Monday, September 1, 2014

Palisade Trail August 23, 2014

                              Beautiful multi-colored mushroom on the trail

Location: Take the Catalina Highway 19 miles to the Organization Control Road right before the Palisade Ranger Station.The trailhead is 3/4 of a mile on the right.

The Hike: The Palisade Trail, nine miles, starts in the pine forest of Mount Lemmon and ends at Sabino Canyon. It gives hikers the opportunity to see the main vegetation types of southern Arizona including pine forests, oak woodlands, grasslands with Ocotillo and finally Saguaro cacti. This trail looses about 3800 feet of elevation so it is steep in places. Some route finding skills might be necessary on this route. Please inquire with rangers about trail conditions near the East Fork of Sabino Canyon.

Trail Description: The first four miles I was on the trail is well-worn and easy to follow. After leaving the trail head it follows the upper part of Palisade Canyon on Organization Ridge. Here there are a few trails that descend to the creek below and its beautiful pools. At 0.8 miles a side trail ascends to a Girl Scout Camp be sure to keep hiking straight. In this section of the trail I saw a number of different species of mushroom. After a mile the trail descends into Pine Canyon. Here it appeared the forest burned so this was definitely the hottest section of the hike. After about 2.3 miles the trail reaches Mud Spring which is not a reliable source of drinking water.After crossing the creek the trail ascends to the western side of the canyon. In this section look for a beautiful waterfall in Pine Canyon. After 3.5 miles the trail reaches a bluff with a beautiful view of the East and West Fork of Sabino Canyon as well as Tucson, Arizona, and the Rincon Mountains. From here it appeared that the trail descended rapidly to the East Fork so I chose this bluff as a nice spot to turn around.  Total mileage for the day was about eight miles (plus a short excursion to a nice lunch spot). Some information from Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country by Erik Molvar) 

                                    Pine forest on the upper section of the hike


                             Wild-dwarf morning glory

                      Great lunch spot

                         Looking into the Catalina Mountains

                                              East from the turnaround bluff

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