Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pusch Peak Catalina Mountains November 22, 2014

                       The side of Pusch Mountain

Directions and Information: The Linda Vista Trail head is located off of the Oracle Road. From I-10 take the Ina Road exit (Exit 248). Head toward the Catalina Mountains. When you get to Oracle Road turn left traveling north. Turn right onto Linda Vista BLVD. The small trail head for Linda Vista is on the right. The parking lot accommodates about six cars and fills up quickly on weekends so arrive early.The main trail at Linda Vista is a 3.8 mile loop that gains about 500 feet. It gives visitors a great view of the Tortolita Mountains as well as Oracle Valley. This trail is popular with novice hikers and trail runners. An unimproved trail also takes visitors to the summit of Pusch Peak.

Today I am climbing Pusch Peak from Linda Vista. Pusch Peak is a prominent peak on Pusch Ridge in the western part of the Catalina Mountains. It does not have a Forest Service maintained trail to the top. Hikers have created an unimproved, steep and rocky trail to the top. As a result of it being unmaintained, this trail is frequented by few hikers so please be careful and hike with someone else.. The trail is short at 4 miles but gains about 2700 feet making it extremely steep. The first part of the hike is on the Linda Vista loop. This is the easy part of the hike with moderate elevation gain. After about 0.5 mile to one mile the Pusch Peak trail departs on the right at a sign warning visitors that the trail is unmaintained. At this point the trail immediately becomes steep, gaining elevation quickly. In the first mile I became apprehensive about hiking this trail by myself so I befriended a University of Arizona student who agreed to hike with me. Make sure to pay attention because it is easy to loose the trail in places. Also hike in a controlled manner because there are many plants that would hurt if you fell into them. Near the top of the peak we met a ten year old hiking with his father. I found this very impressive because most ten year old kids usually do not hike steep trails. The view from the top was extraordinary with Mt. Lemmon to the north, Santa Rita Mountains to the east, Tortolita Mountains to the West, and Tucson in the valley below. Please take your time descending because it is extremely rocky and steep making it easy to fall and injure a  knee. (Information from and

                                   Looking back towards Tucson from the trail

                  The top looking east with the Rincon Mountains in the distance

                                    Me on top with Mount Kimball in the background

                             The high peaks of the Catalina Mountains

                      Above Linda Vista and Tucson valley. The ridge to the left has a number of hikeable small peaks if you don't want to go to the top.

                         The rocky and steep trail

                         In the foothills of the Catalina Mountains with the Tortolita  Mountains in the distance.

Saguaro National Park East Three Tank Trail November 15, 2014

                    Saguaros with the Catalina Mountains in the background

The Douglas Spring trail head is located at the end of Speedway BLVD in East Tucson. Many trails radiate out from this trail head including the longer Douglas Spring Trail which takes hikers to Manning Camp. The other trails are located in the Cactus Forest. I love the Cactus Forest because it is possible to create hikes of various lengths from the many different trails.

On November 15 my cousin and I arrived at the trail head mid-morning to hike the Three-tank Trail and return to the car via the Wildhorse and Garwood Trails. This loop is approximately eight miles long with 1500 feet of vertical change. Views of Tucson and the Catalina Mountains become extraordinary on the Three-Tank Trail. The ecosystem also changes on the Douglas Spring Trail with Sonoran Desert vegetation ie. Saguaro Cacti, Palo verde, Ocotillo becoming more of a grassy mixture. While on the hike, my cousin and I encountered two individuals on horseback and a riding group from Tanque Verde Ranch.

                            Vegetation in the Sonoran Desert

                               Horseback on the Three-tank Trail