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Quilter Trail, AZ

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19 32 2
Guide 32 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson
Rated
3.8
3.8 of 5 by 12
 
2
Statistics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance One Way 4.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,168 feet
Elevation Gain 1,263 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,500 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 9.6
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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5  2018-01-14
Grass Shack CG
Pivo
14  2017-03-04
AZT: I-10 to Summerhaven
The_N
34  2017-03-04
AZT Spring Break 2017
DallinW
28  2017-02-07
Saguaro N P Quilter Trail to Madrona R S
markthurman53
19  2016-03-24
AZT: Vail to Oracle
DallinW
79  2015-09-01
Rincon Mountains - AZT #9
The_Dude
7  2015-04-14
AZT #9a Hope Camp to Grass Shack
markthurman53
30  2015-04-04
Rincon Mountains - AZT #9
BiFrost
Page 1,  2,  3
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
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar
Sun  6:10am - 6:21pm
Official Route
 
9 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
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Overview
This trail is a newly constructed segment of the Arizona Trail, although not finalized. Work was still progressing as of April 8, 2011.


The start of the trail has a moderate elevation gain for about 1.5 miles through areas of Prickly Pear, Ocotillo, and Saguaros. Then the trail climbs more rapidly over switchbacks and freshly dug trail for about a mile. There is a gradual gain of another 150 ft toward the highest point with grand views of Rincon Peak and Helen's Dome in the East, X9 Ranch and the Rincon Valley toward the South, and Mt Wrightson toward the West. From there the trail descends about 100 ft to the intersection with the Manning Camp Trail. In several places the path is a fine grain powder. Use caution in steep places that are without standard stepping stones (still in progress).

Return to the trailhead or continue on to Manning Camp.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • Rincon HAZ Map
    area related
    Rincon HAZ Map
  • Rincon Mountain Distric East
    area related
    Rincon Mountain Distric East
  • Tucson Mountain District West
    area related
    Tucson Mountain District West
  • SNP Cactus Forest Map
    area related
    SNP Cactus Forest Map
  • nps related
  • 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 of 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
Quilter Trail
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Grass Shack CG
My boyfriend and his friend wanted to do a section of the AZT, instead of just dropping them off I convinced some friends to hike with them for a while.

Over half way to Grass Shack I spotted that three of the guys had stopped ahead of me. At first I thought they were taking pictures of something. Then I noticed sticks in the air and rocks flying. By the time I approached all the excitement was gone. The guys encountered a likely rabid fox. So be on the look out.

A few pools along the way had some water thanks to recent rain.

It was a nice day for a long hike. This is a pretty easy 20 miles!

Afterwards we went to Saguaro Corners for drinks and food.
Quilter Trail
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
AZT: I-10 to Summerhaven
Day 1: I decided to join Dallin on a portion of his Spring Break AZT dash. We were dropped off at Gabe Zimmerman TH on Saturday a.m. and started the trek at segment #8. It was a sunny, beautiful day. The trail is mostly flat and winds through a scenic desert. Saguaros dominate, Rincon Peak looms and neat geology surrounds. The smell of spring Creosote wafted through the air. Plenty of mountain bikers on this stretch. We breaked at Rincon Creek and enjoyed a brief soak. Heading up and into the mountains we would cross many flowing drainages and even saw a distant waterfall. After some climbing, we both hit a wall and stopped for camp on a rock slab 2 miles short of Grass Shack. Worst campsite ever. We were joined at camp by Anna, a solo backpacker on the 2nd night of her maiden voyage, who we'd been leap frogging in those last 6 miles.

Day 2: We woke up refreshed and determined to make up some milage. We started our climb up Mica Mountain. The ever changing terrain kept me in awe. Unlike anything I'd seen in AZ. The Juniper grasslands gave way to pines. The trail was beautiful and easy to follow. The creek at Grass Shack was flowing good. Temps dropped as we climbed and we didn't see any sunshine all day. Our nutrition / water break at Manning Camp was fairly chilly. We reached the top shortly after and enjoyed the stunning views. We hit a few snow patches on the north face of Mica. Nothing too bad but the slow melt made the trail loose and slick. We made our way down through the oak and manzanita forest before a nice afternoon/evening stroll over the rolling grasslands. Winds were ripping, deer were grazing and we both nearly stepped on a very lethargic baby rattler. After an impressive sunset and 1.5 hours of night hiking, we settled on another lousy camp site, but made it work.

Day 3: Didn't start well at all. I woke up with a screaming IT band and a serious case of pumpkin chaffe with a 25 mile day ahead. I threw an elastic knee brace on and went commando to help combat the chaffe (it helps). Needless to say, it took some warming up before I could move. I limped my way up the pass and down to Molino Basin. Dallin informed me that this was one of my last bail out options, but encouraged me to keep going, so I did. Once we topped out and I saw the views down into Sabino Canyon, my spirits were instantly lifted. I pushed on through the pain and was grateful I did. Wouldn't want to miss this canyon. We made our way back down into Saguaros and a lush riparian zone. The entire canyon and every drainage was raging. Quite a few day hikers and a few backpackers along this stretch. I can see why, Sabino is a showstopper. Despite my ailments, we were cruising along the canyon and making great time. Romero Pass put an end to that. I could barely lift my right leg at this point but we pushed on. Eventually we topped out and down into Wilderness of Rocks. More snow patches in this area. Some icy, but no additional gear is needed, just a careful step. The snow melt fueled good flowing water everywhere. We had about 5 miles left and I was hurting, completely drained and flat out delirious. Spending another night wasn't an option. Temps dropped quickly and darkness fell. We had a couple hours of night hiking with some interesting route finding along snowy creeks. It took some teamwork but we made it out and to our ride after road walking up from Marshall Gulch TH. Temps were already in the mid 30's. Burritos and beverages saved the day. Overall, an amazing and epic trip. We knocked out a good amount of trail with big climbs but I also got my pumpkin handed to me a few times throughout. Well worth it.

Wildflowers
Brittles and poppies mostly. Still too early.
Quilter Trail
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Tanque Verde Peak
I got to bag the last of the 3 major peaks in the Rincons, and got to do it in some...interesting...weather. It was pretty nasty on New Years Day, but the forecast said the rain would go away by 5ish, so we thought that worst-case we'd have to start the hike that afternoon in ponchos. To our surprise, things had cleared up by the time we reached the trailhead at around 1pm.

We were dry for the entire hike to Juniper Basin, but we were hiking in clouds for the last mile and a half or so. As we were setting up camp it started raining, and that went on until just about the time of night when it would've turned to snow. This made for some fun shaking the frozen raindrops off of our tents the next day.

Altogether, the camping experience was very wet and cold. Despite a valiant effort, it was impossible to get a real fire going. The toilet was impossible to find in the dark, though in the morning we discovered it about 30 yds from the creek off the path between sites 1 and 2. I don't think the temps got far below freezing, but my 22 degree sleeping bag was about at its limit.

The hiking on this trip was worth the trouble though. TVR trail, which I had been on a few times before, is always great, and the area from Juniper Basin to the summit (which we experienced for the first time on this clear morning with a fresh dusting of snow) is amazing. There was water everywhere, and that made the hike down from Cowhead Saddle to the Manning Camp Trail particularly enjoyable. By the time we reached the Quilter Trail it was a slog, but this was a great 27 hours in the mountains.
Quilter Trail
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
AZT: Vail to Oracle
March 24th
Miles: 17.46
AEG: 5,520 ft

We flew through the first couple of miles to X9 Ranch Road, where we left off the last time we got off the AZT in this area.

Back on the AZT!

Soon we reached the Saguaro National Park boundary. Up until this point the wildflowers were sparse and withered, but from here there were plenty of great looking blooms for the next couple of miles. After taking a short break at the Quilter Trail water crossing, we passed our first thru-hiker of the trip and started the long climb to the top of Mica Mountain.

As we climbed the environment slowly transitioned from saguaros and ocotillos, to shrubs and century plants, then oak grasslands, and finally pinion-oak as we rolled into the Grass Shack Campground. Here we met 3 other thru-hikers. One was on her first thru-hike, and the other two (No Trace & Unbreakable) are triple crowners (those who have completed the PCT, AT, and CDT). We stopped to eat lunch and enjoy the company at the campground. It's always fun to pick the brains of triple crowners.

After finishing up lunch, we filled our bottles at the spring and continued on the trail up to Manning Camp. From Grass Shack, the environment transitions to a hearty ponderosa pine forest. At the campground there was one other person staying the night, a section hiker from Canada who had picked up the trail at Grass Shack and was planning on continuing to Superior.

By the time we were going to bed I was feeling pretty crappy. Extremely soar throat and congested. Before starting the trip I was still getting over a chest cold, and apparently I wasn't better yet. We expected it to be very cold at 8000ft, but surprisingly we both kept pretty warm the entire night.

March 25th
Miles: 21.97
AEG: 2,910 ft

Today was our "long day", with minimal AEG. Our goal was to make it to Molino Basin Campground. I woke up feeling slightly better.

After packing up camp and getting some more water at the spring, we headed up the trail for the top of Mica Mountain. Along the way we passed No Trace and Unbreakable again. The pine forest on top of Mica is quite impressive. Once we topped out and started down the other side, views of the basin below and Mt. Lemmon open up. Italian Spring had drinkable water but lots of algae on top.

We started the long descent into the basin below, and then the traverse across the hills to the base of Lemmon. Beautiful grasslands! By now the mistake of wearing newish shoes for this hike had caught up with me and my right foot had been rubbed raw on the back. I tried fixing things up with some mole skin and some bandaids.

Just before the Lake, we caught up to the section hiker from Canada who was going to stop at the next drainage. We stopped with him at the drainage to get some water for the last hump into the campground.

Once we got to the campground we greeted the camp host to get a spot. We asked him if there was any water around, he claimed "there is no water, it's dry out here." We were both surprised a little considering how much water we had seen getting to this point. He kindly offered us a liter each to make it through the night, and gave us a spot which was right next to the AZT. We didn't quite believe him about the water situation, so once we set up camp we dropped into creek bed below the campground and sure enough there were spots that had running water (not even 200 yards away from the camp host, I might add...)


March 26th
Miles: 17.25
AEG: 5,133 ft

I woke up feeling terrible, super congested, coughing up lots of phlegm, and running a small fever. I thought about bailing at the Highway next to the campground, but decided to try a few miles before making the decision. The going was extremely slow, probably less than 2mph.

We reached Shreve Saddle and took a quick break, I popped some Tylenol for the fever. I knew after this point I was going to be committed for some serious uphill either going forward or turning back. I decided to keep going.

We saw lots of people along this stretch going to Hutch's Pool. It was cool to see Saguaros again near the bottom, because at the end of the day we would be back up in the Pines. I'm a sucker for "transition hikes." Once we reached the bottom, we took another break in Sabino Canyon where there was flowing water. This was the point where I was either going to commit all the way to Summerhaven or go back. I nearly turned back here, but there was just too much planning that went into this and I wasn't sure I would be able to come back to finish this up for a long time.

We passed the junction to Hutch's Pool and started the long climb up through the west fork of Sabino Canyon. This place is stunning. With every foot of elevation gain the views got better. The trail itself is graded extremely well so the climbing felt almost effortless. Once again we got to see the transitions from saguaros, to sparse pines on Romero Pass. There were plenty of pools and spots with running water in the canyon.

I was starting to feel a bit better after we took a 30-45 minute break at the pass. It was a good thing too, because this is where the real climbing starts. You aren't graced with very many switch back after this point, it's just straight up. About half way through huffing and puffing, I looked at my Arizona Trail app to see how much further we had to climb and let out a little snicker. My cousin asked "what's up?" and I told him "do you really want to know?", he said "yes", I told him "it gets steeper." We both laughed and continued up the mountain.

After topping out and taking a break, we joined the Wilderness of Rocks trail. This was by far my favorite part of the hike. This is one of those places that feel really special, a feeling of reverence overcame me. We meandered through the beautiful giant boulders and trees, before reaching an awesome spot to camp right next to Lemmon Creek.

By the time we were going to bed I felt great, except for my feet. I used some alcohol wipes, and anti-septic wipes before reapplying a few bandaids.

As we drifted to sleep I heard a series of bangs/explosions in the distance, which culminated into a bunch of bangs/explosions at once. Fireworks in Tucson?

March 27th
Miles: 18.8
AEG: 2,609 ft

We got up excited for a real meal in Summerhaven. It was actually warm enough during the night that I started sweating in my quilt. After eating a quick breakfast and filling our bottles with water out of Lemmon Creek, we started the gradual 1000ft climb to where we would meet the Marshall's Gultch Trail. I was still awe struck by beauty and grandeur of the Wilderness of Rock. We made our way to the paved road we would walk into town on.

After satisfying a soda and candy craving at the General Store, we ate some breakfast at the Sawmill Run restraunt. The manager or owner (not sure which) came out to talk to us and asked if we were on our way to Utah. We told him we were ending this segment in Oracle.

Oracle Ridge was hot. On the way down we met a 3 time triple crowner "One Gallon", who was taking a siesta in the shade of some cedars. We talked with him for about 45 minutes. Another very interesting person.

We reached the American Flag TH about an hour before the sun set.

This now puts us at just over 50% of AZT miles completed, and we have now connected a foot path all the way from the border to Roosevelt. Woo hoo!
Quilter Trail
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Douglas Spring/Mica Mtn/Grass Shack
Day 1: Finished work at 4, dropped of a car at Loma Alta, and got shuttled to Douglas Spring TH just before 6. We had to use headlamps almost the entire way, but it was a pretty smooth hike. Thanks to the camper at Site 1 who directed us to Site 2 and let us use his bear locker (even though there was a bear locker at Site 3 just about 40 feet away from us which we were too stupid to see in the dark). Since we got there so late, there was a lot of getting disoriented trying to find our way around, and hopefully our confused ranting didn't keep the other camper awake. I'm afraid we were quite close to being those campers...

Day 2: Went up to Cowhead Saddle, Spud Rock, and Mica Mountain, then down the Mica Mountain Trail to Manning Camp and down the Manning Camp Trail to Grass Shack for the night. A pretty big day, and the weather couldn't have been any better. Back in May I only lasted about 5 mins on Spud Rock before getting cold, but now in December it was warm with just the slightest breeze. The descent from Mica that afternoon as the sun was setting was about as good as it gets.

Day 3: Booked it down to Loma Alta in 4 hrs so that we could make it to work that afternoon. Remind me to never ascend this route in the summer. Gorgeous this time of year though.

Plenty of water at Grass Shack and Manning Camp, and pretty good flow at Douglas Spring. No beer at Grass Shack. :-({|=
Quilter Trail
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Only had time for a quick one today, and I was in the area so I thought I would hit this one up again. I started out from the Loma Alta trailhead, and quickly got to appreciate the brand new AZT gate that just got installed! Funny, I was here last month for my big backpack trip and didn't expect to see anything new. Some great custom welding on this one, nicely installed too. ;) I made the trip over to Hope Camp and enjoyed a little break. Enjoyed the shade of a mesquite tree while sitting on one of the old wells. Made a quick side trip up Quilter on the way back for sentimentality's sake. Made it home in time to shower up and take the wife out for a nice date night meal. Thumbs up all around.
Quilter Trail
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
What a trip! I have been looking at this hike (or some variation) for some time now. I started from the Loma Alta TH about 3:30 after finishing up work, and about an hour later than I had wanted to start, but sometimes duty calls...Overloaded with more stuff than I need (as per usual) the grind up was pretty taxing, especially with the high humidity level. I was sweating buckets the whole way up! I had to navigate the last hour + by headlamp which made for really slow going, especially trying to find an overgrown trail and make my way across numerous wet creek crossings. There is flowing water everywhere in the Rincons right now, I have never seen so much water and green growth out here! All the washes are flowing, and there are waterfalls around every corner it seemed. The Quilter trail and the first 4 miles of the Mannig Camp trail are really overgrown, lots of annuals and grasses going to town with all of the moisture. Soaked my boots making the crossing to the Grass Shack campground, my destination for the night. I had enough energy to set up camp and filter some water, but I was too wiped to even worry about dinner. Slept really well in the tent, temps were in the mid to low 60's so very comfortable. Got up a bit before the sun on Wednesday for some breakfast, and then loaded up for the trip up the mountain. Made good time up to Manning Camp where I stopped for a break to look around, have a snack, and filter some water. Clouds were looming in and the thunder started up as I was approaching Mica Mountain, but I had come too far to not make my goal. Made it to the top and signed the register, saw a few familiar names in the book. From here I continued on the Fire Loop over to Spud Rock and made the scramble up. Fantastic views up above, simply breathtaking! Enjoyed a summit brew and had to skedaddle, there was a big dark cloud hanging over Mica and I knew better than to chance it. I went down the Fire loop to the Cow Head Saddle trail when the sprinkling started. This kept up for about 45 minutes, and then the real rain started. I had to take a break to stow my electronics in a dry bag and I got out my rain jacket, all the while trying to get further down the mountain and away from the potential lightning...Made the Cow Head Saddle and took the Douglas Spring trail on back to camp. It rained hard enough that my boots got soaked through in pretty quick fashion, this ended up rubbing a pretty nasty hole under my right ankle once I was back to camp to assess damages. I finally ate my lunch about 3:30, and dozed in the tent waiting for the bugs to go away with the dark. Woke up for a quick snack and to send off a SPOT signal to my wife so she didn't fret too much. Thursday I woke up about 5:30 to get in an early breakfast and get packed up for the trip out. I had my first human contact in two days when I ran into Andrew from the NPS trail crew about a mile or so onto the Quilter trail. I stopped to chat for a few and share some experiences, nice guy! From here I powered down to Rincon Creek (I am pretty sure) for a snack and to filter some more water. Finally made it back to the trusty Quest van about 11:30 to take off my boots and see that I had a big blister on my left foot and a few more rub marks form all of the wet boot hiking. I don't think my boots were ever dry on this trip, I might have retired this pair in style. Headed back into Tucson for some much needed lunch at one of my favorites, La Parilla Suiza. Promptly inhaled a chile relleno, enchilada, rice, beans, two bowls of chips, two cups of water, and two cups of iced tea. Refueled, I headed back to Phoenix for a nice shower at home and then some family time. Simply amazing trip, any time you can go through 6 different bio-zones on a hike you know you have done well. P.S., if anyone makes it up to the Grass Shack in the near future, there are a few extra Sunspot Gold ales in the bear box at site two, if the rangers do not get to it first...

Wildflowers
Huge amounts of color from about 3500' to 5000', spotty above there.
Quilter Trail
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Grass Shack from Loma Alta
Saguaros were in full bloom, the Arizona Rainbow cacti near the campsite looked like they will be blooming in the next few weeks.

Made a how-to video on backpacking in SNP: https://www.youtube.co...
Quilter Trail
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Up TVR and Cowhead Saddle trails to the Rincon high point at Mica Mountain, an outstanding ridge hike with huge views and gradually changing flora, cactus-to-conifers. Then back down on AZT #9 to the Camino Loma Alta trailhead. Juniper Basin was dry, good water at Manning Camp and Grass Shack. Bike shuttle between start/end.
Quilter Trail
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We decided to check out the Quilter trail and stay at Grass Shack for a night. We posted the adventure on the Tucson Backpackers Meetup. Our group was 4 backpackers + a dayhiker.

I enjoyed the Quilter trail as it's not often I get to backpack amongst the saguaros and other cactus. We had a great view of Rincon Peak a good stretch of the way. As a bonus we found what we called the MacLoad = Macdougal's Nipple Cactus Motherload! We found at least 8 in one area! It has been a great month for Macdougal's for me!

The Quilter trail connects up with the Manning-Madrona trail almost in a spot where I sprained my ankle really badly 4 years ago on a volunteer trip. It brought back memories. I was especially careful in that area to make sure I didn't trip!

We got to Grass Shack and Mark headed back so that he could complete the hike within daylight hours. The rest of us set up camp and did all the normal chores. Chimenea creek was flowing so we didn't have to worry about water. It seems like this would be a pretty reliable location for water.

While everyone else was reading and resting, I took off exploring up Chimenea Canyon. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw! I'll just leave it at that :)

We had a nice quiet night; we didn't have to share the campground with others. We spent time trading backpacking tips and talking about cats and dogs.

In the morning, we were nearly ready to leave camp and a solo backpacker arrived. He had started at 2 AM and arrived to Grass Shack at 9 AM. I am not a fan of night hiking so I just don't understand what possessed him to start at that ungodly hour.

We had an uneventful trip back to the cars. We did see some waterfalls in the distance in Madrona Canyon. We also stopped to check out the Macdougal's again on our way back.

Over all the Quilter trail is a Sonoran Desert Delight and I can't wait to go back!

Permit $$
None

Saguaro National Park
2019 $20 vehicle, $15 motorcycle or $10 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Tucson, take I-10 East to exit #279 (Wentworth/Vail Road). Go north on Vail road for 3 miles to intersection with Camino Loma Alta. Take a left and follow the road about 5.5 miles until the Loma Alta parking area. The last 0.5-.75 mile is on a smooth gravel road. Hike roughly 2.5 miles on the Hope Camp Trail to the Quilter trailhead on the left.
page created by papakyria on Apr 17 2011 4:30 pm
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