Friday, November 28, 2014

Tumamoc Hill November 8 2014

                                      Cactus in setting sun

Directions: To get to Tumamoc Hill take Speedway 1 mile west to Silverbell. Turn left onto Silverbell Road and drive to West Anklam Road. Park near the St Mary's Hospital parking lot. Parking is available along the street.

Tumamoc Hill has become my favorite evening hike. It offers great 360 degree views and is on pavement so hikers do not have to worry about rocky trails. It is a relatively short hike, approximately 3 miles, and has about 700 feet of elevation gain. This is a very popular hike for Tucson so do not expect to be alone. Recently a male attacked a woman on the trail so as always remain vigilant and keep an eye out.

Special Considerations: Tumamoc Hill is owned by the University of Arizona. Scientists have been conducting experiments since 1908. Please be respectful of this area. The area is open to runners and hikers in the morning and evening.  

                         Looking down the road toward Tucson and the Catalinas

                   Glow of the setting sun

                                Saguaros and the Santa Rita Mountains

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon Loop via the East Fork November 1, 2014

                  Scenery upper part of the East Fork Sabino Creek

Location of Hike: Today's hike begins and ends at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center. From the University of Arizona campus take Campbell Avenue all the way to Skyline Drive. Turn right and drive all the way to Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left and then make an immediate right into the parking lot.

The Hike: By looking at the map I noticed it is possible to connect Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon by way of the East Fork. If hikers take the shuttle to the end of Sabino Canyon this hike is about 10,4 miles if not the Phoneline trail adds another four miles. I took the 9:00 shuttle arriving at stop 9 about 15 miles later. The first part of the trail is steep with hikers ascending about 500 feet, The trail then traverses along the eastern side of Sabino Creek. This part of the trail is extremely scenic with sheer rock walls on the western side of Sabino Creek. Hikers also have a great view of McFall Crags as well as Eye of the Needle. After about two miles the trail descends into the East Fork of Sabino Creek. At this junction go right taking the East Fork Trail. If you go left the West Fork Trail takes hikers to Hutch's Pool a great hike I took last January. The East Fork traverses the southern side of the East Fork as it travels south-east. The environment in this part of the hike is predominately grass with riparian vegetation along the creek. Hikers pass by junctions for two trails: Box Camp  and Palisades Trail which descend from the top of Mount Lemmon. I recently read that the Box Camp trail is no longer maintained. I stopped and ate lunch with a group of hikers at the Palisade Canyon Trail Junction. They started near the top of Mount Lemmon and they informed me that the Palisade Canyon Trail is overgrown and hard to follow.  After this junction the East Fork Trail ascends to a small divide where it is then level for a qaurter of mile before the junction with the Bear Canyon Trail. After entering the top of Bear Canyon, the trail descends quickly through the use of 12 switchbacks to Bear Creek. The trail crosses Bear Creek before traversing the eastern side of Bear Canyon. Views along this part of the trail are stupendous with high rock walls on both sides. When the creek has water I would also watch for water falls and beautiful pools. Just passed Thimble Peak the trail descends to the Seven Falls cutoff. Views around Seven Falls are beautiful with striped Metamorphic rock towering on both sides of the canyon. After the falls the trail stays at the base of Bear Canyon crossing Bear Creek four times. This part of the hike is low altitude and can be hot during the afternoon. Make sure you pay attention because hikers have cut illegal trails to follow the creek or find other pools so it is easy to get of the main trail. Seven Falls is extremely popular with hikers and you will bot be alone. At the base of Bear Canyon hikers can take the Bear Canyon shuttle back to the parking lot or hike the three miles on the road. Total mileage: 10+ (depending on if you take the shuttle) with 1500 feet of elevation gain, (Some information from Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country by Erik Molvar).  

                               Junction at the end of the Sabino Canyon Trail

                                 The East Fork was beautiful

                   Looking northwest toward the Castle

             Upper part of Bear Canyon

                           Beautiful pool and waterfall

                            Saguaros and scenery  near Seven Falls

                        Scenery in Bear Canyon

Romero Canyon, Catalina Mountains October 25, 2014

                           First part of Montrose Canyon

Directions to trailhead: Catalina State Park is located 18 miles north of Tucson on US 89. From the University of Arizona take 1st Avenue toward the Catalina Mountains. Continue driving as if you are going to Oracle. Catalina State Park does require an $8 fee to enter.

The hike: Romero Canyon is one of the many trails in the Catalina Mountains which connect into the trail system for the Catalina Mountains. As a result it is popular trail for backpackers hiking to Mount Lemmon as well as day hikers going to Romero Pools. My objective for today's hike was to see the Romero Pools and possibly hike an extra 1.5 miles toward Romero pass.The trail starts out flat as it crosses a number of small washes in Catalina State Park. After a half mile the trail enters Montrose Canyon which has very dramatic rock walls. In this area a side trail descends to Montrose Pools. After a mile the trail climbs to the Montrose/Romero Divide. This is a 700 foot climb on rocky trail so remember to wear proper foot wear and drink enough water. On this section I saw two or three groups of college students wearing swim wear who looked burned from the sun. The Montrose/Romero Divide is one of the more scenic parts of the trail with great views of Pusch Ridge and the upper peaks of the range. From the divide it is a three-quarter mile descent to Romero Pools. After Romero Pools the trail becomes less crowded and overgrown in places. This overgrowth was mostly grass or cacti growing over the trail and not totally obscuring it. The problem can be seeing rattlesnakes in the grass if they do not rattle. My map showed one or two stream crossings but there are significantly more. Because of the rains during the monsoon season, it is tough to find the trail across Romero Creej and hikers need to follow stone cairns. After about 4.5 to 5 miles I back tracked to the trailhead. Total mileage was about 9.5 miles with 1400 feet of elevation gain.

                            Romero Pools with a significant amount of water

                           Romero Pools

               A beautiful spot above Romero Pools

                        Scenery mile above Romero Pools

                       Beautiful effect of sunlight on grass

                      Saguaros at the base of Montrose Canyon

                                 Major wash in Catalina State Park