Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Garwood Trail Loop Saguaro National Park East March 17, 2014


If I start hiking later in the day the Cactus Forest of Saguaro National Park East is one of my favorite places to hike It is possible to create a loop of five miles or a longer day hike of around 10 miles. On Monday I reached the Douglas Spring trail head around 12:40 pm. My objective was a hike around six miles. I accomplished this by hiking mostly on the Garwood, Wildhorse, Carrillo, Pink Hill and Loma Verde trails. Today the sun was definitely intense and I was glad I had three liters of water. Today I met a guy who actually enjoys hiking during the hottest period of the day. He is the first hiker I have ever met who enjoys hiking in 110 degree heat. Overall I hiked around 6.5 miles with minimal elevation gain. If you are looking for more elevation gain I would stay on the Douglas Spring Trail and hike either the Carrillo or Three Tank Trails.



                                           Blooming Ocotillo

Pima Canyon March 15, 2014

                            Scenery in the lower part of the canyon

Location: Pima Canyon is located in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness of Arizona. The best way to reach the trail head  is to take Oracle Road toward Oro Valley.Turn onto Magee Road and drive until you reach the parking lot on the left. Pima Canyon is one over from Finger Rock in the front range of the Catalina Mountains. The Catalina mountains are beautiful but dogs are not allowed in any of the canyons near Tucson because of Bighorn sheep reintroduction.

Nathan and I arrived at the trail head early in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. In fact I saw a huge difference in the amount of water I drank early on in the hike. The trail presented a profile very similar to Ventana Canyon with a couple miles of flat hiking followed by steep sections of rocky trail. If you are hiking to the top expect an elevation gain of over 2500 feet. Throughout the hike this canyon quickly became my favorite in the Catalina Mountains. Dramatic rock walls tower on either side and after three miles the view down canyon is fantastic. This hike is also less popular and it is possible to find solitude. One thing I was not expecting were the abundance of wildflowers along the trail. Nathan and I saw over seven species by the end of the hike.

Special Considerations: In the upper reaches of the canyon the trail becomes overgrown in places so some route finding is needed however I did talk to hikers who had made it up to the crest so the trail is definitely doable. In the final 1.5 miles of the hike we did see a Black-tailed rattlesnake. We gave the snake room and it very quickly became disinterested with us. Remember snakes play a vital role in the ecosystem and the majority of bites occur when visitors try and handle the snake or poke it with a stick. Total mileage was 10.5 miles with 2000 feet of vertical change

                Saguaros with sunlight on them

                             Agave and Ocotillos with the canyon

              Mid morning sun on grass

                           Canyon walls

                        Parry's Penstemon

                             Parry's Penstemon

                          A great lunch spot


               Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Phoneline Trail and Sabino Canyon Road Loop February, 22, 2014

                               On the Phoneline trail looking down Sabino Canyon.

Last weekend I completed a loop at Sabino Canyon by hiking the Phoneline trail to the top of Sabino Canyon and back on Sabino Canyon Roads. This loop is about 8.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1600 feet. This hike has no route finding involved and the trail is easy to follow. However, if you are looking for solitude do not hike this route on the weekend. On Saturday I saw three large groups and the parking area was totally full by 10 am. I would suggest to visit Sabino Canyon during the week or get to the trail head around 8 am. Trams run up and down Sabino Canyon all day so it is possible to take the tram back to the Visitor's Center if you do not want to hike along the road.
                       A picturesque tree along the Phonline

                          Poppies in the Catalinas.

                          Great-tailed Grackle

                        At the top of the Sabino Canyon

                                                On the road.