Wow, what a beauty. Now I know why this is one of the most popular trails in the state.
I'm guessing a little here on the miles and elevation gain on this one, as I didn't have GPS data or anything else... Another fantastic backpack with the Arizona Backpacking Club. We drove up Friday night, starting in Tucson and picking folks up in Casa Grande, the east Valley, and at Carefree Highway and I-17. Had num-nums at the Rock Springs Cafe - man, I haven't done that since I was a kid. Guess what, the pie still rocks! Pulled off the interstate and camped off Schnebly Canyon Road because the stars were so brilliant I had to stop and enjoy them. The hammock was perfect that night - with a warm set up and an amazing view.
Hit the trail head just before 8am and the Call of the Canyon parking area was virtually empty. The first three miles of the trail were wide, sandy and very well traveled. We saw a few other hikers, but not terribly many. Once we got past the big pool at the end, though, the fun started. This canyon was made for hikers - with a perfect mix of incredible scenery, fun obstacles and easy going. None of the pools were so deep we had to swim, and the few that might have been were easy enough to bypass. About 6.5 miles in (by Desert Tarheel's GPS) we found a smallish campsite up high on a bench, which would have been ideal, though the decent to the creek was a little, um, vertical. We set up camp anyway, ate lunch then set off to explore more upstream. A little less than a mile upstream, we found another campsite, this one larger, with easier stream access, and (what sold me), stone chairs constructed beneath a beautiful overhang. So, back we went to reclaim our gear, move it up and establish ourselves one cushy campsite.
After another star-studded evening, we got up in the morning and explored a little up stream. We cut it short though, as we had a long drive and some more pie to take on. Although there is nothing hum-drum or so-so about the canyon, it's character remains pretty constant through what we hiked, so we headed back, hitting the trailhead just after 1pm.
Fantastic. Gotta go back now and do it end-to-end so we don't miss any great canyon action.