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Ventana Falls Loop, AZ

Guide 12 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.2 of 5 
9 12 0
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,000 feet
Elevation Gain 1,600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13
Interest Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
10  2013-08-01
The Window via Ventana
15  2007-07-28
Maiden Pools, Ventana Canyon
5  2007-05-07 Unregistered
4  2007-01-13 JimmyLyding
Author Lizard
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 0
Photos 403
Trips 17 map ( 75 miles )
Age 41 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:39am - 7:20pm
1 Alternative

lonely canyon
by Lizard

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Ventana Canyon is one of the most visited places in the Catalinas next to Sabino Canyon. On a weekend during the cool seasons, you will run into dozens of groups here. And its easy to figure out why its so popular; the canyon closes up just a short distance from the trailhead, and you get a great feeling of wilderness, just a few minutes drive from the city. For those who are a more adventurous and would like to skip the crowds, its possible to venture off the trail and do a bit of canyoneering in this wild and scenic place.

From the trailhead, you'll start out following the Ventana Canyon trail. The first mile of this trail is routed through private property, and is fairly unscenic, bounded on both sides by barbed wire and dozens of no trespassing signs. After an easy mile of hiking, you pass through a gate and into the Pusch Ridge wilderness.

From the wilderness boundary, the trail sticks to the floor of Ventana Canyon, hacking through heavy vegetation and crossing the streambed multiple times. If there is a decent flow of water here, the falls upstream should be spectacular. If the flow is very heavy, the canyon may actually be impassable. In this case, it would be preferable to stick to the trail, and access Ventana Falls by downclimbing from Maiden Pools.

About 1.75 miles from the trailhead, the Ventana Canyon trail departs from Ventana Canyon up a side canyon to the west. Stick to the bed of Ventana Canyon, as the fun stuff is about to begin. As you head up Ventana Canyon, you will have to scramble over some large boulders choking the streambed. Your reward for your effort is a long stretch of granite slickrock, interspersed with occasional waterfalls. You must scramble around these waterfalls- this is the section that may be impassable if the water flow is heavy.

Shortly after Ventana Canyon curves around to the west, you'll come to a very short section of narrows. These can be bypassed on the south, but part of the fun is splashing around in them. Just beyond that, you'll reach the base of Ventana Falls. Cowgill and Glendening (the authors of the Tucson hiker's bible, "Guide to the Santa Catalina Mountains") claim that Ventana Falls is the prettiest waterfall in the Catalinas. I would argue that Seven Falls and Seven Cataracts are both nicer, but all the same, its a very pretty area. The enjoyment is heightened by the knowledge that just over the rise is Maiden Pools. While dozens visit the pools each day, almost no one ventures below them, and you are likely to have this beautiful area all to yourself.

Getting past Ventana Falls is the final obstacle of the trip. Pancho Doll claims that a rappel is necessary to access the base of the falls, but I disagree. If you look around the north side of the falls area, you will find a slope that is fairly easily scrambled up. A couple of easy fifth-class climbing moves are necessary. At the top of the falls, take a few minutes to check out Maiden Pools.

Once you're ready to move on, look around for the Ventana Canyon trail (its not hard to find). Take this trail south. It wanders over a large ridge with spectacular views back down over the terrain you came up. The trail eventually empties into a side canyon, and a couple of minutes of walking brings you to the junction of this side canyon with Ventana Canyon. From here, retrace your steps along the trail to the trailhead.

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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.

2005-04-11 Lizard
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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.

Permit $$

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 Ventana Trailhead
1) From I-10 head east on W Ina Rd for 6.9 mi
2) Continue onto E Skyline Dr for 1.9 mi
3) Continue onto E Sunrise Dr for 3.2 mi
4) Turn left onto N Craycroft Rd and follow 2.5 mi
5) Turn left onto N Resort Dr and follow 0.1 mi
6) Ventana Trailhead Parking is on your left. It is a large slender lot. Trail takes off from the end.

If you continue to far on N Resort Dr you will quickly enter the resort on Flying V Rd, turn around.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 117 mi, 1 hour 57 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 15.4 mi, 29 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 260 mi, 4 hours 6 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool
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