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 I recently read that the Box Camp trail is no longer maintained.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).