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Ventana Trail #98, AZ

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Guide 87 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
4.1 of 5 by 23
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 5.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,000 feet
Elevation Gain 3,173 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,452 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.75
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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14  2018-12-08
Window Rock and Window Peak
10  2016-09-03
Mount Kimball via Finger Rock
13  2014-11-17
Ventana Trail to Window Rock
10  2014-08-16 Timknorr
3  2014-05-24 mdfabbrini
33  2014-02-22 Timknorr
22  2014-02-09
Finger Rock to Ventana
5  2013-12-07
Ventana to Esperero Loop (with car shuttle)
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:19pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby

Ventana Canyon is one of the most beautiful canyons in the Santa Catalina Front Range, and one of the least visited. The main reason for that, most likely, is because getting to the trailhead requires deciphering a set of access instructions that would challenge Sherlock Holmes (see below)! Another reason may be the fact that this Front Range trail includes several sections of steep and rocky switchbacks.

Ventana means window in Spanish. The window in this case is a 15 by 25 foot opening in solid rock that tops one of the peaks in the Santa Catalina Front Range. The route up Ventana Canyon leads to "The Window", presenting memorable views of sheer canyon walls and a steadily broadening panorama along the way. The stream that the trail follows for much of this route is dry most of the year, but you can usually find water in some of its pools during the spring and early summer. The riparian habitat it nourishes provides good birdwatching.

The trail becomes steadily more difficult to follow as it climbs farther from the trailhead and higher up the canyon. As you climb, occasional pools and widening vistas provide reasons to stop, take a breather and look around. The Window comes into view well before you get to it, as does the 100-foot drop at its base.

Attractions: Desert canyon, waterfalls (in season, access to The Window and magnificent views!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-02-27 HAZ_Hikebot
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 29 deeper Triplog Reviews
Ventana Trail #98
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A slow hike, overall, due to a general feeling of fatigue for both my husband and me, as well as some knee and foot pain during the descent. Water levels were much lower than expected - Maiden Pools levels were the lowest we've ever seen, and none of the streams that intersect with the trail were active. My husband has hiked Ventana Canyon more than I have, and he remarked that he'd never seen the trail so dry (note that we haven't lived in Tucson since 2005, so we're not as up-to-date on the trail conditions as we once were). We had no trouble filtering at Maiden Pools on the way up and down, though, and there was one other spot, probably 60-90 minutes from the summit (depending on your fitness level), where flowing water could be found, although it didn't look too easy to access.

The trail was in fairly good condition, although I found myself feeling very thankful for some of the cairns that have been set up. Due to the recent storm, there was a good amount of snow on the ground at the summit - I'd estimate we hiked through snow for about 20 minutes before reaching The Window. (We did not attempt the actual summit - we stopped for lunch at The Window, which was our turnaround point.) It was a little icy at spots, but not too bad.

As for wildlife, we saw a few eagles in flight, as well as smaller birds chirping here and there. A few ground squirrels or chipmunks (they were too fast to identify), and a rabbit near the trailhead on the way back. We saw a few sets of mountain lion tracks in the snow near the summit, but thankfully missed seeing the animals themselves.
Ventana Trail #98
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I might have seen fewer people if I had gone to Disneyland and tried to climb the Matterhorn. Maybe it's a spring break thing, but this is the most people I've ever seen hiking on a Monday outside of Sabino Canyon. After I got up to Maiden Pools, the crowds thinned significantly.

It's been a while since I could hike, and I felt terrific for the first few hours, but I hit a huge wall on the climb out of the canyon (starting just before the Esperero/FR junction). This is a hike that I've done before with little trouble, so I pushed myself through some leg cramps and fatigue that just kept getting worse and worse. I intended to go to Window Peak, but I had to turn around at the Window. I felt awful on the way down and probably shouldn't have even gone as far as I did. I've done tougher hikes in worse shape, so I don't know what the deal was - hopefully it's just a fluke...

Still, a beautiful day in a beautiful canyon.
Ventana Trail #98
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Pima to Ventana Loop
My hiking buddy hadn't done the final mile or two of Pima Canyon, and neither of us had done the final segment of FRT (after the turnoff for the Pima Canyon), so we took two cars and made it a loop from Pima Canyon to Ventana Canyon (with obligatory stops at Pima Saddle and Mt. Kimball). This was the time of year to do it; both canyons were green, the weather was great, and there was running water nearby for most of the hike.

I think Pima-to-Ventana is definitely the way to go, especially if you've never climbed all the way to Kimball via Pima before. I wouldn't want to downclimb and route-find in Pima Canyon when I'm tired. Not to mention the mile or two of totally flat (and potentially hot) hiking at the bottom... I was expecting the FRT segment to be to toughest trail to follow of the day, but that award went to Pima. It was so overgrown, we got off-route on multiple occasions - even though both of us had been on the trail before. But I ain't complaining - it's a great hike, especially when it really starts climbing.

(Ballparked the mileage and AEG from other descriptions. I should get a GPS...)
Ventana Trail #98
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Have you ever been out on a hike and a song was so stuck in your head that any time you hear the song, you think about that hike? I have a feeling that's gonna be true here. New song played in the car ride, and on the hike.

Very enjoyable day, back on Esperero and Ventana. Thanks to fricknaley :app: :app: :app: , who picked me up at Ventana TH and shuttled me over to Sabino. He had an early morning appointment with Blackett's Ridge and was extremely gracious in letting me bum a ride ... walking from Sabino to Ventana afterward in 100-degree heat would not have been a great way to end this one. :yuck: Found myself shooting up Esperero around 5:30am, beautiful temps helped me kick up the pace and get a jump on this one.

The morning trip up Esperero was wonderful. Almost complete shade the whole way up. After I passed an elderly Asian couple at the start of Esperero (just off the road), I never saw another soul the entire day...had both canyons and the peak all to myself. Esperero had one big area of some really thick, high grass in one area, probably 4 feet tall and crazy thick, and dead. Not a good recipe. Farther up, Esperero had the usual brush growth across the trail once past the Cathedral Rock junction. For me, it was the first time on this final section of Esperero, no Cathedral turnoff today.

Made my way toward Window Peak — especially loved slipping over the ridge and seeing the view of Oro Valley, Catalina, and northwest Tucson. Once I made it up to Window Peak I never could find the register, once I made it up to the top I looked around but just wasn't in the exact right spot. Lots of really large boulders there with steep dropoffs between them. Spent over a half hour soaking up the view, then headed down. The heat was on, but I still had a lot of shade thanks to the oaks and juniper until dropping to 4500 feet.

Before leaving the oaks, funny, I startled a snake relaxing and staying cool in one of the branches. He quickly tried to get down and put his weight on a branch that was dead. It snapped and he fell down onto the ground (ouch!).

Oh, and the song? Like friendofThundergod, I'm a total alternative music guy... check out "Stressed Out" by twenty one pilots. Crazy dudes. Careful tho, this song can get in your head and not leave... ... 6vMY ](*,)
Ventana Trail #98
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We started around 0600 to beat the heat, and we were rewarded with shade in the canyon and cool air. There was water at Maiden Pools. We had planned to hike in for two hours and return, however when we stopped for a snack the Window was within view. Both of us were tempted to head up, however we decided that we would definitely run out of water and time. My hiking friend had a noontime appointment.

Prickly Pear, Agave Blooms
Ventana Trail #98
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It is very strange that there is water nearly right at the beginning as there is very little once you get in the canyon. I think it is coming from the ranch, and who knows what it is. Either way, it is right on and off the trail at the first turn going around the condos.

I went up to the big bulky ridge in the canyon to see how it felt compared to Esperero. It is prettier in a few ways, but I came out with my eyes burning and itching from allergies. I can't wait until these obnoxious flowers are done and dead.
Ventana Trail #98
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Right now I view my hiking more as a way to get back into shape, so Ventana Canyon is perfect. From step one it just keeps climbing.

On this day I had worked most of the morning, and I was itching to get out before the heat became unreasonable and dangerous. I hit the trailhead at about 11 AM. I was pretty much the only one heading up trail at this time - I met about a dozen people over the course of the first hour coming down.

Needless to say, the canyon is dry, dry, dry. The saguaros here, too, like my earlier hike on the Douglas Spring trail, were blooming, as were a number of yucca plants.

Saguaros and yuccas
Ventana Trail #98
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Great day for a hike! An otherwise windy morning calmed down nicely once I got into the canyon. Saw a bunch of people in the first two miles, but very few after that. This one is a real kick in the :pk: for elevation gain, but gorgeous views of the canyon and the city beyond. The Maiden Pools had some stagnant water and a bunch of flying insects, so I will save that part for another day...Gorgeous Blue Mexican Oaks about about 4500'. Wildflowers were just getting started despite a dry winter, many Canyon Penstemon and Parry's Penstemon blooming. Next time, hopefully I will have time to make it to the window!
Ventana Trail #98
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We slept in this morning and decided to do Blackett's Ridge for a little exercise. Getting to SCRA after 0800 on a beautiful Sunday morning will make it difficult to find parking. Frustrated, we pulled back onto Sabino Canyon Rd to head over to Ventana Canyon. No parking issues there, and relatively few hikers on the trail too.
Ventana Trail #98
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Met up with Dave at Pima Canyon trailhead, shuttled over to Ventana trailhead, then set off under sunny, chilly skies. I had forgotten how beautiful Ventana Canyon was. Window Peak and banded cliff walls framed the greenery perfectly. Maiden pools called to me, but in this cold, I knew better.

Turning onto the path less traveled, upper Finger Rock Trail was slower going as we moved from cairn to cairn, and we had to search for the route a few times. The forest on this stretch was quite nice, and so were the views down Ventana Canyon. I battled the eye gouging, hat-thieving branches overhanging the trail along the way with my aluminum yeti-wand as best I could, and added a few cairns.

Clouds had arrived in full force and the temperature had dropped significantly by the time we reached the south shoulder of Mount Kimball. A bearded gentleman suddenly emerged from the trees, whom we talked with briefly before he vanished like a ghost. This was the third and final person we would see all day. "Snowflakes? Cool!" A bit more climbing brought us to Kimball's summit, where Dave and I took a lunch break and watched misty white snow curtains tease the slopes of the Catalinas.

The temperature dropped into the upper thirties as we began our descent on the wonderfully woodsy upper Pima Canyon Trail, under a dark, gloomy sky. Nearing Pima Saddle, our route entered a forbidding gathering of cliffs and rocky peaks. I admired the route finding skills of the original trail builders as we dropped through them. Below Pima Spring, we left the biting cold, and I enacted savage vengeance upon a catclaw mimosa bush that I had become tangled in.

We made great time during the last few miles as the terrain eased, passing the access canyon for Table Mountain and its thorny guard hedge of catclaw along the way. A few misty sprinkles and a cold wind came rolling over, but the weather held. Pima Trailhead was pretty quiet when we arrived, tired and satisfied after a full day of fun on mighty Pusch Ridge.

I had a great time as always, Dave. Thanks for a fun trip! :)

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Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Ventana Trailhead
1) From I-10 head east on W Ina Rd for 6.9 mi
2) Continue onto E Skyline Dr for 1.9 mi
3) Continue onto E Sunrise Dr for 3.2 mi
4) Turn left onto N Craycroft Rd and follow 2.5 mi
5) Turn left onto N Resort Dr and follow 0.1 mi
6) Ventana Trailhead Parking is on your left. It is a large slender lot. Trail takes off from the end.

If you continue to far on N Resort Dr you will quickly enter the resort on Flying V Rd, turn around.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 117 mi, 1 hour 57 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 15.4 mi, 29 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 260 mi, 4 hours 6 mins
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