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Old Baldy - Super Trail Loop
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mini location map2021-06-26
20 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Old Baldy - Super Trail LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 26 2021
Hiking13.79 Miles 4,092 AEG
Hiking13.79 Miles   8 Hrs   12 Mns   2.27 mph
4,092 ft AEG   2 Hrs   8 Mns Break
1st trip
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Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
With all the wildfires and national forest closures in the northern part of the state right now, we opted for a higher-elevation hike in Tucson and picked Mt. Wrightson. The drive down on I-19 provided my first U.S. encounter with metric-based interstate signage and kilometer markers. As we got closer to the trailhead at Madera Canyon, two wild turkeys crossed the road...always nice to see some wildlife before even starting the hike.

We chose the shorter/steeper route up Old Baldy Trail, and it was a steady but comfortable incline the whole way and a very pleasant hike, with nice temperatures and plenty of birds. We saw the Boy Scout memorial signs at Josephine Saddle, where three scouts died in a sudden blizzard in 1958. We stayed on Old Baldy from there, and the stretch of trail approaching Bellows Spring was especially scenic, with lots of green and rockier terrain up along the ridgeline. The spring was completely dry, and we started to encounter more traffic on the trail in both directions after that.

Looking up toward the summit from Baldy Saddle, it certainly looked like it would be a rough 0.9 mile to the top, but the trail was efficiently designed and navigated the steepest areas with very manageable switchbacks. The stretch between Baldy Saddle and the summit had views of fire damaged areas but also a lot of nice wildflowers. This being such a popular trail, we knew we wouldn't have the summit to ourselves, and there were three other people at the top, with more trickling in while we were up there...and ladybugs everywhere. The summit register provided more evidence of just how much traffic the trail gets--the notebook was almost full, and the earliest pages were only from this past January...not one of those peaks where you can quickly scan through everyone who's visited in the past decade :).

We enjoyed the views at the top, avoided the other people as best we could, signed the register, and then started down. We decided to take the longer Super Trail route back and make it a figure-eight so we could see some new terrain, so we turned just before reaching Baldy Saddle. It was easy to keep a good pace on Super Trail, with a slight downhill slope most of the way, and we didn't see any other hikers the rest of the day. Baldy Spring and Upper Gardner Canyon were both completely dry, but we passed Josephine Saddle again and took a short break at Sprung Spring, which had a full basin of clear water and a steady drip from the pipe.

Overall, it was a really enjoyable hike--a nice workout with the steady climb up Old Baldy, and the figure-eight meant we didn't have to repeat any sections of the trail, which was nice. I haven't done as much hiking around Tucson as I'd like to, and hopefully that area is spared from most of the wildfires this year--it's a great option right now with the closures up north.

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