I am trying to complete all the trails in the Catalinas and one of the pieces that I was missing was the Romero Trail between Old Trail Camp and Romero Pass. It was going to be in the upper 90s in town, so I decided that it was the perfect time of year to get dropped off at the top of Mt. Lemmon and hike down to Catalina State Park in one day. I have hiked down in one day before, on the Sutherland Trail last May, but hadn't done it solo yet. Mr. Sirena was kind enough to help me with a shuttle, and I got hiking around 10:30 am. Not an early start, but one that would help me to avoid being at low elevations in the hottest part of the day.
I took the Meadow Trail and got called a "speedy whippersnapper" when I passed a large group of seniors out for a stroll.
A little farther down the trail I also stopped and talked to Frank Rose, who is coming out with a book- Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona: A Field Guide to the Santa Catalina Mountains and Other Nearby Ranges soon. Sounds like a great book! The hike on the Mt. Lemmon trail gets more and more beautiful as you head toward the Wilderness of Rock junction. I never tire of the expansive views.
After the Wilderness of Rock junction, I had expected the trail to be overgrown as it had been in past trips. I was pleased to see that someone had done enough maintenance that I was able to use my umbrella for the whole time. I really enjoyed the part of the trail between the WOR and the pass. Such great views and rock formations, but it's more than a little sad how dry the Catalinas look this year. I took a break at Romero Pass and ate the last of my Easter Peeps. Here's a video from Romero Pass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaBD8Yl8_10
After my break, it was on to fresh trail I'd never seen before. As soon as I dropped into Romero Canyon from the pass, the air became hot and humid. I would imagine that this part must have been gorgeous before the fire, but now it's very exposed and crispy-looking. I was relieved when I reached the creek and cooled off in the water for a bit. After I had taken my break, I walked a short distance to find two beautiful waterfalls. I didn't feel like stopping again so I took a peek and mentally filed it away as a place I'll have to come back and explore at a later date. There was a great spot to camp nearby that was begging for a return trip anyway. The rest of the way to Old Trail Camp was my favorite part of the Romero Trail- big boulders and tall trees with the sound of rushing water. I reached Old Trail Camp and took a minute to eat something and give my feet a break. The relentless downhill pounding was beginning to make my feet sore and I looked forward to that last fancy flat mile into the parking lot. I still had 2000 feet of loss to go and after Old Trail Camp.
The trail spits you out of the nice tree cover of the creek onto the exposed hillside. It was hot and I'm not acclimated to the heat yet this early in the season. Thank goodness for umbrellas and wet bandannas. I got to Romero Pools and there was no one around. Of course that ended once I left the pools and I passed a bunch of people asking me "How far to the pools?" Aaah, yes- the lower part of the Romero Trail, populated by unprepared tourists, a hipster-type in skinny jeans wearing way too much cologne, and grumpy families. A little more downhill and I was finally on the last flat mile. I enjoyed this hike a lot, but still think it would be more fun as an overnighter- but then again I think that about most hikes! GPS showed 6800 feet of elevation loss on this long day of downhill.