for free!
show related photosets
Cunningham Loop Trail #316
16 Photosets

mini location map2014-06-05
15 by photographer avatarwha
photographer avatar
Cunningham Loop Trail #316Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack23.37 Miles 4,833 AEG
Backpack23.37 Miles4 Days         
4,833 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked   linked  
Partners none no partners
With record highs in the forecast I decided it would be a good time to go up high for a few days. It's been years since I was in the Pinalenos, so time to get reacquainted. Many of the trails are up and down and I was looking for some easier hiking. The Cunningham and Grant Hill trails looked ideal.

Day 1 - Arrived at the Grant Hill TH mid afternoon. Previous triplogs had people hiking up Cunningham Spur and then bushwhacking down to the lower trail. A map at the TH showed both upper and lower trails were complete, so I crossed Swift Trail and headed out on the upper trail (Cunningham Spur). The TH map is wrong. Where people went cross country is where the road ends. There was sort of a trail for a ways after that but I eventually lost it, and so I too headed down to join the lower trail. With the late start, I just went another mile and then found a spot to camp.

Day 2 - Cunningham Loop isn't that long, so to stretch the trip to 4 days I planned to explore some of the old roads shown on topo maps. I took a "trail" down to Moonshine Creek, got some water, and spent a couple hours hiking the long abandoned roads above here. One way gets you very close to the squirrel refuge boundary. The other countours around to Post Creek. The roads were badly overgrown in places, and booby-trapped by ground squirrels in others. Not easy hiking.

Returned to the Cunningham and explored a few more side roads reaching the high point of the trip, 9600+ feet. Finished the upper loop, took the connecting trail down to the lower, and finished that. Followed a side road near the end to find a campsite for the night.

Day 3 - A short hike and I was back at the Grant Hill TH. Met a FS employee who was checking the Grant Hill trails with a couple YCC kids. I asked about water and he said it was dry. He asked about condition of the Cunningham trails and mentioned that plans for a connector between Cunningham and Hospital Flat were in the final stages.

I wish there were more connectors or longer trails or ways to do loops for multi-day hikes. I also met a large group of backpackers at the TH, scouts maybe. They were out for a multi-day trip and had come from Snow Flat over to Grant Hill yesterday and would go through Cunningham today. They had started at Turkey Flat a couple days ago and I had passed them on the road when I drove up. After Cunningham they had more road walk over towards the Columbine area. How much nicer that would be without all the road walking.

I did a loop out the 322D trail first to see if I could find any water down that drainage. There were some stinking slimy puddles a few hundred feet down off the trail but I decided to cheat and fill up from jugs in my car. I then did a big loop, stopping at both viewpoints looking out over Sulphur Springs Valley. Amazing view. Took the obligatory panorama shots. Returned to my car for more water then hiked back out to the intersection of 322A and 322B where there was a nice open area with flat spots to camp.

It was early so I sat up against a tree and read for a while. I heard a noise from the road and looked up. My first thought was "That's a huge dog.", wondering where the owner was. That lasted a second and I realized it was a bear. Not even 50 feet away. In surprise I exclaimed softly, "Geez". That was enough though. The bear heard me and took off, crashing up the hill.

Day 4 - In the morning did another loop around Grant Hill, covering the sections not done yesterday. Took a sidetrip up to the top of Grant Hill and found the cairn and register. Two actually. An older one with a spiral notebook crammed inside was damp and smelled moldy. I didn't try to remove it figuring it might rip apart. The new one was a couple slips of paper in a jar, with just one entry from last November when it was placed by two SAHC members. Took a long break at the viewpoint enjoying the view, then returned to my car and headed home.

end of page marker