a permit which is free of charge. There are also regulations that seek to preserve the stream including dogs having to be on leash, no campfires, no shooting and no camping. (Information from http://webcms.pima.gov)