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Heliograph Peak from Arcadia CG
9 Photosets

mini location map2021-06-26
14 by photographer avatarJim_H
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Heliograph Peak from Arcadia CGTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking10.00 Miles 3,489 AEG
Hiking10.00 Miles   6 Hrs   30 Mns   1.74 mph
3,489 ft AEG      45 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Most hikers will probably want to avoid the Arcadia Trail. I agree with, "MAP", the last 3/4 to 1 mile of trail before the junction with the Shannon Trail is really over grown. It's approaching impassable, and already is for a lot of people. It's heavy with NM Locust and wild rose, both of which have thorns, and also aspen and a current with flowers which create a tangle of stems leaning over the trail at chest and head height. At times it was more like a wall of vegetation than a trail. Bring Danny Trejo, who is Machete, and you might have an easier time. Still, with really cut legs and torn shorts, I got through.

It was nice to be back in the Pinalenos, since I have only ever hiked here one time. This was in 2015, just over 6 years ago, and right before I moved to Phoenix. I had driven up as far as Soldier Creek CG in 2005, but that was it. I planned to return 4 years ago, but the Frye Fire forced me to cancel and I went to Utah, where I had a great time.

I read about the wash out in one of the logs from the 2018 group that did this, and decided to wait for that to be dealt with. It never was, and the solution is a half-assed one: a rope to make the climb down and up the washed out slope manageable. It can't be an Official FS solution the way they close trails for "danger" post fire, so I think this is another ignored trail with little hope of maintenance anytime soon.

Once past the wash out, the trail is pretty good. It gradually gets more covered with ferns and locust as you move higher, before you make the traverse around what I think is upper Noon Creek and encounter the terrible over grown conditions. I don't know if the upper Noon Creek Trail even exists anymore. There is no evidence of it near Arcadia.

Because I came here to hike this, I did. I still enjoyed my outing, I just would have enjoyed it more if my shorts didn't get torn. Same with my skin. I won't do this trail again until it gets attention, or burns. Which ever comes first. I don't have a preference. In it's current state, I won't hike it again. At least now I know why there are basically no logs for this, when compared to the 2 Heliograph options from the Shannon TH. I probably should have taken up the friendly offer to be driven down to Arcadia CG from the Shannon TH, as a camper from the Arcadia CG was on the summit. He had hiked from Shannon CG TH after he had given up on the Arcadia around the wash out, but I felt I had to hike down. Oh, well.

The good news is that there is a lot of solitude on this, and plenty of enjoyable birds. I heard fewer hummingbirds than in 2015, but the columbines and penstemons are still abundant. Hermit thrush were common around Heliograph, and in the lower trail around the campground. You can't hear much of anything besides a roaring diesel engine for the microwave towers on the summit, however. Oh! Lots and lots of bear scat, all over the trail. If this isn't a bear highway, it's a bear toilet. Some was fresh, too.

Finally, I'll have to return a few more times to this range before the road closes. While I do want to hike some of the shorter trails on top, since there are basically no longer ones, or no longer ones that come from lower down and a paved road. I "discovered" the Angle Orchard just off the Swift Trail slightly above the 5000' level. It's not new, I just didn't notice the sign in 2015 or 2005, unless the signs are new. Lots of apples and summer peaches.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
Wilderness is a myth.
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