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Touching the AZ C's: Of Copper n Cattle
Loma Verde trail heads north from the parking lot through some mature mesquites. You will pass intersections with the Mesquite trail at 0.1 miles and the Squeeze Pen Trail at 0.2 miles. Soon you will cross a big sandy wash twice ( Monument Wash) and climb up out onto the plains at the base of the Tanque Verde ridge ( bajadas). At 0.5 miles from TH you will see the Cholla trail head off to your left. Stay on the Loma Verde trail and eventually you will come to the Loma Verde Mine. This is a old copper/gold mine from the early 1900's that was eventually filled in by the CCC in the 1930's.
Heading past the mine you will come to the next junction on the trail with Pink Hill Trail. Turn right and you will be heading up Pink Hill trail to Pink Hill. Panaromic views extends overthe catctus forests and the Catalina nad Rincon mountains. This area has fewer saguaros than the Western Unit ( Tucson Mountain District) , but the place is thick with other cactuses: cholla, prickly pear, barrel, hedgehog - late spring brings carpets of cactus color to the area and early May brings the Sagurao blooms.
Head east from here on the Pink Hill Trail till you reach the intersection with Squeeze Pen Trail and turn right to start heading south back towards the Loma Verde TH. The Carrillo family ranched this land for many years. "Squeeze Pen" harkens back to the days of cattle roundups.
Squeeze Pen Trail is for a while the closest trail to the Rincon Mountains, so its higher elevation makes for the best overall views of the northwest section of the park. Creosote bushes are abundant along the trail as are occotillo, brittlebush, teddy bear cholla and the towering Saguraos in the rocky slopes of the Rincons. You will reach the Loma Verde Trail in 1.5 miles and there you will turn left for last .2 miles through the mesquites to the TH and parking lot.
Pick up a detailed map of the trails & mileage (park newspaper) from the Park Visitor center or download it and have it handy for reference. There are many interlinked trails in this area that allow you to tailor a hike to your liking. Some longer options along the same basic path:
5 mile loop: 1.9 miles on Loma Verde -->Go right for 0.6 miles on Wentworth --> Turn right on Kennedy for a bit till youreach Squeeze Pen --> Follow Squeeze Pen for 2.3 miles to Loma Verde --> finish 0.2 miles on Loma Verde back to TH
5.8 mile loop: 2.1 miles on Loma Verde --> Follow Shantz to your right for 0.8 miles to Kennedy Trail --> Follow Kennedy trail for 1 mile to Carrillo trail --> Go right on Carrillo Trail for 0.5 miles to Squeeze Pen Trail --> Go left on Squeeze Pen for 1.2 miles to Loma Verde --> finish 0.2 miles on Loma Verde back to TH
Additional notes on hiking in the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park
- Water sources in the area are unreliable. Bring all your water with you & make sure you have adequate water. Interlinked trails make it vert tempting to extend your hike -- make sure you are prepared well.
- The Cactus Forest is nearly completely exposed to the afternoon sun. Little shade exists along much of the trail.
- Watch out for cholla & other sharps -- keep a comb handy for extraction of any jumping cholla that chooses to hitch a ride. Cholla pods will get on you if you are not careful! Especially be wary when you step off the trail....
- There are many interlinked trails in the area. Have a map handy and know where you are along your path.
- Trail signs: Sign will display the name of the trail it is facing in large letters at the top, not the trail you are traveling along.
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