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Butterfly Loop, AZ
mini location map2018-06-14
25 by photographer avatarDixieFlyer
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Butterfly Loop, AZ 
Butterfly Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 14 2018
Hiking9.10 Miles 2,350 AEG
Hiking9.10 Miles   5 Hrs   4 Mns   2.42 mph
2,350 ft AEG   1 Hour   18 Mns Break
1st trip
I was looking for a hike to do in some cooler weather, so I decided to drive down to Tucson and hike on the Butterfly Trail. While the temperatures were cooler than the VOS, it was in the 80's for most of this hike.

This is a tale of 2 hikes:
1) The portion from the Butterfly TH to the towers at the top of Mount Bigelow: 6.1 miles and an elevation gain of 2,200'
2) The portion from the top of Mount Bigelow back to the Butterfly TH: 3.0 miles and 150' of elevation gain

The first portion follows the Butterfly Trail to where it meets up with the Bigelow Trail, about 1/4 mile from the Bigelow Summit. Along the way we made a detour at Novio Spring to see the plane crash. This was somewhat of a strenuous trail -- the trail was narrow and rocky in many places, and had some fairly steep uphill climbs. It was a warm morning and there was a fair amount of sun exposure, so it was not an easy hike.

The second portion initially followed the Bear Wallow/Bigelow Road(Road 34) down from the summit. After going about a mile or so, we took an unmarked trail down to the right. This was a nice trail to hike on -- there were lots of very large trees and no sun exposure at all. We came back down to the Bear Wallow Rd, and this trail crossed the road and continued alongside the road. This trail has a tunnel that goes underneath the road up to Mount Lemmon at mm 22 (at the intersection of Bear Wallow Rd and the road up to Mount Lemmon). We went underneath the tunnel and followed the trail back to the Sunset TH, where Sykes Knob Rd intersects with the General Hitchcock Hwy. From there it is about a 100' walk along the Highway back to the Butterfly TH. This portion of the hike was very easy(it was mostly downhill on some easy-to-hike trails), and was most welcome on a warm day after doing the first portion of this hike.

If I do this hike again, I would do it in the fall. To make it a more strenuous hike, you could hike from the Butterfly TH to Mount Bigelow and back. This would be a hike of right at 12 miles with an elevation gain of 3,600'-3,700'.

Many people seem to do this hike as a one-way hike with a car shuttle, but given how short and easy the second portion of this hike is, I would rather do this loop and not have to hassle with a car shuttle.

There were some nice views on the hike, particularly on the Butterfly Fly on the way to Bigelow, where you could see the mountains off to the east. Once you got near the Bigelow summit, there were some real nice views to the south.

I thought that this hike was OK, although it was nothing really great. If I lived in Tucson I would hike it again...but for me it is a 7.5 hour RT drive to do the hike, which is a bit much for this hike. There are a number of other Tucson area hikes that I like better and that are easier to get to, so I doubt if I will do this one again.
New Mexico Locust
I'd rather die of exhaustion than die of starvation.
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