Miller Canyon Road
Hereford, Arizona 85615
Miller Canyon Trail webpage
Miller Canyon Trail map
Miller Canyon birding (Tucson Audubon Society) webpage
Beatty’s Guest Ranch website
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Miller Canyon (please consider using more specific locations)
Coordinates: 31.4160004, -110.2733002
eBird links: Hotspot map – View details – Recent visits
My eBird links: Location life list – Submit data
Tips for birding Miller Canyon
Among the most productive and accessible locations in the Huachucas are the east slope canyons within the Coronado National Forest: Miller, Carr, and Ramsey. Miller Canyon, south of Ramsey and Carr canyons, had usually been overlooked by birders until relatively recently.
This lovely canyon deserves more attention, particularly since it has hosted a fair number of rarities, including Flame-colored Tanager, Eared Quetzal, Rufous-capped Warbler, Crescent-Chested Warbler, Aztec Thrush, and Brown-backed Solitaire, as well as one of the most accessible pairs of Mexican Spotted Owls. At the end of Miller Canyon Road (2.6 miles from Hwy 92) you’ll find a Forest Service parking area with trail access into the Miller Peak Wilderness Area. The trail is beautiful but steep, rugged, and damaged in places by flooding that followed the 2011 Monument wildfire. Side roads below the trailhead parking offer access to other less intimidating trails, some of which are still in development. As with other mountain sites, Miller Canyon is most productive for birding from April through September.
Just above the trailhead parking at the end of Miller Canyon Road is Beatty’s Miller Canyon Guest Ranch & Orchard. Long known to locals as a source of pesticide-free apples, eggs, honey, and beeswax, the orchard has become the hottest hummingbird-watching spot in Arizona. Owners Tom and Edith Beatty had long fed birds around their home and rental cabins, but in spring of 1998 they added a hummingbird feeding station and hummingbird/butterfly garden for the enjoyment of day visitors. The payoff has been 15 species of hummingbirds (up to 13 at one time) plus an astonishing variety of naturally occurring hybrids. The Beattys have added bleachers, a picnic table and a shade canopy to the Controlled Access Site (CAS) for visitors’ comfort.
Besides the high diversity of “regular” hummingbird species (including White-eared) plus occasional appearances by less reliable rarities (Lucifer, Berylline, and Plain-capped Starthroat), the feeding station is a dependable site for Rufous and Calliope in both spring and fall migration and occasional Allen’s in late summer. The Beattys also have several housekeeping units for rent, each with its own feeders. Like other hummingbird hot spots, the Beattys’ feeding station is best visited April through September. Parking on the Beattys’ property is limited to overnight guests and the handicapped, but there is plenty of shaded parking available in the Forest Service lot below (please park in developed spaces only, taking care not to block the Beattys’ driveway or the public road). The Beattys maintain a few hummingbird feeders at the main entrance (mainly for the benefit of mobility-impaired visitors). A fee of $5 per person, $20 per group is charged for access to the CAS hummingbird feeding station inside the property. As with all privately-owned birding sites, please respect the privacy of the Beattys and their guests, and observe the rules for access to areas not normally open to the public.
From Miller Canyon birding (Tucson Audubon Society) webpage
About Miller Canyon Trail
A fine riparian area, plenty of evidence of the area’s mining past and good views from the Huachuca Crest are some of the rewards you’ll reap along this trail. After detouring around a piece of private property, the trail drops back into Miller Canyon to follow what was once an old mining road. The trail passes the remains of the townsite of Palmerlee and a number of abandoned mining digs as it slants steadily up the canyon. Down in the bed of Miller Creek, which usually has water in it year-round, you’ll be able to see lengths of the old carbon steel pipe which were placed here in the nineteenth century to carry water to the boomtown of Tombstone. Along lower stretches of the trail, large old sycamore trees shade the streambed, and sunlight filters down through the limbs of tall Douglas-firs. There are a number of bigtooth maples along the streambed in this area, too, making it a colorful place to visit in mid to late October when the leaves of these trees paint the canyon in hues of orange, red and yellow. After crossing the stream several times, the trail switchbacks its way up the north side of the canyon into an area that was burned by a large forest fire in 1977. Here, you’ll find good views down-canyon of the San Pedro Valley and the Mule Mountains around Bisbee while Miller Peak stands high above the canyon rim to the southwest. From this point, the trail continues to climb, visiting the stream a couple of more times and passing several more old mine sites before it intersects the Crest Trail #103 high in the Huachucas.
From Miller Canyon Trail webpage