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16 by photographer avatarDarthStiller
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Sabino - Bear LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 19 2017
Hiking17.80 Miles 2,818 AEG
Hiking17.80 Miles   8 Hrs   54 Mns   2.11 mph
2,818 ft AEG      28 Mns Break
1st trip
I took advantage of the 3 day holiday weekend to do this hike since it's a long drive for me as well as a very long hike. The official mileage is 17.2 but it's closer to 17.8 or even 18. The water is still flowing throughout all the major canyons in this area. Every once in a while the trail would cut across a drainage running down the sides of the canyons and it seemed odd that they weren't even flowing with all the water below. Waves of light rain came in and out throughout the day, so water was abundant in all ways.

We did the loop counter clockwise and headed up Bear Canyon first. A little bit before 7 Falls we got off trail and had to bushwhack up the side of the hill to the trail. Looking back at the topo and other tracks, it looks like we may have shaved off 0.1 miles doing that, but it didn't make it any easier. We made it across all the stream crossings without incident. My feet did get wet, but that's because my boots are no longer waterproof.

7 Falls was running full force. We decided to forego hiking down to see the bottom pools up close. We had just gained a lot of elevation, and had quite a lot more ahead of us, so adding more was not of interest. the views from above were really nice, anyway. As we headed further up Bear Canyon Trail, we could see another trail that connected it to 7 Falls below. It's a little fainter, but it's still there and connects both trails. Along this area we first encountered quite a lot of higher grass along the trail, likely there due to the lesser use this section of the trail gets past 7 Falls. The grass was wet from the all the rain that day and before, so below my knees were soaked, all the way to my feet. After all the work we did to try to keep our feet dry, it was of absolutely no use once we got to this area.

As we neared the high point of the hike, I was looking forward to it so we could finally start hiking downhill and give my legs a break. I could feel myself getting sore during the ascent, which doesn't usually happen for me. I guess all the local hiking in the county and city parks without a lot of climbing has taken a bit of a toll in terms of conditioning. In addition, I forgot my hiking stick for this hike. Fortunately, not long after 7 Falls, I found a dead agave right next to the trail and used the saw on my handy dandy Swiss Army Knife to cut the ends and make a very stable hiking stick.

A little after passing the high point of the hike, we stopped and took lunch. Since we were still high up, the temperature was pretty cool. The cooler temps bothered Joe more than they bothered me, but that seems mainly due to the difference in body types. Just as we finished, a wave of rain came in that was the strongest one of the day. Fortunately it didn't last long and as we descended, the temps got warmer. The grasslands up in this area are nice. Looking higher on some of the surrounding mountains we could see snow, a lot more near the junction of Sabino Canyon and East Fork Trails. Clouds were covering the tops of almost all the mountains, so at times it was little hard to make out.

After we passed the junction for the trail to the tram in Sabino Canyon, more and more hikers were encountered. One even mentioned my hiking stick, asking if I bought it at the visitor center . Towards the end of the hike the sun came out more, making the temperatures even warmer, and better opportunity for pictures.

Finished in just under 9 hours, including the lunch break, which I had hoped for in terms of timing. My speed on this was a little better than usual for lesser used trails. The cooler weather definitely helped me for this. It seemed like less work doing a longer hike like this keeping cooler and not needing as much water.
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