Friday, September 19, 2014

King Canyon to Wasson Peak Saguaro National Park West September 13, 2014

                      Arizona poppy

Directions: King Canyon is located near the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. To get to the trail head take Speedway west from the University of Arizona. Drive under I-15 and follow the directions to Gates Pass. From Gates Pass carefully drive the windy road to Kinney Road. Turn right and watch for the trail head on the right near the museum.

The Hike: I returned to Saguaro National Park West to complete all four trails to the top of Wasson Peak.  Trails  included in this group are Sendero Esperanza, Hugh Norris, King Canyon and Sweetwater. All of these routes are beautiful but my personal favorite is Hugh Norris because it is longer and has views the whole way to the top.

Last Saturday we finally had temperatures cool enough (low 90s) to hike in the lower elevations so I took advantage. When I exited the car at 9 am there were clouds in the air and a cool wind blowing. I made good time hiking the old road that leads to the Mam-a-Gah Picnic Area.  For visitors who do not want to hike the old road a lower trail follows the wash below. The Mam-a-Gah Picnic Area was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Today the buildings are crumbling under disrepair.  The flora of this part of the trail is Saguaro, Palo verde, Ocotillo, and different species of cholla. After following the wash a short distance, the King Canyon trail becomes steep. Views start to open up toward Kitt Peak and the Baboquivari Hills to the west. The trail continues to climb until it reaches a saddle where the Sweetwater Trail descends  east toward town. Follow the Hugh Norris northward as it switchbacks its way past a number of inactive mines. After 1.1 miles a spur trail to the summit departs to the right. Wasson Peak is one of my favorite peaks to climb near Tucson because it offers a fantastic view. From the summit it is possible to see 20 wilderness areas.Total mileage was 7 miles with about 2000 feet of elevation gain.


                   Wild- dwarf morning glory

                  Trailing windmills


                           View looking east from top

                            Ocotillo with leaves

                                       Trail near top
                                                Arizona poppy