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Cottonwood Mountain Trail #66 - Santa Teresas
10 Photosets

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mini location map2018-12-09
13 by photographer avatarchumley
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Cottonwood Mountain Trail #66 - Santa TeresasTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 09 2018
chumley
Hiking9.50 Miles 2,297 AEG
Hiking9.50 Miles
2,297 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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I have eyed this trail on maps and always looked at the ridgeline when driving by on the Klondyke road. Finally I decided to take the opportunity of being in the area to check this one out.

The road was fine. It's 4wd for sure, but just because of steep and loose gravel. Once you get to the FS boundary it deteriorates quickly but most park here anyway. I drove a short distance before giving up on it and was glad I did. There's no reason to go all the way to the official end. (Sand Tank has been blown out by a flood. It's gone.)

There was a light flow of water in the creek which was nice. I wore my pfancy dirty girl gaiters which were helpful because the trail was overgrown with grass. It has been maintained since the HAZ description was written. It's easy to follow and in general an absolute pleasure reminiscent of Coyote Peak near Babo, only it's actually been cleared in the last 5 years! There were a couple of spots with some light catsclaw, but following the route was not at all challenging. Despite carrying them, I never considered zipping my pant legs on.

The trail construction is exquisite and a really enjoyable to make this steady but steep climb up into the heart of the Teresas. At the crest I headed north to 7396 before going back to find the Cottonwood BM. The saddle area is remarkably flat with nice grassy meadows, a few ponderosa, and plenty of great views and places to camp. I even saw 5 deer up here! There was also some remnant snow on the north slopes.

The route over to Cottonwood was faint, but in general found where you would expect it to be. I would like to camp up here sometime and spend a day exploring over to Pinnacle Ridge and search for any remnant of the Gardner Canyon Trail.

The register hadn't seen a name in over a year, but there were a bunch of visitors in 2012. It seems to be a regular peak for the SAHC. Otherwise entries went back to 1992. Apparently some people think this is a range or wilderness highpoint (register and haz description mention it) but I'm not really sure how that math works out (the top of Pinnacle Ridge just 2 miles west is almost 100 feet higher). In any case, it's an absolutely great peak, far exceeding my expectations and better than most other sky island peaks I've been on without question.

Season note: This trail is 100% south facing and exposed. I wouldn't want to hike it on any day where it's over 80 in Phx. Winter is nice if there's not too much snow up top, late fall or early spring work too.
Flora
Flora
Cranesbill
Culture
Culture
Benchmark
Named place
Named place
Pinnacle Ridge
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33s over 45s
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