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Tortolita Mountains Super Loop, AZ
mini location map2018-12-17
25 by photographer avatarmarkthurman53
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Tortolita Mountains Super Loop, AZ 
Tortolita Mountains Super Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 17 2018
Hiking18.88 Miles 3,366 AEG
Hiking18.88 Miles   9 Hrs   33 Mns   2.46 mph
3,366 ft AEG   1 Hour   53 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
1st trip
I have lived in Tucson 60 years and have never been to the Tortolita Mountains. I decided it was time to fix that. The Tortolita Mountains are the northern most of the three metamorphic core complexes in the Tucson area. These Mountains were formed as the west coast was spreading and granitic plutons floated up against the existing Granitic and sedimentary rocks. At the same time the valleys were sinking. (Tucson sain sank 17000 feet in some places). Like describing a chocolate candy they have a Granite core with a layer of Gneiss and a top layer of metamorphosed sedimentary rock. As the pluton rose it created the Gneiss and metamorphosed the sedimentary rock above that. On the taller mountains the granite sticks out on top and the Gneiss and sedimentary rocks slid down the sides of the pluton. Enough of the Geology lecture and on with the hike.

For the first hike in these mountains I decided to do the Tortolita Super Loop as described in HAZ. This hike not only touches a potion of all the trails in the Tortolitas it also has a good section of off trail route finding. These trails are some of the best maintained trails I have seen in a remote area, they have done a nice job. These mountains are a low lying desert mountain with an elevation from 3000 to 4500 feet. But with this hike you will still get an AEG of 3700 feet.(HAZ Route shows only 3366, Don't know where the other 350 went)

I started at the Wild Burro trail head where almost any hike you do in these mountains start. There are multiple options in this section for doing this loop but the one I chose was the Wild Burro to the Alamo Spring then the Lower Javelina to the Alamo Spring Spur back to the Alamo Spring Trail. After this the route is determined by the trails available, Ridgeline Wild Burro and then the Cochie Trail. There are great views along the Ridgeline Trail of the Catalinas to the southeast and the Tucson and Quinlin Mountains to the Southwest and Picacho and Newman Peak to the northwest. The Ridgeline Trail heads east along the ridge that separates Wild Burro Canyon and Rueles Canyon. At any point along this ridge short side trips can be taken up to ridge to look down into Rueles Canyon (most of which is private property). The Ridgeline Trail ends where the ridge takes on a northern direction toward Wild Burro Canyon. From here to Wild Burro Canyon you are on the Wild Burro Loop Trail, Odd name for this trail. I think it should be called the Wild Burro Ridgeline Connector or just make it a continuation of the Ridgeline Trail. Oh well what’s in a name.

I took a lunch break at the Windmill and tank at where the Wild Burro Loop Trail ends and the Wild Burro Canyon Trail begins. The wind mill is now solar powered and the water tank was full of water and wasps. There is also an old cement dam that is doing a great job of holding back sand, also a stone corral just east of that (I believe this is Goat Corral). The Wild Burro trail to the Wild Mustang Trail is in great condition and goes pretty fast. Took the Wild Mustang trail for a couple hundred yards where it crosses a creek and the cross country portion of the hike begins.

There is no trail along the cross country portion, Cochie Wild Burro Connector. I followed the route I downloaded to my GPS and it was easier than I thought. Ran into a couple of people maintaining the upper Wild Burro Trail and they told me to watch for rock cairns and a slight trail, if you don’t see either you are off trail. They were right you could see a slight trail there (better than some of the other so called designated trails I have seen). The “trail” is faint but it is visible and it doesn’t take good drugs to visualize it. When the trail disappeared you look for the rock cairns. The two times I got off trail I knew it because I didn’t see the “trail” or rock Cairns. Once you hit the high point on the ridge overlooking Cochie Canyon there is a quarter mile section down to the saddle below that is an exception, you are on your own to find a good route. Be prepared to get poked, stuck and pricked by every stickery thing in the desert. Shed a lot of blood on this stretch. Once down to the small saddle the route is along a ridge all the Way to Cochie Creek and Cochie Spring. Once again the faint trail can be seen. Cochie Spring was dry although I did not look in the cement water tank to see if there was water in it. The Aermotor wind mill still turns when the wind is blowing but makes a terrible squeaking noise like it is in need of oil. I took a break here to the sound of birds and the squeaky windmill.

It was now 3:00 and I still had 5 miles to go. I should have no issue getting back by 5:00 and sunset. Fairly easy going along the Cochie, Wild Mustang and Upper Javelina Trail back to the trail head. The Cochie Trail gets a little old as it travels up then down ravines coming off of the ridge between Cochie and Wild Mustang Canyon. Then again it might not be all that bad it could just be that I was tired and ready to be done. Either way this was a great hike and I will be back this week to finish up the trails I didn’t get to do today.

dry Cochie Canyon Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Wild Burro Tank Dripping Dripping
Water tank was full, assume windmill was pumping water to it.
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