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Cat Cave Loop - Sonoita Creek SNA, AZ

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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 10.02 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,885 feet
Elevation Gain 1,320 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.62
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
4  2016-01-03 ads99
Author ads99
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 11
Photos 49
Trips 15 map ( 93 miles )
Age 77 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:19am - 7:31pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Where's the cave?
by ads99

Hike described includes the following trails located in Patagonia State Park and Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

Sonoita Creek Trail - 1.5 miles (twice)
Railroad Trail - 2.5 miles
Cat Cave Trail - 2.5 miles
Coal Mine Spring Trail - 1 mile

This is an excellent trail in a beautiful area - always interesting and challenging. It took me three attempts to get this trail right. I recommend you go left to right, as the more confusing sections are in the first half of the loop. Start from the Patagonia Lake State Park parking area and take the Sonoita Trail down to the Sonoita Creek, to the Railroad Trail junction. This is the "knot" for the lasso style loop trail. If you prefer to go right instead, note that the Coal Mine Spring Trail is offset and starts straight uphill.

The Railroad trail follows the creek and can be very tricky in places, due to the many cattle paths in the reedy areas, as the whole area is open range. When in doubt, default to paths nearer to the bluffs and away from the creek. Always look for the raised (railroad, once?) bed. Follow to the Sonoita Creek Campsite

The Cat Cave trail starts at the Sonoita Creek campsite. Note that the Cat Cave trail is behind the signage and not easily recognized. Do not go up the path into the gully, which is far more visible and seemingly correct! The trail rises to high hilly country that has tall grass and stony ground, both obscuring the thin trail and can be challenging to follow, however volunteers have built an excellent cairn system on the Cat Cave and Coal Spring Trail, so just be alert. At about 1.4 miles the Cat Cave Trail crosses the west loop of the Coal Mine Spring Trail, and another mile further it ends at the eastern junction of the Coal Mine Spring Loop Trail. Follow the Coal Mine Spring trail (1.0 miles) as slopes back down to the Sonoita Spring Trail junction and return.

Check out the Official Route.

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2016-01-04 ads99
  • 2013 Sonoita Creek SNA Map
    area related
    2013 Sonoita Creek SNA Map
  • 2021 SCSNA & LPSP
    area related
    2021 SCSNA & LPSP
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 $$
AZ State Parks more info
2021 Day Use Fees range from $2–$30

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
Trailhead & Parking: Sonoita State Natural Area Trailhead/ Patagonia Lake State Park, off of Patagonia Lake Road
page created by ads99 on Jan 04 2016 11:50 am
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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