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Golden Gate Mountain, AZ

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Guide 14 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
Rated
3.5
3.5 of 5 by 4
 
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Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 2.01 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,976 feet
Elevation Gain 1,318 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Dogs not allowed
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17  2015-01-20 Jim_H
26  2012-01-18 rwstorm
1  2010-03-30 keepmoving
38  2008-11-30 PhilipMueller
12  2001-12-29
Golden Gate & Bren
rwstorm
Author PhilipMueller
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 5
Photos 926
Trips 53 map ( 310 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:20pm
Official Route
 
1 Alternative
 
Water
Flora Nearby
Choose Your Own Adventure!
by PhilipMueller

Gates Pass (GP) is one of the best places in the world from which to watch the sunset. At the western foot of the pass sits Golden Gate Mountain (GG). You may have seen this distinctive mountain shooting up from the desert floor in an old western as it lies just east of Old Tucson Studios. Legend has it that GG was so named because early prospectors believed that GP and GG were the gateway to the gold in them there hills of the Tucson Mountains. Should you dare to squeeze in a scramble up GG, I hope you find some gold. If not, though, you'll still have a fantastic time.

The ascent up and descent down GG are of the "choose your own adventure" variety. While there is a trail near the base of GG-GG Loop Trail--there is no trail to the top of the mountain. I'll share with you the route I used. At 2,976 ft in elevation, the parking lot puts you at the north base of the mountain. You can look up and see lots of washes running down the north face. I chose to ascend with a wash to the far right, as viewed from the parking lot, as my guide to the top. I wanted to hit the northern edge of the ridge and then cruise along the top for a descent somewhere near the southern edge, but still on the north face (the ridge runs NW/SE). The quickest route toward said wash began with skirting the handrails at the south end of the parking lot to step into a drainage and then to step back up into the thicket. Within about 400 ft, I intersected with the GG Loop Tr. without having to waste time accessing it the long way "round via D. Yetman Tr. (not really that long, but still inefficient for my purposes). About 400 ft later, I exited stage left from the GG Loop Tr. to head up a wash filled with large boulders, some Chollas, and lots of Palo Verdes and Jojobas. About 800 ft later, I exited the wash to the left and scrambled up some high ground with the former wash to my right and another wash to my left. Around .6 miles, I really started using my hands more as I made the final push to the northern tip of the ridge. After bloodying up a finger, I put my gloves on. Around 4,000 ft in elevation, I hit a fairly dense patch of Jumping Chollas and a minefield of dropped Cholla stems. With limited routes at this point, it was tricky not to get tagged--so tricky that two mines detonated on my shoe and one clamped onto my calf. Hey, better than a rattler striking and nothing that a fork, along with a cathartic shout, couldn't remove. Soon I was standing atop the NW edge, what I called Peak 1. Elevation was 4,033 ft, and total mileage thus far was .66 mi. Thus, I enjoyed a little over 1k ft of elevation gain in just over 1/2 a mile. Not too shabby!

Alas, there were still a few more feet to be gained by heading SE along the ridge. I headed up some rocky terrain, then through some grass, and then over some rocks again for a total of about 1/10th mi until I reached Peak 2, coming in at 4,209 ft. It was very windy at this point, so I removed my hat lest it blow away. From here, I had to cross a bridge of rocks on a very narrow strip of the ridge for about a hundred yards or so which headed straight into an insurmountable rockface at the base of Peak 3. I was presented with a choice of going around to the left or right. I went left and found some decent footholds and gripping points for scrambling. After I was done with this little bit of scrambling, I came upon a cairn and a few steps later the top of Peak 3-4,270 ft. Curiously, I "found" the initials "PM" constructed of pebbles near this spot. Perhaps an ancient ancestor? I moved along to Peak 4, which came in at 4,266 ft, and I walked across another bridge to Peak 5. There were some Chollas, but it wasn't too bad. Here I found a register and the elevation was coming in at 4,294 ft. At a moderate pace with stops for photos, catching a breath, removing Cholla stems, etc., it took about 1 hr 45 min to get to this point, which was .94 mi total into this little hussy. I checked out the views: even though the wind had stirred up a lot of, inter alia, dust, and visibility wasn't the greatest, it was still pretty awesome... views similar to nearby Cat Mountain (you can read that description if you like). At this point, the Thanksgiving leftovers I had eaten for breakfast were but a fleeting memory for my insatiable stomach and without having packed a morsel of food, I was delighted to discover a Clif Bar and an Odwalla Bar in the register jar--still sealed and ready to be consumed. As I munched on these victuals, I read the register to discover that the bars had been placed there in April of 2008, perhaps explaining their dryness and somewhat off taste. Note, the Clif bar held up better than the Odwalla bar, but then again, how much worse can a glorified cow chip get? Additionally, the Good Samaritans also wrote in the register that they had decided against leaving a burrito in the jar. Yeah, that wouldn't have held up as well. Anyway, it was awfully nice that prior hikers had left something for me to eat, and I will pay a cow chip forward on a future hike. As I rummaged through the jar, I found another Clif bar, which I left to bake some more in the sun, and an American flag.

Moving on, I followed some kind of use trail toward Peak 6 where at 1.07 miles, I found a stone wall that someone had put together. A few hundred feet from that, I found a table and chairs constructed of stone placements right at the base of Peak 6. I didn't ascend Peak 6 and instead turned back to a wash that ran up between Peak 5 and 6. I think a lot of people come up this way because for a short time there was a use trail of sorts and things were a little more trampled here. Also, it seems to be the most direct route to the cookie jar... I mean register. There was a lot of loose rock after the short "trail" ended. Be careful. I scrambled down the wash for a few hundred ft, which narrowed, and a few hundred ft further down, I had to exit a steep section of the wash to the right, then crossed back over to the left side. I soon encountered a daunting Cholla patch so I continued to veer left away from the wash and toward the parking lot. At 1.63 miles, I came upon another wash headed toward D. Yetman Tr. that was filled with Palo Verdes and Jojobas. I hiked just to the right of this wash and hit the GG Loop Tr. a few hundred feet later. I few yards north on that, I hopped off into the thicket toward D. Yetman Tr. and at 1.77 mi I was on that wide, luxurious trail gliding toward the parking lot. At 2.01 miles total, I was back in the lot staring up at GG to look at where I had been.

For such a short hike, I actually ended up spending about 3.5 hrs total. I recommend a trip up and down GG to anyone who enjoys a good scramble and doesn't mind getting bushwhacked a bit. If you do go up, please exercise caution because it is pretty steep and rugged, and there are quite a few loose rocks--even big ones that you wouldn't think would move under your feet. Take your time, choose your steps wisely, and have fun!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2008-12-02 PhilipMueller
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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
Golden Gate Mountain
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Tucson Mountains Tuesday Two-fer
Ah, first hike back in the desert after a week in Anaheim for Disney and beach fun. First off, thanks to Philbeer for posting the tracks for Golden Gate and Bren mountain last week, I saw those and it got me thinking. I have been wanting to hit Golden Gate Mountain for a while, throw in another nearby peak and I am sold. Made it out to the Yetman trailhead about 3 to start my fun for the day. The trip up Golden Gate is very steep, but easy to follow. It is a pretty thin trail in spots, but the trip up is extensively cairned, a little overkill in spots even. Nice summit with good views out to the west and south especially. The weather was getting interesting, but I thought I would have enough time for a second summit before the storm started. Made it back down to the Yetman trail and then on to Gates Pass trail for a bit. I went up the west side of Bren Mountain, and there is no trail whatsoever. I found a drainage and followed it up quite a ways, but then the rocks turned to scree and it was mighty steep. It kept getting steeper, and the lightning was looming, but I actually figured I would be safer making it to the summit and going down the backside which looked to be less steep. I ended up going up a rock face for the last 40-50' up to the peak, and I was really happy to see some semblance of a trail on the other side. Very brief stop up top to see lightning hitting on the slopes just to the east of me, all the motivation I needed to haul butt down the other side. If I hit Bren again any time soon, it will be by way of the North and East route...Made it back to the van no worse for wear other than a few scratches, I managed to miss the abundant cholla up here, but had plenty of bursage to pull out of the socks and boots. Pretty short for my usual offerings, but this one was all work.
Golden Gate Mountain
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Had such a good time on the lower desert peaks the last 2 days, that I opted to enjoy the continued warm weather and hiked this from Gate's Pass. I went up a nice route that is in a NE facing gully, not the totally off trail way the hike description suggests. It is pretty easy to follow, except near the bottom where it seems to disappear. Great views, and afterward I hiked down to the south and near the entrance of one of the retirement villages. That gave me at least another 500 feet, and I estimate 2 miles.
Golden Gate Mountain
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Great hike on an unexpectedly rainy/cloudy day - 1st time up. About .2 miles up the Yetman Trail we headed SW up in/along/near a drainage - this took us pretty close to the top - the terrain was pretty open and easy paths were reasonably easy to find. Clouds, rain and rainbows were all part of the fun on the way up!

We took a well worn cairned route on the way down - this cairned route intersects the Yetman Trail about .6 miles from the trailhead - it was fun to go up off-trail but might have used the cairned route both ways if we had know how established it was.

Pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmiles/sets/72157644284125474/

Permit $$
Pima County-managed trailheads open at dawn and close at dusk, except as otherwise noted (link below). Be aware that trailhead hours may vary according to location and managing agency. The following trailheads allow after hours parking with a permit: Avenida de Suzenu, Bear Canyon, Campbell, El Camino del Cerro, Pima Canyon, Finger Rock, and Ventana Canyon. No after hours parking is allowed at the other Pima County trailheads. Trailhead parking permits are available at no cost.




Permits are required for Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, Empirita Ranch Access, and overnight parking at Pima County trailheads. Please call 520-877-6158 to request a permit or come in to the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Administration Building at 3500 West River Road Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Permits are not issued on Saturdays, Sundays, or county holidays. Vist pima.gov for more information.


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
In Tucson, take Speedway Blvd. west from I-10 for 4.6 miles, and it turns into Gates Pass Rd. Continue west on Gates Pass Rd. for about 3 miles and the parking lot comes up on your left.
page created by PhilipMueller on Dec 02 2008 1:11 am
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