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Esperero Trail #25, AZ

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Guide 104 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
3.9 of 5 by 29
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 10.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,850 feet
Elevation Gain 4,700 feet
Avg Time One Way 4.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 25.76
Backpack Possible & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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14  2018-12-08
Window Rock and Window Peak
2  2018-03-24 Pivo
11  2018-02-23
Esperero to Window Peak
3  2017-07-29 Pivo
3  2016-11-17 fearnestiv
4  2016-07-30 air
33  2016-05-07
Sabino - Cathedral Peak - Mt Lemmon
2  2015-11-28
Bear-East Fork-West Fork-Cathedral-Esperero
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Dec, Apr → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:06am - 6:31pm
Official Route
19 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
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Elevator - Going UP!
by HAZ_Hikebot

Distance for this hike is skeptical until further information is obtained.

There are a number of reasons to visit this trail but easy hiking, however, is not one of them. Many hikers start out along this trail that includes several miles of hard climbing because it leads to The Window, a 15' by 25' hole in a fin-like ridge that extends out from Window Peak on Pusch Ridge. For those who get all the way to the top, this creation of gravity and frost frames an unforgettable view of Tucson and the mountains and valleys beyond. For those who choose to stop at points of interest which can be reached with less effort, there are plenty of rewards as well.

Esperero Canyon Trail starts in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, either from the Bear Canyon walkway just past the parking lot or it can be picked up from Sabino Road by Cactus Picnic Area or from Rattlesnake Trail opposite Shuttle Stop #1. If you come on any except the hottest days of summer, you'll be surprised at the amount of wildlife there is to see in the desert. From its starting point, the trail passes through stands of wildly shaped saguaro cactus as it climbs up and over a low ridge into Bird Canyon. This serves as a warm-up for the lung-busting scramble up a particularly rocky section of the trail that goes up and over a second ridge and finally drops into Esperero Canyon. The trail then dodges its way up-canyon into Geronimo Meadow, crossing the creek on several occasions. Water can be found along this stretch during the wettest times of the year and sometimes at Mormon Springs, but don't count on it!

Above Geronimo Meadow, the trail climbs steeply up and out of the canyon to the ridge near Window Peak, and finally to the Window itself. Take care when you get there. There is a sheer drop of over a hundred feet just outside that window.

Attractions: Desert canyon, access to the top of Pusch Ridge, spectacular views and wildlife!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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

2008-02-27 HAZ_Hikebot
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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.

Most recent of 32 deeper Triplog Reviews
Esperero Trail #25
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Pima to Sabino
Started up Pima Canyon on a Friday night and camped about 4.5 miles up the trail. There was water the entire way up, lots of greenery, and the trail was in the best shape that I'd ever seen it. The views out of the canyon at night were amazing, and the weather was beautifully mild.

As I headed further up the canyon the next day, the water became spottier. Realizing that my next guaranteed source of water would be Bridal Veil Falls several canyons over, I decided to top off my water here. Carrying the full pack up to the top of Kimball was quite challenging, and I was worried I might have to bail out through Ventana Canyon if Window Peak was too much. After an hour on the summit of just eating and drinking as much as possible, I actually felt great, and the hike up to the Window and Window Peak felt much better than Kimball. The late afternoon weather was perfect yet again, and after using my last bit of cell service to learn that Oregon didn't implode against Stanford ](*,) , I headed down Esperero Canyon to spend the night at the falls.

MSimmons came up early the next morning, and we easily regained the elevation I lost the night before. We had some bizarre snow/wind/sun on our summit bushwhack, but nothing too ominous. Though we didn't attempt the true summit, I found the rope, and feel good about finding it again with less effort whenever I decide to go back. I started up the formation about 10 feet, was reeeeeeally temped to keep going, but with an old rope, a bit of ice, and worn-out shoes, I didn't want to get too committed.

The rest of the hike was a bit of a blur, since we were utterly desperate to catch the final shuttle out of the canyon. I hadn't been through the West Fork before, and the upper portions of it are top-notch. The stream crossing after Hutch's pool was really tricky, but if I had time I'd probably just take the boots off and walk through it. Hope to be back in this area again with some more time on my hands...
Esperero Trail #25
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Window Peak (via Esperero)
After stewing for a week over my inability to climb Window Peak, I decided to redeem myself by climbing it a tougher way. An earlier start, a more deliberate pace, a bottle of Gatorade, and a Robert's omelet did the trick.

I had been up Esperero only once when I did the Esperero/Ventana loop a few years ago. The trail was easy to follow the whole way, but it has quite a bit of thorny stuff and fallen trees at the top of the canyon and on the back side of Window Peak. The falls were going well enough to use as a water source (assuming that you're the sort of person who's smarter than me and brings a filter).

The use trail to the summit was fine, and the sheltered area between the rock formations would've been a nice place to cool down if I hadn't been in a hurry to find the top. After some trial and error I was able to tarzan my way up the "class tree" :DANCE: scramble to the summit. Of the three highest formations, the north one is the summit, right? The one to the southwest looked a bit higher to me, but there didn't seem to be a safe way up.
Esperero Trail #25
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I might have seen fewer people if I had gone to Disneyland and tried to climb the Matterhorn. Maybe it's a spring break thing, but this is the most people I've ever seen hiking on a Monday outside of Sabino Canyon. After I got up to Maiden Pools, the crowds thinned significantly.

It's been a while since I could hike, and I felt terrific for the first few hours, but I hit a huge wall on the climb out of the canyon (starting just before the Esperero/FR junction). This is a hike that I've done before with little trouble, so I pushed myself through some leg cramps and fatigue that just kept getting worse and worse. I intended to go to Window Peak, but I had to turn around at the Window. I felt awful on the way down and probably shouldn't have even gone as far as I did. I've done tougher hikes in worse shape, so I don't know what the deal was - hopefully it's just a fluke...

Still, a beautiful day in a beautiful canyon.
Esperero Trail #25
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Bear-East Fork-West Fork-Cathedral-Esperero
We had planned to do a repeat of last year's Santa Catalina Front Range Traverse, however the logistics are not very friendly with just two hikers for that hike. A hiking partner suggested this after doing it last week; we were not disappointed. Beautiful day cold morning to start; 31 at my house when I left to meet Bill at the trailhead. It quickly warmed up once we started climbing out of Bear Canyon to our first junction with East Fork trail.

Beautiful running water and Fall colors in all of the major drainages. Surprisingly we didn't see many other hikers on a long holiday weekend. Most of the people we saw were on the West Fork segment. We took a lunch break at the Cathedral Rock West Fork Junction before we started the climb up Cathedral Rock Trail.

Made it back to the car before having to dig out the head lamp. Stopped at Falora Pizza to pickup some well deserved bad carbs. I had the "Fumo" Pizza: smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, chevre, capers and red onion. Delightful!
Esperero Trail #25
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Have you ever been out on a hike and a song was so stuck in your head that any time you hear the song, you think about that hike? I have a feeling that's gonna be true here. New song played in the car ride, and on the hike.

Very enjoyable day, back on Esperero and Ventana. Thanks to fricknaley :app: :app: :app: , who picked me up at Ventana TH and shuttled me over to Sabino. He had an early morning appointment with Blackett's Ridge and was extremely gracious in letting me bum a ride ... walking from Sabino to Ventana afterward in 100-degree heat would not have been a great way to end this one. :yuck: Found myself shooting up Esperero around 5:30am, beautiful temps helped me kick up the pace and get a jump on this one.

The morning trip up Esperero was wonderful. Almost complete shade the whole way up. After I passed an elderly Asian couple at the start of Esperero (just off the road), I never saw another soul the entire day...had both canyons and the peak all to myself. Esperero had one big area of some really thick, high grass in one area, probably 4 feet tall and crazy thick, and dead. Not a good recipe. Farther up, Esperero had the usual brush growth across the trail once past the Cathedral Rock junction. For me, it was the first time on this final section of Esperero, no Cathedral turnoff today.

Made my way toward Window Peak — especially loved slipping over the ridge and seeing the view of Oro Valley, Catalina, and northwest Tucson. Once I made it up to Window Peak I never could find the register, once I made it up to the top I looked around but just wasn't in the exact right spot. Lots of really large boulders there with steep dropoffs between them. Spent over a half hour soaking up the view, then headed down. The heat was on, but I still had a lot of shade thanks to the oaks and juniper until dropping to 4500 feet.

Before leaving the oaks, funny, I startled a snake relaxing and staying cool in one of the branches. He quickly tried to get down and put his weight on a branch that was dead. It snapped and he fell down onto the ground (ouch!).

Oh, and the song? Like friendofThundergod, I'm a total alternative music guy... check out "Stressed Out" by twenty one pilots. Crazy dudes. Careful tho, this song can get in your head and not leave... ... 6vMY ](*,)
Esperero Trail #25
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Kimball - Window Peak - Cathedral Trifecta
Let me start by saying that I fell short of the title, but have listed it as such for comparative. That said, I set out as prepared and confident as I could be; I was well rested, the weather was perfect, I had a full moon to assist in the predawn and evening ends of the hike, I even had a massive water cache 2/3 of the way in. I had it all covered. To put icing on the cake, I hit the TH 5 minutes early instead of my usual 15 minutes late. Topping that by bagging Kimball 1/2 hour ahead of Schedule, I had 35 minutes in reserve. The details of what happened between Kimball and Cathedral are but a haze. I was so focused on the final acquisition that I turned off all that was happening along the way. Imagine my dismay as wandered the base of that massive rock pile, after all those hours, after all those miles, after all that sweat, just to run out the clock without reaching my goal :(

The return trip had now begun under an aire of defeat. Every mile seemed to last for hours. I crawled into my car at about 8:45 p.m. and reclined the seat, where I napped for about an hour. From there, I took myself home to sleep on the carpet (I didn't even have the energy to shower). My last thoughts as I faded into slumber were of how greatly I had failed. Somewhere in my sleep, that turned around and I awoke this morning feeling a great self-worth. I fell short of my goal today, but had made huge accomplishments, the mountain may have beat me today, but I fought it every inch of the way, and I'll be back.

Just on the side, maybe someone can enlighten me, but aren't tooooo many cairns just not helpful? I thought that hikers built cairns to help other hikers find their way. Have you ever been to the base of Cathedral Rock? It's like a cairn farm. It's like "guess how many cairns there are per square foot and win a prize". You need a track just to get you around the cairns, or you could use the 'odd-even' cairns as your guide. I have never seen sooo many cairns on every point of the compass... end rant. Goodnight. :D
Esperero Trail #25
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Packed up with water and took a stroll. My primary mission is always to burn the day away hiking. Mission 1 accomplished. My secondary goal was to drop a stash of water near Window Peak to facilitate an upcoming run to Cathedral Rock. Great hike on my favorite trails. I hope my stash is still there Friday.
Esperero Trail #25
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A great end to my weekend. Met John at the TH around 8 and we set out under overcast an sky. John was pretty lethargic, but I didn't let him slow me down too much. I just kept prodding him along. Well, that might not be completely accurate, but I kinda like the way it sounds. Anywho, this one destroyed me, but will certainly be memorable. John took it easy on me, allowing me to drag the out the accent, however, the decent was more a trail run than anything. Thanks for the company John. Again sometime. By the way, I've ordered my Fenix...

and now :stretch:
Esperero Trail #25
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
I thought this would be a nice way to see some terrain I have not yet visited, plus unlike the top of Mount Lemmon, this was mild and not forecast to have 30 mph winds. It ended up being a little hot, perhaps over 80, while hiking the desert parts. It was nice, though, and better than being cold. I had a preplanned turn around at Esperero Wash, which took me a fairly long time to get to. The desert is nice, and the riparian part where I turned back looked like it got interesting again, but the grassy middle was a bit dull. Probably didn't help that it was overcast by that point. This hike strengthens my belief that the front range needs a rolling foothills trail from the west end to the Sabino area.
Esperero Trail #25
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
One of the best hikes of the year. Enjoyed the views, the perfect weather, and the great company.

We started out shortly after 5:30am, heading up Esperero and quickly ran into 3 whitetail. Well up Esperero in the cliffs above the oaks, we heard and eventually spotted a wild turkey. He really enjoyed talking to Denny, who can sound and act like a turkey ;)

Fairly easy going until Cathedral Rock Trail, with almost content stellar views of the Santa Ritas. Then things started getting a little steep. Turning off Cathedral Rock trail to follow the faint trail that turned to a scramble to the top made it definitely kept the heart rates up. After we had been scrambling off trail for several minutes, a guy named Al with us realized his smartphone had come out of his pocket. We decided to push onto the top, and hope to run into it by following the GPS track exactly on the way back to Cathedral Rock Trail.

The ropes area near the top was awesome. Just enough to really push you, but not too difficult. It wasn't until just before the very top that you finally get that awesome view of Oro Valley and all the little peaks to the west and northwest like Safford and Picacho, that looked like little hills off in the distance. Reached the top around 11:10 and signed the register on top, really sturdy watertight PVC tube with a register going back to March. On the way back down, carefully retracing our steps, we actually found his cell phone underneath a tree we climbed over while scrambling to the top. Amazing, I just knew that thing was long gone! Made it down just after 4pm.

Thanks Denny for coming down today, and making the day twice as fun.

By the way, bought a frog towel a while back, yesterday the first time I've used it. It is flippin awesome!! Stayed cold all day. I reset it one (even tho it still had not dried out), used warm water and it still turned cold.

Permit $$
Visit this link for full details.

There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day use sites.

Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $10 extra.

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

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Sabino Canyon Recreation Trailhead
From the intersection of Tanque Verde and Grant/Kolb Rd head northeast on Tanque Verde. Turn left at the second light on Sabino Canyon Rd. Go about 8 miles up Sabino Canyon Rd and you come to a four way stop with Sunrise. Go straight through the intersection and take the next right into the parking lot of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Signs marking the way start on North Kolb road.

This is the universal directions to Sabino Canyon Recreation Center. Hikes take off from all directions and some you might need to hike another trail to get to the start of your hike. Reference the hike summary for details.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 117 mi - about 1 hour 57 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 14.1 mi - about 30 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 261 mi - about 4 hours 1 min
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