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Hidden Pasture and North Star Peak 6041, AZ
mini location map2022-05-07
22 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Hidden Pasture and North Star Peak 6041, AZ 
Hidden Pasture and North Star Peak 6041, AZ
Hiking9.73 Miles 2,580 AEG
Hiking9.73 Miles   7 Hrs   56 Mns   1.43 mph
2,580 ft AEG   1 Hour   7 Mns Break
1st trip
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With the first triple digits of the year around Phoenix this weekend, we headed south for some higher elevations near Tucson. The drive felt especially long...I guess I got spoiled by a lot of local hiking over the winter and am used to drive times of an hour or less. But this was my first time hiking in the Rincons/Little Rincons, and it's a beautiful area. The boulders and the geology in the area were reminiscent of the landscape around Ballantine Cabin, where we hiked last weekend--the landscape had all kinds of little windows, balancing rocks, and unique formations.

Early on, the route parallels a rugged canyon down below that looks like an interesting place to explore. Around a mile in, I heard a distinctive rattle just to my right and knew right away what it was...I jumped to the left and looked down at a coiled, very agitated rattlesnake. I don't know how close I was to stepping on it, but I was lucky it didn't strike. I'm not sure what variety it was (feel free to identify [ photo ] ), but it was dark gray/black.

The middle section of the route is full of criss-crossing trails, with multiple cairned routes. It's very easy to get off the intended track but is usually just as easy to get back on, as the tangle of trails generally moves in the same direction and follows the creek bed. There was very little water in the pools along that stretch, but the smooth rock formations with the dark and rust-colored staining were interesting.

A little over three miles in, TboneKathy waited near the trail while I took a detour up to North Star Peak. I took a relatively direct approach up the north side of a drainage, and it was a consistently steep but reasonable climb, under a mile to the top and ~1,000 feet of elevation gain. The brush wasn't too bad--not much catclaw or too many thorns--and the footing was pretty solid most of the way. I did have to navigate around some steeper sections of rock to find an easy path up to the ridge north of the peak, but it was easy from there.

[ youtube video ]

Great views from the top, though I'm not familiar with many of the peaks in that area. I signed the register but didn't recognize any familiar HAZ names...the main notebook was placed in 1996 by members of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra seems like Gordon MacLeod and Barbara Lilley have placed a lot of summit registers around Arizona. After a quick descent back to the trail, I rejoined TBoneKathy, and we continued north to Hidden Pasture. That was our main destination today, but we found it to be among the least scenic/interesting areas on the route, with a lot of dry grass and less interesting geology. We hiked a clockwise loop, but there was no trail or cairns in that area, and it involved dodging a lot of catclaw and pushing through brush-choked washes.

On the hike back out, I had a second run-in with a snake. This time, I was standing on the trail for a few seconds before looking down and noticing a snake stretched across the trail, not more than a foot or two away. This one was a lot calmer--no coiling or rattling, and it eventually slithered away slowly. The pattern looked like a rattlesnake, but there was no rattle on the tail...again, feel free to identify [ photo ] .

Taking a slightly different path through the tangle of trails on the hike out, we passed by some deeper pools in the wash that actually had quite a bit of water that we navigated up and around. We didn't see anyone all day, and it was a nice intro to the Little Rincons, with some beautiful landscape, a peak, and a fair amount of luck with two close calls with snakes.
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