A couple years ago my in-laws moved their dairy to Pima, AZ. It didn't take long for me to discover what a gold mine of a mountain lies straight out their backdoor. After a couple of years of oohing and ahhing at the views, I finally dusted off my backpacking gear (very underutilized as of late) and headed off into the mountains on the Taylor Canyon Trail. We chose this trail because the road leading out there is just a mile from the dairy. Preston did an excellent job describing how to get to the trailhead. New housing developments in the area near the highway have made it a bit tricky and mis-leading to find the road, but his description was right on. The primitive road in the last section before the trailhead is not bad, but there are a few tricky spots that require good clearance.
Everything in Preston's description of this hike is right on. It is clear the trail gets very little use by hikers, but surprisingly the trail gets enough use (mostly by bears given the scat everywhere) to make it easy to follow. There were a few spots where we had to poke around to find it again, but carins and tree ribbons (big thanks to whoever left them!) helped us in the tough spots. There is a good deal of fallen wood that hides the trails in a couple spots, but a little route finding and you'll spot the trail again.
This is a tough hike. Not for everyone. The hike up to the saddle is a constant, steady climb. The cat claw and oak will scratch at your shins and leave their bloody mark. This hike would be much more enjoyable wearing some kind of lightweight, breathable pants. There were times I was gritting my teeth as the thorns hooked my legs again and again. I've hiked many 4 mile+ trails, but something about this one made it seem like a VERY long 4 miles to the saddle.
We camped at the saddle not far from where the tails intersect. Despite the rain earlier that day, we found some great wood (just North of the site) that burned clean and very hot. So despite the freezing temps that night we were roasting like summer in Phoenix. The camp spot was a bit of a disappointment though, with barely enough room for my 2 person tent, and not flat. I explored about .5 mile further up the Clark Peak trail for a better campsite but had no luck.
Maybe I have high expectations, but I was a bit disappointed with the views from the saddle. I was hoping for more views out west of the range, but we didn't see any. Reading Preston's trip log again it seems there may be some views by hiking towards clark springs, but we did not push that far. I was also surprised we did not come across any wildlife, although it was evident that bears are in the area.
||Wildflowers Observation Light