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Oversite Canyon - Ida Canyon Loop, AZ
mini location map2014-09-23
6 by photographer avatarBenTelly
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Oversite Canyon - Ida Canyon Loop, AZ 
Oversite Canyon - Ida Canyon Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 23 2014
Hiking7.80 Miles 2,048 AEG
Hiking7.80 Miles
2,048 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I feel particularly lucky to be able to experience the Huachucas during the monsoon. Water everywhere - in every drainage, spring, gully - t'was amazing. Due to these conditions I couldn't drive to the "Cave Canyon"/Ida-Oversite trailhead. The washes were too deep, even for the old pickup. I parked about a mile from the "official" trailhead and walked the road to the wilderness boundary - hence the 7.8 mile loop rather than the +/- 7 miles listed elsewhere. The riparian corridor in Oversite is beautiful, lined with sycamores and large oaks. Excellent bird habitat. The prospector's cabin (I've seen this listed as Happy Jack Cabin) is still standing, but probably not for too much longer. Behind the cabin are two trails, both leading to caves (one called Happy Jack Cave) that have evidence of mining activity.

Part of the fun of the Oversite trail is route finding, but it's route finding in a fairly narrow canyon so it's never too difficult to get off track. Plus, every so often there are massive cairns that are impossible to miss. The switchbacks near the head of the canyon are - as the description states - difficult to navigate and hastily built. I chose to come UP Oversite and DOWN Ida for this reason. Easier to navigate on the ascent, and safer given the trail conditions.

The trail levels out and the hike to the junction of the Crest Trail and then Bear Saddle is great. Nice views and tall pines along this traverse that takes you out of Oversite and above Ida. I paused for a spell at Bear Saddle and enjoyed the cool breezes and views down into Ramsey to the east, Bear and Ida to the west and southwest. The slope down to Bear Spring is an old burn area and oaks are growing back, but not many conifer seedings. There are a number of downed trees along this descent to the spring and the going is a little slow. At Bear Spring the trail junction of Ida Canyon and Bear Canyon looked completely washed out. The spring was roaring, creating cascades through the mixed conifer forest. It's a beautiful area, but like many west range springs and canyons the area was strewn with trash. I filled a small bag with empty water bottles, making a note to bring a larger trash bag next time.

The trek down to Ida Canyon was pleasant, traversing up the east slope of Bear Canyon and along the divide between Bear and Ida. I love this mixed conifer forest with the occasional giant huachuca agave patch. The switchbacks are well built and easy to follow, at least compared to the set at the head of Oversite. A series of cascades highlighted the final stretch of trail down Ida Canyon to the trailhead.

What do I love about the Huachucas? One reason (of many) is that I seldom see anyone else on the trail. And when I do, it's usually some stand-up, good citizen out enjoying the same world I love. The Oversite - Ida loop seems seldom visited and I wasn't surprised when I didn't see anyone all day. But this has happened to me numerous times in the past month or so. It's like I'm the only biped out there. I know I'm not, especially when I check other triplogs, but the landscape - and especially the Miller Peak Wilderness Area - provides that most wonderful characteristic that is solitude.
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