Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tortolita Mountains Alamo Springs January 19, 2015

             Alamo Trail scenery

Directions: The Tortolita Mountains are an overlooked mountain range to the west of Tucson, Arizona. Visitors tend to stay in Saguaro National Park or hike in the Catalina Mountains. This is a mistake because the Tortolita Mountains are very scenic. From Interstate 10 take the Tangerine Road exit. Turn east, crossing the train tracks, and drive until you reach Dove Mountain Road. Turn left onto Dove Mountain and follow it until you reach a sign for the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. This area has been built up significantly in the last five years. You will see signs for the Wild Burro Trailhead where there is a big parking lot.

Hike: Last year I hiked the Wild Mustang and Wild Burro Trails with my friend Nathan. The objective for todays hike was to hike the Alamo Springs tTail and then come back on the Wild Burro Trail. Total mileage was about nine miles with over 1500 feet. I started late in the morning and the temperature was already warm under the sun. I was glad I brought the six containers of water with me. There is not a lot of shade on the Alamo Trail but hikers can find some shade under Mesquite or Palo verde bushes. In the future I want to get started earlier in the day especially on this trail. When I arrived at Alamo Springs I returned to the parking lot via Wild Burro. On the way back I met two older gentlemen from Ohio who were geocaching in the mountains. They were following their GPS and wanted to go cross-country to the cache. I advised them that it would not be a wise decision because the Sonoran Desert is one of the most difficult deserts to hike off-trail in.

                    A hot but scenic section of the Alamo Springs Trail

                    Looking toward Wild Burro Canyon

                                  Neat looking Saguaros

Carillo and Wildhorse Trails Saguaro National Park East January 18, 2015

                      The Carrillo Trail

Avid readers will find this post familiar because I have hiked in the cactus forest of Saguaro National Park many times in the past. This trailhead is located about 20 minutes away from Pima Air and Space so it is an attractive destination after volunteering at the museum.. I arrived at the Wildhorse Trailhead, located at the end of Speedway BLVD,  at 2 pm. Today's objective was to hike the Carrillo and Wildhorse loop. This loop is about five to six miles (depending on deviations on other trails) with most elevation gain occurring in the first mile on the Douglas Springs Trail. All trails are well signed; however, a map is necessary to keep from getting confused and turned around in the many trails. For visitors who are new to the Sonoran Desert these trails give a nice introduction to vegetation and terrain for the area. Remember this is desert country so wear a long sleeve shirt, hat and sunblock and carry plenty of water.

                        Saguaros on the foothills of the Rincon Mountains

               Saguaros with Catalina Mountains in the background