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Cowboy Slickrock Trail - Catalina Mountains, AZ

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Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,699 feet
Elevation Gain -95 feet
Accumulated Gain 125 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.52
Interest Off-Trail Hiking
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1  2017-10-27 markthurman53
10  2017-10-24
Middle Gate and Cherry Tank Loop
author avatar Guides 187
Routes 826
Photos 9,755
Trips 658 map ( 5,627 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
Historical Weather
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Preferred Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:45am - 7:11pm
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

It’s a trail on either end
by markthurman53

This is a trail on the western slopes of the Catalina Mountains below Samaniego Ridge. Most of these trails in this area are used as mountain bike trails but do see some hikers, especially as you get higher up on Samaniego Ridge's slopes. There is a maze of trails in this area. Many of them are not officially named routes. Signage in this area is nonexistent. This trail is entirely on National Forest, but access is from State Trust land, and a State Trust Land Permit may be required. The locals informed me that hiking in the area didn’t require a permit but parking on state Trust Land probably does. The rules for State Trust Land require that you get a permit if entering Trust Land. I went online and got a year pass for $15.00 to be on the safe side. The Majority of the trails in this area are on National Forest, but the Trailheads are on Trust Land. Accessing this trail is from the Golder Ranch Road Trailhead via the Middle Gate Trail and the 50 Year Upper Trail or the Cherry Tank Trail.

This trail is a short 1.1 miles that connects the 50 year Upper Trail to the Cherry Tanks Trail. This trail’s eastern end is at the Cherry Tanks Trail, where it crosses Sutherland Creek. The trail heads due west, skirting the south side of an unnamed granite peak, staying well below the 4175-foot summit. After leaving Sutherland Creek, it climbs just over 100 feet to cross over a ridge on this peak's southwest side. The trail from the creek for the first 0.5 miles is easy to follow and appears to get some bike traffic. This is where I ran into difficulty locating the trail; at the peak of the trail, large slabs of exposed granite (slickrock, although it is not slick) become commonplace. Since this is used as a bike trail, I believe the trail follows these slabs, but it is unmarked. For the next 0.5 miles, I could only locate small portions of the trail where it came off the rocks, and I ended up bushwhacking most of the way. The trail follows down this southwest running ridge that comes down off the large granite hill 4175 to the northeast. Once down the ridge, the trail appears again in excellent shape and easy to follow for the last 0.1 miles to the 50 Year Upper trail. Having a GPS with the route is helpful. If you are using this route I have posted, after 0.5 miles in from the east, don’t trust what I have used only as a guide to give general direction. The last 0.2 miles are accurate. The key to following the trail is to think like a biker, stay on the flat granite surfaces where possible, and at about 0.7 miles in, stay on the ridge heading down. Several sucker trails lead down off the ridge to the east and end up going nowhere. If you have the opportunity to load this route on Google Earth, you will see the large granite Slabs at 0.5 miles in where I lost the trail and where I headed down the ridge. I was just to the east of what looks like the trail. Have fun and happy trail hunting.

When on this trail, while not trying to find it, don’t forget to look back (East) up Sutherland canyon. The views are impressive. Colossal granite rocks are the tops of the granitic plutons that rose in this area. This pluton makes up most of Samaniego Ridge and was a separate event from the mount Lemmon granites.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

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

2017-10-27 markthurman53

    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.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Recreational Land Permits
    For hiking, driving & sightseeing purposes, you seek the recreational permit.
    Under "Recreational Land Use" in the link above.
    2020 - $15.00 individual
    2020 - $20.00 family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18
    Plus $1 processing fee
    The permitting process quick, you will be emailed your permit instantly.

    Land Parcel Map

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Tucson, take Hwy 77 (Oracle Road) to the town of Catalina. At Golder Ranch Road, turn right. Follow Golder Ranch Road until it turns to dirt, go through the cattle guard, take an immediate left on E. Equestrian Trail. Follow the dirt road for 0.6 miles, turn right at the corral. Follow the 4WD road 0.7 miles to the trailhead at corral and cattle guard.
    page created by markthurman53 on Oct 27 2017 10:43 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    prehydrate & stay hydrated

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