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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Up, Up...and Away!
This is a great, fast getaway hike that gets the heart pumping and offers limitless possibilities for boulder playing. Out of Tucson, You drive up Catalina Highway towards Mt. Lemmon. Pull over and park in the large, paved side road pull-off prior to the first hairpin curve in the first mile of the highway up the mountain.
Cross the road and enter the drainage, heading upstream. This is a popular climbing area and the first few hundred yards may have several people playing, but you come to a drainage split after a few hundred yards... head left (straight) up the wash and begin enjoying the various rock challenges that will slowly move you further up and up... eventually reaching the crack in the cliff faces far above (The Pillars). There is some route finding to do as you get closer to the cliffs, mostly minor choices regarding loose rock and shrubbery.
As you enter the split in the cliffs you will be at a great spot for the day's picnic. You can proceed on and up through the cliffs to the top of the mesa, but the route choices may become more demanding. The real potential lies in playing around with the various bouldering challenges to be found below the Pillars... a great place to get a full-body workout while practicing skills. Some hikers consider this hike dangerous... and at each potential challenge care should be taken to pick the route best suited to your skill levels, but there are always options, and usually, an easy alternative to take. The bouldering aspects include numerous 7' to 15' obstacles, with a bit more potential exposure right below the Pillars opening into the cliffs. This one is exciting right from the car door exit to the final plop down for the well-deserved meal up in the cliffs. Once completed, forever after you'll note your route as you drive down Mt. Lemmon Hiway... and go "..wow! I was up there!"
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