Apparently, spotting birds is a popular thing to do in Madera Canyon, about 20 miles southeast of Green Valley, AZ. That’s what I found out when I went chasing the secret hidden waterfall less than three minutes from the Proctor Trailhead parking lot.
I got a tip about the waterfall from a local and had to go investigate. Sure enough, had I stayed on the beaten (paved) path, I would have never known it was there. As I made my way toward the waterfall the first time, I asked a salty ole chap coming toward me on the trail if he’d found the fall.
“Nope. I wadn’t lookin’ fer it,” he replied.
“Ambassador much?,” I couldn’t help wonder.
I would find out soon enough that people strolling the trails with massive scopes or camera lenses are only there to see birds, not waterfalls. My bad. I had no idea.
I have some tips for those of us that are more into waterfalls than birds. In a nutshell, pay the $5 to park at the Proctor Parking lot. It’s the first parking lot inside the Madera Canyon Recreation Area. Next, set out on the paved trail just to the right of the large map at the trailhead. Keep an eye out for the first opening you see in the trees in the right side of the trail. Follow it down hill toward the creek. Hook another right when you get to the creek.
Video: How to get to the secret hidden falls of Madera Canyon
Step by step directions to the secret hidden waterfall in Madera Creek Canyon:
- Start out on the paved trail from Proctor parking lot.
- Make your way about 200 to 300 yards down the trail.
- Look for an opening in trees on the right (shown below) and take that trail down toward the creek.
- The sound of the fall gets louder and louder as you descend the trail.
- As you get close to the creek, watch for a dogleg turn to your right and follow it downstream.
- Soon you’ll hear the waterfall gushing over the granite wall to your left. From here, you can walk over to the edge and see it cascading down the granite wall.
- If you continue on downstream over the maze of boulders, you’ll reach the creek bank. From here, you’ll be able to look upstream and see the fall in all its glory.
The waterfall is spectacular but there’s plenty more to see once you’ve had your fill there. If you make your way back to the paved trail and head upstream (right) you’ll be treated to one of the most scenic interpretive trails I’ve come across in Arizona.
Along the scenic interpretive trail you’re likely to see:
- Numerous smaller waterfalls
- Whitehouse Ruins site
- Countless birds and other animals
On my Sunday morning stroll I saw turkeys, deer, lizards and a curious squirrel. You’ll cross the creek several times and have plenty of places to sit and absorb the ambiance. Or keep going.
You can hike/walk approximately three miles uphill if you wish, or turn around at any point and retrace your steps back to where you started. From the top of the trail you can continue on one of a half dozen or so mountainous trails that interconnect for a combination of loop and balloon type trails. I would rate this “hike” as easy to moderate. Even though there is some incline to it, much of it is paved with asphalt and it’s very easy to navigate.
Sure, you can go to Madera Canyon to see birds. But if that’s all you’re looking for you’ll miss a whole bunch of other spectacular natural wonders.
Ready to go check it out? Tap the map below to get to Proctor Trailhead.