Monday, January 20, 2014

Starr Pass January 18, 2014

               Looking toward the Catalina Mountains from Starr Pass trail

Location: Starr Pass is located in the Tucson Mountains west of Tucson. To get to the trail head take I-10 south of the University of Arizona toward El Paso, Texas. Turn right onto Starr Pass Blvd and drive until you see Avenida del Correcaminos on your left. Turn left and drive another mile until you arrive at the trail head. This part of the Tucson Mountains has classic Sonoran Desert vegetation and wildlife. Every plant has some sort of thorn or spine on it that will hurt. Be especially careful when around Teddy bear chollas. I would also keep an eye out for rattlesnakes on the trail or in the bushes.

My cousin Franak and I arrived at the trail head at 9:45 am. Neither of us had hiked here before so we didn't have a specific distance or hike in mind.  We started hiking on an unnamed connector which after a mile intercepted the Yetman and Starr Pass Trails. After talking with another hiking group we decided that Starr Pass would be a worth while destination.  The Starr Pass Trail gains elevation moderately as it winds its way to Starr Pass. In this area be careful for illegal trails which can make route finding more difficult.  At Starr Pass Franak and I spent about a half an hour eating lunch and scrambling up some of the surrounding rocks. On our way back we missed a trail junction and ended up at a subdivision near the Starr Pass Resort. We walked on sidewalks for forty minutes before deciding to retrace our route to try and find a familiar trail junction. None of the junctions were signed so neither Franak nor I had any clue as to the correct way back to our car. Finally, two mountain bikers stopped and not only described the route but also walked almost all the way back with us. It turns out at an unsigned trail junction we went right instead of left. Needless to say I was embarrassed.  Before hiking here make sure to have an excellent map of the area and go with someone who has intimate knowledge of Starr Pass trails. Even a good map will not show the illegal mountain bike trails in Tucson Mountain Park. Total mileage including walking aimlessly was about seven miles.

                                           Looking west from Starr Pass

                Scenery near the resort

       Tucson Mountains scenery

Sabino Canyon Loop Phoneline Trail & Sabino Creek January 13, 2014

                  Palo verde nursing two Saguaros

Upon completion of this hike on December 6, 2013, this 3.5 mile loop quickly became one of my favorite short hikes in Tucson. In a relative short time it gives visitors a chance to see two different desert habitats the Sonoran Desert bajada and desert riparian. As a result, the plant and animal life change. Early evening is also a good time to photograph desert landscapes. 

On January 13 I returned to Sabino Canyon and completed the hike after an hour and half. I was able to photograph a great sunset and even spend more time at Sabino Dam.

Short description: Trails involved included the main trail to Bear Canyon, Phoneline Trail and Sabino Creek Trail. The hike is 3.5 miles with moderate elevation gain. Finally, trails begin and end at the Sabino Canyon Visitor at the end of Sunrise BlVD. For more detailed information on the route please consult my December 10, 2013, post.

                        Phoneline Trail scenery
                          Golden Saguaros

         Last light on the Catalinas

            Evening glow