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Sonoita Hangmans Loop, AZ
mini location map2017-12-03
20 by photographer avatarchumley
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Sonoita Hangmans Loop, AZ 
Sonoita Hangmans Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 03 2017
Hiking7.68 Miles 522 AEG
Hiking7.68 Miles   3 Hrs   28 Mns   2.35 mph
522 ft AEG      12 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
After spending the previous day exploring the western side of the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, I opted for the east side today. I'd spotted Hangmans Canyon on the map and decided I wanted to check that out too.

Unfortunately, I realized that there was no way I was going to find time and energy to check out Ash Canyon, Coal Mine Canyon, Coal Mine Spring, George Wise Spring, and an enormous reservoir just a mile and a half northwest of Patagonia Lake -- all of which looked fairly interesting in satellite photos.

So I set out from the east end of the State Park with my free SNA permit in hand. The park map online calls this the Sonoita Creek Trail, but that's on the west side of the park. Signage here calls it the "Patagonia Lake Birding and Hiking Trail". I was amused to see people sitting on a bench 100 yards from the trailhead with a camera lens so large that needed it's own support leg ... zoomed in on the incredibly natural hummingbird feeder about 50 feet away. People make fun of me for enjoying walking so to each their own I guess! :lol:

The trail drops down to the floodplain and zigs around the east end of the lake before coming to the banks of Sonoita Creek. I was surprised to find a bridge that crossed to the north since it isn't part of the trail system to go this way, and the bridge couldn't possibly survive even the smallest rise in creek flow. Nonetheless I was happy to keep my feet dry as I headed up the hillside and back into the desert.

I headed back toward the lake on an old abandoned road that leads to the point where Hangmans Canyon enters the lake, directly across from the park's day use area. This is a scenic area with very cool geology.

This was a good day for wildlife encounters. The previous day I had close visits by two great horned owls in flight and one red-tailed hawk, in addition to two javelina. Today I encountered a jackrabbit that was so large I actually for a moment thought it was a deer. For reference, it was larger than FOTGs Cupcake ... but not quite Blanco sized!

Interestingly, not 5 minutes later, I actually saw two white-tails, followed a bit later by 3-4 more, and two others near the end of the hike. I also spooked a herd of javelina about halfway up Hangmans. These were a noisy bunch as they scampered up the hill and I realized it was the babies that were making all the racket. They were no bigger than a football, but I'm not sure how young that makes them. Sorry no photos. :(

There was ample cat scat and I was nearly certain I'd run into one -- given the abundance of prey in the area, but I was happy to be seen rather than to see on this day!

Hangmans wasn't quite as exciting as I had hoped, though there are segments of very interesting geology. The hiking was a bit tedious as much of it is sandy but there are some better cattle trails on the grassy shelves to the sides of the main drainage. It would be something to see these canyons with water in them.

I hit an old road and headed east toward a drainage with a windmill and tank that took me back down to Sonoita Creek. I considered heading upstream to explore a ways, but despite the pleasant hiking and nice trail along the creek I opted instead to get back to the trailhead and begin the trip back to the valley but not before a little tourism at the lake.

Over the two days I saw 4-5 areas with signs of migrant trash or toilet areas, but none seemed recent and I'd think that the proximity to the state park might limit that kind of traffic here.

This was a good second day follow-up to exploring the area.
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dry Hangmans Canyon Dry Dry
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