Water is present for most of the year in the larger pools of Slavin Gulch, which serves as the setting for most of this Dragoon Mountains trail. Slavin Gulch Trail connects two 4-wheel drive roads deep in the Dragoons, cutting a course that bears roughly southwest in the shadow of China Peak. There is plentiful evidence that the Apaches used this area heavily before prospectors and cowboys became the most common backcountry travelers in the Dragoons.
Today, recreationists seek out secluded areas such as this to capture a feeling for the past. From the eastern trailhead and its good views of Tombstone and the Huachuca Mountains, the trail drops steeply into Slavin Gulch. Riparian vegetation such as sycamores and cottonwoods hold sway along the floor of the gulch while just a few feet away, plants of the upper Sonoran Desert affirm that this area can be hot and dry much of the year.
Such a diverse habitat and remote setting make this a good place to encounter desert wildlife. Watch for coatimundi and Coues white-tailed deer as you scan the trees for some of the variety of songbirds that either make this small oasis a home or pass through it on their yearly migration. At the southwest end of the trail, access is from the end of a road that requires high clearance as well as 4-wheel drive.
Directions: East access–From Tucson, take I-10 east 72 miles to US 191. Turn right (south) and drive 13 miles to Middlemarch Road. Turn right and drive 8 miles to FR 345A (4-wheel drive). Trailhead is at the end of this road. West access–Take US 80 (south) from Benson. Turn left onto Middlemarch Road (one mile north of Tombstone). At the Forest boundary, turn left onto FR 687. Turn right onto FR 687A (a 4-wheel drive road). The trail starts at the end of the road.
Day Hiking: Riparian setting, Remote and secluded, Watchable wildlife, Apache and mining history. Water can usually be found in Slavin Gulch. Purification of water is recommended prior to use. Otherwise, this area can be hot and dry. Bring plenty of water. Both FR 687A and FR 345A require a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle. USGS Map(s): Cochise Stronghold, Knob Hill