Monday, December 2, 2013
Tumamoc Hill is a great evening hike in Tucson because of the view of Tucson and surrounding mountains. Hikers also do not have to worry about foot placement after dark because they are walking on a road and not a rocky trail. Do not let its popularity fool you because this is still a pretty difficult hike with elevation gain over 1500 feet and distance of three miles. (For directions to the trail head please consult my September 27, 2013, post on Tumamoc Hill).
On Sunday the weather cleared in the Tucson area after a Friday and Saturday filled with rain. (Most places in Arizona received over two inches of rain smashing their average November totals. In fact this was the first time in over thirty years that the El Tour De Tucson bicycle race had significant rain). Early in the afternoon on Sunday I returned to Saguaro Park East to take advantage of the cool dry weather to hike the Cactus Forest Trail. (Entrance fee is required because this hike is in a national park). Trail head parking is available on the Cactus Forest drive. The trail is five miles round trip with very little elevation gain. There is a side trail that branches off a mile and a half into the hike which takes visitors up a side wash for approximately half a mile. Including various side trips I hiked about 6.5 miles.
I would recommend this hike for anyone unacquainted with Sonoran Desert vegetation. All major cactus species are present including Hedgehog cactus, Ocotillo, Saguaro, Prickly pear, Barrel cactus, Teddy bear cholla, and Chain colla. Palo verde and Mesquite are also prevalent. Keep an eye out for wildlife as well including rattlesnakes, Javelina, Coyotes, Roadrunners and different species of raptors.