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Tortolita Mountains Inner Loop, AZ
mini location map2018-12-19
22 by photographer avatarmarkthurman53
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Tortolita Mountains Inner Loop, AZ 
Tortolita Mountains Inner Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 19 2018
Hiking15.45 Miles 3,375 AEG
Hiking15.45 Miles   8 Hrs   49 Mns   2.31 mph
3,375 ft AEG   2 Hrs   8 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
1st trip
I went back to the Tortolita Mountains to finish up some trails I didn’t get to do two days ago. This hike was along the lower Alamo Springs Trail then to the Wild Burro Trail to Alamo Springs. Returned on the Wild Mustang with a side trip down the Upper Javalina Trail, Finished up by doing the Lower Javelina and the Wild Burro Trail. You could get dizzy doing this route, luckily I wasn’t going that fast for that to happen.

The Alamo Springs Trail starts out with a climb to the ridge. Normally I would say this shouldn’t be difficult with the good trail conditions and only 1000 feet in 2 miles but my rear was dragging on this stretch. Don’t know what was wrong but it wasn’t until I ate later in the morning that I felt like I had the energy. I will just chalk it up as an off day. While I was struggling with the uphill climb I did stop often enough to snap some pictures. The views along this trail are amazing, especially in the morning (Taking pictures isn’t as easy as it was before because I was told I can’t carry my camera around my neck or I will continue to have neck issues.). The skies over Tucson and Santa Cruz valleys were a bit hazy, normally the polarizer on the camera will cut through this haze but this time the polarizer emphasized the haze so much so that it looked like fog. I’m assuming this was smoke or smog from an inversion layer. I left the Alamo Springs Trail and headed down the Alamo Spring Spur Trail to catch the Wild Burro Trail to Alamo Springs. I stopped briefly to check out the old line shack at the junction of these two trails. The Wild Burro Trail does some climbing here to get around the narrows of Wild Burro Canyon. Once above the narrows the trail follows the wash for a bit then climbs the east bank to Alamo Springs. Before heading up stream I checked out the overlook spur trail. Nice views down canyon from above the narrows. For you geology buffs there is some really nice gneiss rock here and the water has done a good job polishing it. There is also a good example of a glide fault in this canyon. (As the granite rock was rising the outer layers slide down the side.)

I took a short break at Alamo Springs and ate something trying to get my rear motivated. Chose a nice rock just to the east of the spring because it looked comfortable and it was comforting to know that the original inhabitants thought it was a good spot too because there were a couple of grinding holes where they also sat and prepared their food. There is a large dead cottonwood laying in the creek above the spring, probably where the spring got its name, Ironically I did not see any other cottonwoods with the exception of a very small plant near the spring that may be a cottonwood. At one time there may have been more water in this area.

The Wild Mustang trail starts out with a slow steady climb of about 500 feet in 1 mile and I seemed to handle this one just fine, maybe I just needed something to eat, I hear the body does better if you give it some fuel. This trail follows on the southeast slopes of the ridge that separates it from Cochie Canyon and is a fairly exposed trail, I can imagine it could get pretty hot. The temperatures were in the 60’s and when I took a break I was looking for a little shade. Great views of the Catalina Mountains. The views further out toward Tucson and Tucson Mountains were limited by the haze and only the tops of the peaks could be seen clearly. I ran into one hiker on this trail and he was doing sort of the same loop I was doing.

Before heading back to the trail head I took a short excursion down the Upper Javelina Trail. About 700 feet of elevation drop along this trail with great views of the golf course and Dove Canyon residential area if you are into that. I was thinking you could hit a golf ball from up here and what are the chances of getting a hole in one. I know it is probably all recycled water but it just doesn’t fit in to see all that green in a desert location. I headed back up the way I came and down to the Wild Burro Trail to finish up one last trail, the western portion of the Lower Javelina Trail. While hiking this trail it seemed kind of a useless trail since the Wild Burro Trail follows alongside it just 150 feet below. I guess if someone wants to do a short hike, the Lower Javelina is a good option. This 1.7 mile hike would give you a little bit of climbing and a little bit of downhill and still allow you to get to the Ritz Carlton for a beer when you are done or a few holes of golf. I took the Wild Burro back to the trail head but I stayed on the trail all the way back. This trail meanders from one side of the wash to the other. Some prefer to just walk up the wash; it makes it a bit shorter.

Don’t know why it took me so long to hike in these mountains but I’m glad I finally got here. Perfect time of year, early spring might be even better. I would still like to hike up the highest peak which I believe is Tortolita Peak at about 4600 feet. I don’t see any trails to it and would have to do a little research to find the best way to access it. Someday maybe the Ridgeline Trail will do just that.
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