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Lower Las Cienegas Creek, AZ
mini location map2020-03-26
23 by photographer avatarmarkthurman53
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Lower Las Cienegas Creek, AZ 
Lower Las Cienegas Creek, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 26 2020
Hiking7.45 Miles 305 AEG
Hiking7.45 Miles   2 Hrs   55 Mns   2.55 mph
305 ft AEG15 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I continued on another short section of Cienega Creek, this time along Las Cienegas National Conservation Area on the Empire Ranch. Since I haven't been traveling any distances lately I figured this is a good time to finish up Cienega Creek. When done I will have completed Tucson's Southeast waterway from Pantano Wash where I live in Vail up Cienega Creek and tributary Mescal Wash and eventually to Gardner Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains. This creek services 4 mountains, Santa Rita, Empire, Whetstones and Rincon Peak. Cienega Creek is one of southeast Arizona's largest Riparian areas with Aravaipa canyon being the other. Not sure which one is larger but I do no which one is less crowded.

This section of Cienega Creek is located on the Empire Ranch, now a National Conservation Area and is called Las Cienegas for the many marshes along the creek. Before heading out for this hike I looked up the history of the Empire Ranch and was mildly impressed. This is a ranch that was in existence sine 1860 as a 160 acre homestead and grew from there. I suggest looking on line for more details of the history but there is one site; Photos; Historic Empire ranch that I thought was fascinating. The Movie Red River with John Wayne was filmed there and he stayed at the house when it was being filmed.

This hike along with all the other sections along this creek are without trails, so it's find your best route. Sections of the creek are running pretty good and other sections are dry where the water flows underground. Along the Las Cienegas where it is running it is like a marsh or bog, pick your footing carefully. This was a good time of year to walk the creek because the growth along the creek is just starting after winter. Later in the year when the cattails get higher it may not be as easy. Monsoon season may add additional issues. There is a lot of history along this hike of prior ranching and mining.

I really liked this hike it was more than I expected. The Cottonwood trees were green with new growth but the mesquite trees are still holding out (maybe they know something the cottonwood trees don't). The day was overcast and toward the end of the hike a little spattering of rain, not enough to get anything wet. The only people I saw on this hike were near the main ranch site so I pretty much had the creek to myself. There is no fee to go into Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. I am looking forward the next hike which will be the down stream from this hike and is in an area called The Narrows. I also believe I found a road that will take me into the Whetstone Mountains and provide easier access to Apache Peak.

Water report: All side Canyons were dry but Cienega Creek was running with a medium flow. The section of Cienega Creek from fortynine Wash south to North Canyon were dry.
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