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Shovel Springs Loop, AZ

Guide 12 Triplogs  1 Topic
  3.9 of 5 
122 12 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 7.84 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,093 feet
Elevation Gain 1,957 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,412 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.9
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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6  2018-08-17 jtaylor
5  2018-07-26 fricknaley
2  2018-06-05 pmstirling
24  2016-09-09
Catalina Mts Samaniego Ridge
34  2013-05-04 Jim_H
21  2011-10-15 Sarae
7  2011-07-16 cindyl
15  2011-05-22
Samaniego Peak
Page 1,  2
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 389
Photos 4,109
Trips 3,347 map ( 21,625 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:37am - 7:22pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2020 Bighorn Fire119.5k
🔥 2003 Aspen Fire87.7 mi*
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

You no longer need a shovel to dig the trail out
by fricknaley

Likely In-Season!
Shovel Springs Loop is a lovely lasso loop in the Catalina high country, starting from the Mt. Lemmon trailhead and heading out into some less visited areas in the Samaniego Ridge area on some newly reworked trails. Unique and spectacular views are there... ripe for the taking. There is a lot of excellent forest up here as well.

This hike starts on Mount Lemmon Trail #5. You can opt to start the first leg on the beautiful little Meadow Trail leg of the Mt. Lemmon Trail, called Meadow Trail 5A. This short little 0.8-mile leg wanders through some big trees and little meadows (some burned) near the summit of Mt. Lemmon before descending back down a slope to rejoin Mt. Lemmon Trail proper. Continue on the Mt. Lemmon trail for another 0.7 miles to the signed junction with the Sutherland Trail #6.

Turn right on Sutherland Trail #6 and descend the west slope of Mt. Lemmon for about a total of 0.8 miles. Along the way, incredible views open up of Pusch Ridge and its craggy summits, as well as the western slopes of Mt. Lemmon. In the fall, there will be golden blazes along the slopes. The trail can be a little brushy but is very easy to follow. After about 0.8 miles, you will reach the signed junction for Samaniego Ridge Trail #7, with Sutherland breaking off and descending to your left. Stay straight or right on Samaniego Ridge Trail and absorb more amazing views of Pusch Ridge. If you know where to look, you can see light streaming through Window Rock. You will start to enter more and more patches of outstanding pine forest. The descent continues quite steadily for about 0.5 miles into the denser pine forest, which in many places seems untouched by any hint of fire and is outstanding.

After about 0.5 miles of descending, you come to the signed intersection with the Canada Del Oro (CDO) Shortcut trail. For this little loop, you can go either way. For this description, I choose to continue left on the Samaniego Ridge Trail. Hike this for about another mile as it continues to descend out towards a saddle south of Samaniego Peak, which you periodically have fantastic views of along the way through the trees. At times the views towards to slopes of Lemmon and over Canada Del Oro are just fabulous. Out towards the far intersection with the CDO Shortcut trail (about 1 mile from the last sign), the trail is a little brushy but still easy enough to follow.

At the CDO Shortcut signed intersection take a right onto the CDO shortcut trail. You will follow this route for about 0.3 miles to the signed intersection with the CDO Trail #4. This is the only short section of this hike where the trail is faint. It appears to have been recently tagged and blazed; however, if you keep this in mind and follow the faint trail, you should be able to make the 0.3 section to the next intersection without too much trouble. At the last signed intersection for this little loop, you are presented with the CDO Trail #4 proper descending into its namesake canyon or continuing your climb back up to the intersection with the Samaniego Ridge trail at the CDO Shortcut intersection. This last little leg is about 0.7 miles and has been recently cleared. There should be no significant route finding issues as you make this last little climb through some more awesome forest. Shovel Spring is along this stretch as well.

Once back at the signed intersection with Samaniego Ridge Trail #7, you can take it back up to the Sutherland intersection then the Mt. Lemmon intersection to get back to your car. The way back is all uphill.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2010-11-01 fricknaley
    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.

    Permit $$
    Visit overview & permits.
    2022 - FAQ
    $8 per vehicle per day
    $10 per vehicle per week
    $40 per vehicle per year (valid for one year from date of purchase)

    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.

    2022 Catalina State Park
    Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
    Individual/bicycle: $3.00

    2022 Sabino Canyon Tram is $15 extra. [ website ]

    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 hike
    Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Go all way up, turning right towards Ski Valley and continuing past it to the end of the line at the power substation on Radio Ridge. This is the trailhead for Mount Lemmon Trail #5.
    page created by fricknaley on Nov 01 2010 3:05 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool

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