Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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

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