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Gibbon Mountain, AZ

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Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
4 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 1.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,831 feet
Elevation Gain 970 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,220 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.82
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
17  2018-03-06 rvcarter
2  2018-02-24
Thimble Peak
93  2016-01-17 AZHiker456
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Nov, Oct → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:20pm
0 Alternative
I'm Taller!!
by imike

The Peak that gets all the recognition towering above the Bear Canyon drainage is the impressive Thimble Peak... yet Gibbon Mountain, across the canyon on the south ridge ranges five hundred feet higher, and is deserving of a visit. It's peak and surrounding ridge is composed of an interesting assortment of sculpted rock formations that provide endless playtime in minor bouldering. The peak itself is an easy walkup, probably best combined with a longer approach than the simple access from the old Soldier Camp upper trailhead. It makes for an interesting destination point when added to the lower Soldier Trail. Whichever point you begin your hike, the approach to Gibbon Mountain is ultimately all off trail, and you will have to choose your own route. I favor heading up the old road leading to Sycamore Reservoir, then instead of cresting the hill and dropping over into the Reservoir drainage, head off trail to the left, winding up and left around towards the small false peaks above you. Once there, traverse around those to the west side, above the very long drainage coming in from the south and west, and then simply enjoy the looping traverse around and up the ridge to the south and east of Gibbon Mountain.

Once on the top of the ridge, the peak provides an impressive overview of the drainages below, and if you take the time to follow the mountain ridge down to the west, you will find yourself overlooking the Seven Falls area. Directly below the peak the dam and drainage for the Sycamore reservoir are obvious, and you'll note some very interesting potential canyon hiking in that rocky cut. Something for another day?

Review maps for a nice orientation towards this peak... there are many approach and descent options, but if you drop down too close towards the reservoir you may find the route too overgrown... nicer to approach and descend from the ridge further away from Sycamore basin.

So, give Thimble Peak's big brother a shot... you'll like it!

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2010-03-29 imike
  • sub-region related

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 Triplog Reviews
Gibbon Mountain
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“F*@#$g Epic!” are the only two words that come to mind when I reflect back on today’s adventure, [of just under 8 hours, just over 4,200’ AEG, and just under 12.5 miles… 9.5+ of which were completely off trail]. If ever there is a contest for awesomest route to Gibbon Mountain, I will definitely be entering the one I took today.

I’d written off the shorter approaches to Gibbon Mountain [via Molino Basin or the Gordon Hirabiyashi Campground] since I needed to work on my weakness [distance] and wanted to log at least 12 miles today; but approaching via the Soldier or Babad Do'ag Trails – and then bushwhacking to connect with the GPS route to Gibbon shown here – ... ain/ – was starting to appeal. When I first moved to the Tucson area, I remember overhearing an experienced hiker mention that the Babad Do'ag Trail is very beautiful…

…and, to my pleasant surprise, when I started entering “Babad Do'ag” into HAZ, there was not one but two Descriptions: “Babad Do'ag”, [the one I was expecting, which describes the out-and-back hike along the official trail]; and “Babad Do'ag Drainage”. Let’s just say, the moment I caught sight of the word “Drainage”, I was sold.

This drainage is a boulder’s hopper’s dream! With almost no brush, tons of solid boulders and countless small waterfalls to scramble up, [for 2+ miles], this drainage is pretty sweet to say the least. I’m not sure what is typical in terms of water, but today there was very nice flow, making things all the more beautiful.

Towards the top of the drainage and after scrambling up a ridge, you connect with the official Babad Do'ag Trail by which you can return, making a sweet loop. As awesome as the drainage was, I figured I’d be pretty beat by the time I got back from bagging Gibbon Mountain [and ‘pretty beat’ would be an understatement!]. Needless to say, I was more than happy to go back by way of the trail. It was a win-win-win: a) having a very beautiful trail with decent footing to return by after over 9.5 miles of bushwhacking; b) different scenery by doing a loop over an out-and-back; and c) by going down the trail, I got to really take in the awesome views.

It took me about 1 hr. 40 min to get to the official end of the Babad Do'ag Trail via the drainage route. After that, I was initially planning to use the bushwhack portion of part of a loop route that a few HAZ hikers have posted, which connects the Babad Do'ag and Solider Trails. From there, I would follow the route to Gibbon Mountain, shown in the link I posted above.

Plans ended up going astray [in a good way]. The going was proving to be extremely easy [for a bushwhack], and I still had tons of energy… so I ended up continuing more or less ‘as the crow flies.’ It was an absolute blast… but flippin’ exhausting! Let’s just say, if you think false summits are bad, try ‘false ridges’…! I lost track of the number of ridges I went up and down. In addition to the endless ‘ridge riding’, at one point I even dropped into another amazingly beautiful drainage, which I rode for a good ways. Like the Babad Do'ag drainage, this one also had beautiful flowing waterfalls and was tons of fun to boulder up. At least with my ridge-hopping, there were no false summits! When I eventually got to the base of Gibbon Mountain, I was in perfect position to head straight up toward the large saddle between the highpoint and another point on the summit that is almost as high.

While I haven’t done many hikes in the Catalinas, Gibbon Mountain definitely takes the prize for my hands down most beautiful summit views in this range to date, [better than Cathedral, Window Peak, Rattlesnake Peak, and Airmen Peak to name just a few]. I was surprised to not find a summit register since this is a SAHC peak. I’m usually pretty good at finding them too, but it’s possible I may have just missed it. The ridgeline that traverses the top of Gibbon Mountain is very fun and offers a great variety of spectacular views. I couldn’t agree more with this: “While Point 5801 seems to be marked/referred to as ‘Gibbon Mountain’ don’t stop there! For great views of the lower portion of Bear Canyon (and a nicer spot to stop and take a break) continue to the next prominent high spot (to the south-west)” ... ain/.

After continuing to the prominent high point toward the Southwest [which interestingly enough has a large cairn on top], I retraced my steps to the actual highpoint, then back to the saddle area, and then, [instead of descending from the saddle area], I decided I would take a different route back. Not only did I want to visit the third prominent highpoint on Gibbon, I was having tons of fun traversing the ridgeline… and it was definitely a lot less tiring than the ridge-hopping I did en route to the mountain.

Initially I rode the main ridge off Gibbon Mountain… then ended up on a different ridge… then crossed a small drainage… then contoured a minor peak… [maybe I mixed up the order of some of that; thank God for GPS!]. At one point, I spotted the trail I was initially planning to connect with on my way to Gibbon Mountain. This time, I angled my path toward it and touched down on trail at 8.25 miles, [all of which had been bushwhacking up to that point, aside from the few feet where I reconnected with the official end of the Babad Do'ag Trail]. Shortly after reaching trail, I arrived at the junction for the Solider Trail; and shortly after turning onto the Soldier Trail, I made a left onto an unofficial but well defined route that connects the Solider and Babad Do'ag Trails. The going was very smooth at first…

…but, [thanks to the combination of easy off-trail terrain and a good sense of direction], I realized that I’d strayed a fair margin from my ascent route by the time I decided it was time to spot-check my GPS. Not wanting to backtrack, I pushed forward, hoping that the ‘hypotenuse vs. two sides’ phenomenon would once again work out in my favor… and that I wouldn’t step on a rattlesnake in the process. My shortcut back involved traversing some terrain with very tall grass, [the kind where you cannot see what might be underneath], and the temps had warmed up enough to where the snakes might just venture out… luckily it all worked out well. When I touched down on the official Babad Do'ag Trail and looked back at the small drainage I ended up using on the return trip, I thought, “pretty cool… that’s the same drainage I was thinking about using initially…”
Gibbon Mountain
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Started at Prison Camp on the Molino Basin Trail and then left the wash at the old trail out to 4981 - at the saddle where you get great views of the city wandered up to the peaks. The peak to the east seems to be the official point listed by the USGS but the peak to west is much more interesting with great views of Bear Canyon. Hiked back via the ridge which has a few really nice spots.

Gibbon Mountain
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I thought I would catch some clouds/rain to bring the temps down on this hike - but that plan did not work out so great (except some rain to cool me off 5 minutes from the trailhead!) and it was pretty hot...

Started on the trail that turns off the Sycamore Reservoir trail at about .5 miles and heads out to Point 4981 and then walked ridges over to Gibbon. On my last trip up I had not gone over to the south end of the mountain, this time I did and there are some great views looking down into Bear Canyon.

Pictures: ... 488160066/
Gibbon Mountain
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Started at Prison Camp, headed towards Sycamore Reservoir and then headed up to the ridge above the saddle with the AZ Trail sign a few minutes before the saddle (on the way back I came nearly straight off the ridge down to the saddle - I think the way I went up was easier) - did not find a trail to use. The ridges over to Gibbon Mountain were fun and the view from the top was great! Pictures: ... 762906991/

Permit $$
Visit this link for full details.

There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day use sites.

Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $10 extra.

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 Gordon Hirabiyashi Trailhead
From Tucson take the Catalina Highway up into the mountains. Right around milepost 8 is the signed lefthand turn off for the Gordon Hirabiyashi Campground. Take a left here and drive through the campsites to the end of a smooth gravel road. There is a small roundabout with multiple parking spots for dayhikers.
page created by imike on Mar 29 2010 6:56 am
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