The second day of our Palo Duro Canyon trip we took a 13.5 mile hike along the Comanche and Rylander Fortress Cliff Trails. We returned via the Rock Garden Trail, Rojo Grande and Paseo Del Rio Trails to the start point.
We started this hike on the Soapberry Spur Trail which is a short .3 mile trail that connects up to the Upper Comanche Trail from the Soapberry day use area. The Comanche trail follows along and below the Rylander Fortress Cliffs. Interesting trail with plenty of interesting rock formations. When I was on the Rylander cliff trail last year walking along the edge we ventured out to the edge crossing over foot wide fissures in the rock going quite a ways down. If I had done the hike we did today first and looked at what was holding those cliffs up I may not of been so willing to go out on the edge. On the other hand I probably would have thought that the rocks have been hanging on for a long time why would they break away now, but on the other hand (I think that's 3 hands) is my 175 pound weight all it needs to break away. Any way this is a very fascinating trail.
Once we connected up to the Rock Garden Trail we headed up to the rim. Once on the rim we headed south along the Rylander Fortress Cliff Trail to its terminus where there were great views overlooking the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River as it heads southeast exiting the park. On the return trip we took a short side trip off the Rylander Trail to Duck pond on the Tub Spring Trail. Nothing too interesting about this trail, Duck Pond was dry and not exactly sure where Tub Spring is. We returned via the Rock Garden Trail.
Once down to the flats again along the river we took the Sunflower, Rojo Grande and Paseo Del Rio Trail back to the start point. The trails along the river are easy walking and tend to meander a bit. These trails appear to be popular with mountain bikers. Overall a very good hike with great weather, we did not get rained on at all and the temperatures remained in the 50s. The river had the most water in it that I have ever seen on my previous visits here but still really looks like a stream or creek rather than a river.
We Headed back up to Palo Duro State Park for a couple days to hike a few trails that we have not been on before. The Comanche Trail runs above and on the East side of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and spans most of the park. The Comanche Trail is broken into two trails, the Upper and lower. This hike is along the northern part of the Upper trail (We had done the southern part on another trip) and returned via the Kiowa Trail.
Like all the trails in this park they are in excellent condition and easy to follow, the trail is well signed with tenth mile marker posts. There is not a lot of elevation gain along this trail most of it is from going up and down through side creeks. While the trail is fairly easy the scenery will keep you occupied, the rock cliffs on the east side and the river bed below on the west. This trail follows along Permian Era Layers with its colorful shales and mudstone and Triassic Rock cliffs above. If you are trying to do this trail and maintain a fast pace forget it, I stopping every few minutes to ponder at yet another strange rock formation or wonder how that massive rock is being supported by a pedestal of soft looking shale. About 2 miles in along the Comanche Trail we headed back down to the river bed and followed the Kiowa Trail back to the start point.
The weather report called for rain and thunderstorms but by early morning neither happened. It was cloudy and the temperature was in the upper 40’s all day, perfect for hiking. Occasionally a breeze would kick up and remind you that it was a bit cold. There were very few people on the trail, only saw two other hikers just as we exited the Comanche Trail and started on the Kiowa Trail. We finished around 10:00 in the morning and got ready for our next hike which was about .2 miles down the road.
On our second hike of the first day at Palo Duro we hiked the CCC Trail. This Trail starts along the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and hikes up through the colorful Permian layers and then the Triassic layers to almost the rim of the canyon. The upper end of the trail is at the Park visitor center. We also took the short Goodnight Peak loop and Triassic trails that cross over the CCC Trail. Most of the trails in the park have very little elevation gain but this trail and the Rock Garden trail climb to the rim of the canyon and provide a rather healthy elevation change (at least for this part of Texas).
The CCC Trail starts off steep for the first .6 miles as you climb up to the Goodnight Peak Loop Trail. The climb up to the ridge offers great views of the river and campgrounds below. Once on the Goodnight Peak ridge the trail levels off for a bit before the final ascent to the top. The climb from this point is rather gradual and not as steep as the first part. There is a view point on the top near the visitor center. Great views of all of Palo Duro park. This is the viewpoint visitors to the park stop at as they enter the park. On our return we headed back to the Goodnight Ridge where we took the Goodnight Peak Loop trail. To the north it heads to the Park road, .2 miles (also known as the Triassic Trail) and to the south it heads to the overlook. There are also good views of the park from Goodnight Peak
The weather was in the upper 40’s the whole day and as long as there wasn’t a breeze it was great hiking weather. This trail had a few more hikers on it than the hike we did earlier in the day but still not crowded.
On the third hike of the first day in Palo Duro we hiked the Lower Comanche Trail. This loop hike actually was the southern part of the Lower Comanche Trail. We started the hike on the very southern end of the park along the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. The trail heads up along the east side of the river up close but below the Triassic cliffs and among the Permian layers. As with other parts of the Comanche Trail that follows along the Permian layers there are hoodoos and rock formations that will amaze you. We took the Rock Garden Trail back down to the river and followed a trail along the east bank of the river back to our start point.
The Southern part of the Lower Comanche trail climbs gradually a couple hundred feet up to just below the eastern cliffs of the canyon. Since there is a Lot to see along this trail you hardly notice the 2.5 mile climb up. We hiked to the junction with the Rock Garden Trail and took that back down to the river bed. The rock Garden Trail seems to be a favorite of people visiting the park, with its massive rocks that fell from the cliffs above. Once down at the river bed I was going to take the Sunflower and Juniper Riverside Trail back to the start point but I couldn’t get across the creek. The river gorge is about 20 feet across but 10 to 15 feet deep. I could see the Sunflower Trail on the other side but the river but couldn't get across easily. Fortunately there was a trail on this side of the creek, not marked on the park map but tenth mile trail signs marked the way. I will be calling this the Creekside Trail, the trail was marked with a C. (most trails in the park are marked with the first letter of the trail and miles in tenths). The Creekside Trail ends at the Sunflower Trail to the north and the Comanche Trail to the south. I will have to come back at another time and complete the Sunflower and Juniper Riverside Trails at another time.
Great hike to finish of the first day of hiking. The weather remained in the upper 40’s providing good hiking weather all day. This hike had the most hikers we had seen all day with about a half dozen other hikers/groups along the trail. This is a great 5 mile loop trail to take that isn’t too difficult but gives you a sample of what all the other trails have.
The second day in Big Bend we did three trails, the first being the Chimneys Trail. This is a short 5 mile round trip hike that starts along the Ross Maxwell Road and heads to some rock outcrops along the flat desert floor. I had originally planned a longer 11 mile hike up the Blue Creek Trail but the weather didn’t look too promising with an 80% chance of rain so we opted for shorter hikes. The Chimneys Trail actually continues on past the Chimneys at 2.4 miles in and continues on to Maverick road at mile 7.
This is an easy flat walk along the creosote covered desert floor to the Chimneys. The Chimneys are an outcrop of rock that sticks out above the desert floor forming a ridge of oddly shaped rocks. On the southern end of this ridge is the Chimney (I guess they call the rest of the ridge Chimneys also but I didn’t think they looked like Chimneys). On East side of the Chimney is evidence of early inhabitants with rock art and grinding holes. I can see why they picked this place, nice views while preparing meals of Kit Mountain to the east and a sweeping view of the desert around them. We spent a good amount of time exploring the rock outcrops making a counterclockwise loop around them. There is a window on the southern edge of the ridge. This is supposedly a 4.8 mile round trip hike but we clocked 5.3 so we must of wondered around the rock formations for a half a mile.
We wore rain gear for most of the hike as there was a slight drizzle almost the whole way. The Chisos Mountains were in the clouds. Great hiking weather though. Saw one other person on the trail at the Chimneys and met another two hikers on our way out. I’m not sure I have any desire to do the last 4.8 miles of this trail to Maverick road because it looks like a long flat walk through creosote.
The Second hike of the day was along the Burro Mesa Pour-Off Trail. This is a trail that starts along the Ross Maxwell Road and travels along Javelina Creek to the top of the Burro Mesa Pour-Off. I was excited about doing this hike after hiking the lower portion yesterday. We were up on Burro Mesa closer to the Chisos Mountains so the drizzle was a little more consistent and harder than the previous hike to the Chimneys. This is a 4 mile round trip hike.
This hike is interesting the whole way. The trail drops into a side creek of Javelina Creek and passes through some rock narrows that peak your interest. Eventually you drop into Javelina creek for some sandy creek walking. Plenty to keep your interest peaked as you trudge through the coarse grained sand and gravel. Gradually the walls close in on you and the canyon gets narrow. The dark walls look like some other world and I found myself wondering what it must look like as the water rushes through these narrows heading for an eventual drop off. Normally you would not want to be in this canyon during a rain storm but this was a light drizzle and I wasn’t concerned about flash flooding. In the summer you would want to really know what the weather was doing up stream, toward the end of the trail there is no escape from a flashflood. We got to within 50 feet of the actual drop off and could go no further, the creek makes a sloping 50 foot drop and with the wet slick rocks I doubted whether I could get back out. My original thought was to get a closer view and see if I could get down but Ginny said this looks like one of those stories that starts with “Here hold my beer”. I could see foot prints in the sand below but I didn’t chance it. A rope or sticky boots would be nice or maybe if the rocks weren’t wet. From where we stood we could not actually see the drop off it was around a bend in the rocks. I will have to be satisfied with the photos I saw on line, Google Earth views and the view from below that I saw yesterday.
This is one of those trails that is a must see if you are in the park. Spring is a good time because I could see how in the summer this could be a scorcher with all the dark rock. If you want to see a flash flood come over this drop off summer is probably the best time but I would do it from the lower trail.
The last hike of day 2 was to Ward Spring. This was a short 3 mile round trip hike again off of the Ross Maxwell Road. This trail has a 500 foot elevation gain but is fairly easy walking with only one section of aggressive climbing that was about 100 yards long. The clouds were down on the Chisos Mountains just above our heads and the drizzle was pretty constant.
Ward Spring is pretty overgrown and we probably didn’t get right to the spring because of the thick overgrowth, didn’t feel like getting even wetter by pushing our way through the brush. The creek bed had water in it right near the spring but went underground immediately. There are some rock formations around the spring that are part of volcanic sills that cut through the rock. The sills are the reason for the spring. Would have been nice to explore a little more around these sills but it was getting late and the weather was a bit wet. My $5:00 rain poncho was torn from the Burror Mesa trail and wasn’t doing much good. I bought this poncho while doing the Arizona Trail north of Grand Canyon when it was snowing and it has lasted for at least 4 years, guess I got my money’s worth out of it.
Got back to Terlingua for dinner and a shower, got the dinner but power went out in the area and there was therefore no water. Being in the middle of nowhere it took about 6 hours before it was repaired, sometime in the middle of the night. That’s why they call it an adventure.
Left Tucson at 8:00 at night and drove to Big Bend arriving 10 hours later at sunrise. Started the day off with a hike along the Oak Spring Trail and Cattail Falls trail. The Oak Spring Trail is a 1.8 mile hike to the window Trail on Oak Creek and the falls. The Cattail Trail is a 1.1 mile trail to Cattail Falls on Cattail Creek that is one canyon south of Oak Creek. Together these trails combine to a little over 5 miles but the road to the trails is closed 1.6 miles from the trails so it makes for an 8.5 mile day with about 1500 feet AEG. Not a bad days hike on no sleep.
The Oak Spring Trail is about .1 miles past the signed intersection of the Cattail Trail along the dirt road that has been closed to vehicles. The trail Head is signed and in good condition and looks like it is regularly maintained. The trail offers good views to the west over Cottonwood Creek that is the main stream that drains the northwest side of the Chisos Mountains. We hiked up to the peak of the trail which is about .3 miles from the Window Trail below. I had been on the other portion of the trail on my last trip. The Window Trail heads to the top of the 200 foot falls on Oak Creek but you can not see the falls from this trail, You can only speculate how big a drop there is. The best view of the falls is from the Oak Spring Trail, from this trail you can see the whole falls. At the time we were there there was no water flow over the falls (maybe a very light flow).
The Cattail Trail is also well maintained but is not listed on maps. I was told they closed the road and don't advertise the trail to protect the riparian area near the falls. There was a light flow in Cattail Creek not all from the falls, it appears most of the flow was coming from the many springs at the base of the falls. It is hard to get a good picture of the falls because of all the growth at the base. There is plenty of shade and a good place to take a lunch break. Watch out for the poison oak, its all over the place around the falls. Also watch out for the low hanging rock over the trail just before the falls, I banged my head on it and saw stars for a while.
The desert cactus were in bloom but the Agave and yucca need another week or two for their displays. The weather was excellent with a light breeze. It had been raining lightly during the night. I forgot to turn on my GPS during part of the hike so it only shows 8.2 miles but luckily my hiking partner had her route scout on and measured 8.5.
Even though we had been up all night driving from Tucson to Big bend we still had a little energy after our first hike of the day at Oak Spring to do a short 1.2 mile hike to lower Burro Mesa Pour-Off. I want to do the upper portion tomorrow and thought we would see what the lower portion had to offer. The trail is easy walking with about half in a wash that probably is the hardest part. There was no one else at the trail head parking so we had the trail to ourselves.
This was supposed to be just a short hike to fill up some time before heading to Terlingua where we will stay the night but it turned out to be one of those unexpected treasures. The falls are impressive even though it was dry. This is literally a vertical drop of I’m guessing 150 to 200 feet. This short little hike got me really excited about hiking the top portion tomorrow. It would really be impressive to be here when there was a flash flood to see the water suddenly pour over the top. It would be worth setting up a game camera to observe the event. I think this falls is more impressive than the one at Oak Spring. Even if you are not in the park for hiking I would recommend you don't miss this, after all a 1.2 mile walk is not really hiking.
The hike into the falls is also impressive. The rock walls on the north side of the canyon are layers of volcanic tuff and basalt. The desert Willows were also blooming along the creek. We are ready to head back to Terlingua and get some sleep after being up for almost 40 hours. I was fine as long as I was moving but they had road construction on the road just before the park entrance and while waiting for the pilot car I kept nodding off. We got back had pizza and headed to bed.
Video [ youtube video ]
Short hike today in Saguaro National Park to take advantage of the cool weather. Started out on the Douglas Spring Trail then the Carrillo and returned on the Garwood Trail. This loop can be a little ho hum but if the conditions are right it is beautiful. Today was like that, big pillowy white and dark clouds with a few sprinkles. The desert was in bloom particularly the Ocotillo, Prickly Pear and the saguaros. The saguaros will probably be peaking in the next few weeks.
The trails were rather empty even though the parking lot was full. most people we saw were along the Douglas Spring Trail. Did see two park personnel that were doing some trail maintenance Near the Carrillo/Three Tanks Trail junction. Stopped by the Garwood Dam to check it out. This Dam use to be back filled with dirt but the water is allowed to pass through a pipe under the dam now and the backfill has been cleared out. Not sure how long it has been like this though.
Heading up a little further on Mount Lemmon as the weather gets warmer. Hiked the Green Mountain Trail from the General Hitchcock camp ground. Took a side trip to Maverick Spring and Guthrie Peak. The weather was perfect in the mid 70's with a breeze.
The Green Mountain Trail is in good condition up to the ridge where the Guthrie Mountain Trail splits off. A little evidence of last years fire but mostly burnt under brush leaving the trees alone. A couple areas along the trail you can see where the fire fighters cleared ridgelines of brush to contain the fire. The trail after the intersection with the Guthrie Trail is in good condition with some burn areas along the east side of Green Mountain that destroyed all the trees. We went in just a bit past Maverick Spring. There is a sign up on the ridge that says no trail so be advised. There was sign that the trail has been used by both hikers and Mountain bikers recently though. The views to the east have been enhanced by the removal of a lot of the underbrush.
Maverick Spring was particularly interesting because the brush has been burnt away and the spring is very visible. When I was here in 2013 the brush was so thick you could hardly see the spring. The trail in is a little vague so if you aren't sure where the spring is a GPS route would be advisable. Saw a couple of mulies along the trail and they did not seem to be too alarmed by us, they stopped and allowed us to get pictures. Maverick Spring had a seep of water but the Trough was dry. The spring is up the hill about 20 yards from the trough.
The highlight of the hike was Guthrie Peak. I had not been up here since 2013 and at that time I was not that impressed. Don't know why, it is a very steep ascent to the peak and I didn't think the views were that great. This time was different, there is still a very steep ascent(probably the steepest Ginny has been on), But the views were Spectacular. Mount Graham and Galiuros to the east Mica Mountain, Tanque Verde Peak and Santa Rita's to the south, As far as you can see to the west and Mount Lemmon of coarse to the north. There is one section of the ascent where it requires a steep rock scramble. for young people it is a steep walk up a rock surface, for us older folks it was and hands and foot climb. There doesn't appear to be any recent fire damage along this trail but there is evidence an older burn.
Kudos to Ginny on this hike, not the most miles we have done but definitely the most AEG. When we got to the steep rock section of the ascent up to Mount Guthrie I asked if she was up for this and she just said between gasping breaths, "continue". So on all fours we went up.
Lots of chores today, Rug weaving, sewing hiking clothes, a little upholstery and furniture repair and cleaning the house but managed to get a short hike in at the end of the day. What a perfect day for a late day hike. The temps were in the mid 70's, slight overcast and a light breeze. We headed to an area close to home, Cienega Creek and did the Arizona Trail to Posta Quemada Ranch. We finished the hike just before sunset about a half hour too soon. The sunset was spectacular, just the right amount and type of clouds. If we delayed our hike a bit we would of enjoyed the sunset while hiking instead of driving down I-10 with the sun in our eyes going to a restaurant for dinner. Oh well can't plan everything perfectly.
The desert was quite green with the ocotillo and creosote in bloom. A few hedgehogs were also blooming. Did not see any agave blooming, maybe they are going to skip this year. Probably the most interesting thing on this trail are the limestone rocks. Quite a variety of Permian, Mississippian era with a few from the Cambrian. Lots of variation and color. At the saddle overlooking Posta Quemada Ranch we stopped to observe the vultures taking turns flying over the saddle low and catching the breeze. They were only about 20 to 30 feet off the ground and when they crossed over the saddle and hit the breeze they would come to a complete stop and just hang in mid air. They took turns doing this. There were about 10 vultures all waiting for their turn to perform this act. Looked like aircraft in a holding pattern over the airport waiting for their turn. I think they were having a contest to see who could be suspended in mid air the longest. The winner probably got the dead rotting carcass of some animal. Looked so interesting I told Ginny I wanted to try it but there were no rocks high enough for me to jump from.
This hike was a rehash of a section of trails I did a few years ago. Arizona Trail #11 or the Sycamore Reservoir Trail from Gordon Hirabayashi Campground. We hiked to the ridge that separates Bear Canyon from Sabino Canyon. There is a short section of trail that Connects the Bear Canyon Trail to the Sycamore Trail that I was not able to locate the last time I hiked this area so I wanted to locate it and get a GPS route for it on this hike.
The Sycamore Trail is in good condition starting at the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground crossing Soldier Canyon(dry)and ridge Separating Soldier from Bear Canyon then dropping into Sycamore Reservoir. The ridge between soldier and bear is just slight increase in elevation when heading west but a good 500 feet when approaching from the bear Canyon side. Not a difficult climb but it gets your attention after the easy walking in Sycamore Creek. Bear Canyon Creek had a light flow over the dam at sycamore Reservoir. The Sycamores were just coming out of their winter sleep with lush green leaves.
We headed east up Sycamore Creek to the ridge that separates Bear Canyon from Sycamore/Bear Canyon. Not much of a ridge, maybe 30 feet of elevation separates these two water sheds. This looks like a great example of stream piracy if sycamore creek ever breaches that ridge. There is a good 500 foot drop into East Sabino Canyon Creek. Before we got to that ridge I looked for the Spur Trail that connects up with the Bear Canyon Trail. My route shows me searching for it. Found the trail and continued up to the Bear Canyon Trail. Not sure how I missed the trail before, great condition but not marked on either end. From the junction with the Bear Canyon Trail we headed down (north) the Bear Canyon Trail to the Sycamore Canyon Trail at the ridge. East Sabino Canyon is about 500 feet below to the west and Sycamore Creek is about 30 feet down to the East. Along this trail we spotted an animal that resembled a racoon or badger but didn't quite fit either of those, turned out to be a Coatimundi. First one I have seen in the Catalina's. Sycamore Creek had water flow in the lower end near the reservoir.
Stopped for a lunch break in the shade of some trees in upper Sycamore Creek. Headed back to our start point after lunch. Great weather the whole hike with a slight breeze to ward off the suns heat.
This was not actually a hike but since we were traveling over the Chiricahua's on our way back we stopped at Rustler Park. I told Ginny we could climb the 100 feet or so to get up on the ridge and have views to the west and Barfoot Park. Started out on the crest trail but almost immediately headed up the hill to the crest. Great views with a little clearer atmosphere.
On our return to Tucson after a stop in Gleeson and Tombstone we stopped in the Ghost Town of FairBank Arizona. I have hiked the trails here before but Ginny asked about the train from Tombstone and this was one of the stops it made. Walked to the San Pedro River which was flowing.
On our second day we hiked the Greenhouse Trail. I wanted to go up to the Crest Trail but figured better only go up to the Winn Falls overlook. Took the forest service road to Greenhouse Canyon and parked the jeep there. We headed up the creek. The going was slow because of all the rock hopping and log climbing. After about 20 minutes of this I started to wonder if the trail was up along the north side of the creek. I told Ginny to wait while I look up a little higher up along the side of the creek. Got up about 50 feet and what do you know a forest service road that leads to the Greenhouse Trail head. I told Ginny I knew this was here but just wanted to do it the hard way. We continued up the road to the Trail Head. On our return trip we took the road all the way back.
The greenhouse trail is in good condition and easy to follow. Very steep but consistent so if you get your pace it isn't too bad. Climbs about 1000 feet in about 1.1 miles. Winn Falls can be seen from a saddle that the trail crosses and is marked by a sign. We headed back from here after a short break. The trail continues a climb for the next.3 miles before leveling out a bit for the final climb to the Crest Trail. I will have to finish the upper portion the next time I'm on the Crest Trail. The view of the falls is excellent here and I hear it is about the only place you will get a good view of the falls. There was a very light flow over the falls maybe a quart or two per minute. The ground on the upper portion of this hike was still damp from recent snows. Returned the way we came except followed the road the whole way. I got a GPS route for the road that leads from the Herb Martyr Road all the way to the Greenhouse Trail Head incase I do this again after a case of Alzheimer's.
Greenhouse Canyon had a moderate flow on the upper portion and graded into pools and then no flow on the lower end. Snow could still be seen on the northside of the higher peaks but their days are numbered. Temps in the upper 60s up at the falls and 70's on the lower end at Herb Martyr. We Visited the Herb Martyr Falls and John Hand Falls after the hike. Water was flowing pretty good in cave Creek at both points.
Ginny and I took a three day Trip to the Chiricahua Mountains, since Ginny had never been we made the first day a hike in Chiricahua National Monument. We did a loop using the Mushroom, Big Balanced Rock, Sarah Deming and Echo Canyon Trails. This area never ceases to amaze me. There was only one other vehicle in the park when we arrived not counting the one park vehicle which was empty. We encountered a few other people later in the day but for the most part the park was empty. Didn't see any masks all day but a couple of people we did see would get to the side of the trail and turn away and look down when you passed by them. So sad that people are so afraid.
Trails in the monument are in excellent condition unlike many of the trails in the Chiricahua Mountains. The only downside to the trails are the numerous steps which take a toll on your legs and thighs by the end of the day. Don't know how else you would make a trail that has a lot of elevation change and control erosion without them though. Install escalators? The Big Balanced rock Trail is about the only fairly level Trail. Took two side trips from the loop the first being Inspiration Point and the other the Heart Of Rocks Trail. Both these trails are a must do if you are on the loop. If I was a kid again (my age not the way I act) I would of loved to have the Heart of Rocks as my back yard, my mother never would of found me. I would also like to know what glue they use to keep Big Balanced Rock, Mushroom Rock and Pinnacle Balanced Rock in place, They should not be standing. I chose going in the clockwise direction because the Echo Canyon Trail is so impressive and would keep our minds off of how tired we were. Views from Inspiration Point were good but the atmosphere was a bit hazy so you had to use your imagination to see the Rincon Mountains and Santa Rita Mountains.
There was a scant amount of water in places along the creeks but not as much as I would of expected. The weather was in the low 50's starting out at 0830 and in the upper 70's by end of the day. We finished around 3 in the afternoon and headed over the Chiricahua's where we would spend the night at Portal Lodge. The road over the mountain was in good shape and only one other car on it when we went through.
Got an early 0630 start from the King Canyon Trail Head. Trying to beat the heat up to Wasson Peak. Accomplished this with the help of a sporadic light cloud cover. All the trails are in excellent condition and this made the continuous climb to the peak a lot easier. Saw 3 people at the peak ahead of us and about a half dozen coming up as we were heading down. Stopped and checked out the mine just before hitting the saddle below Wasson Peak on the Sweetwater Trail. Cool but nothing real exciting, It's only 10 yards off the trail and a scoot under a barbed wire fence. The actual mine entrance is blocked off so you cant go in more than a couple yards. I really like the early morning views from on top the peak particularly Panther and Sombrero to the north.
Headed down the Hugh Norris Trail to the Sendero Esperanza Trail. Really nice trail, they put a lot of work on this trail, not rocky like the King Canyon and Sweetwater Trail. Sections of this trail are through decomposed granite that makes for fine trails. Lots of really fat saguaros along this trail, they must like the decomposed granite also. If you like dragging out the climb to Wasson Peak this is probably the way to go, I like to get it over with so King Canyon is for me and do the downhill on a more gradual trail. Once at the Sendero Esperanza Trail we headed south toward the Gould Mine and the Gould Mine Trail back to our start point.
Flowers on the ocotillo and hedgehog and a few poppies, not a great year for flowers. We finished the hike at about 1100 and headed across the street to the desert Museum for our 1130 scheduled visit time. Not the best time to visit with afternoon temps in the low 90's but Ginny has never been and we were in the area. Lots of flowers blooming in the Museum though. Congrats to Ginny on her first hike where the destination was a peak.
March was a bust for hiking, I think I got a whopping 6 miles in for the month, terrible. The house painting is done so it's time to get back to a little hiking. Ginny and I did a local hike in Sabino Canyon. I have hiked this many times but was a first for Ginny. We hiked up Sabino Canyon Road and came back along the Phoneline Trail which is about 600 feet above the creek bottom. The hike was 8.5 miles total with about 1100 feet of elevation gain. A good starter hike to wake up the body after letting it go lazy for a month. Sabino Canyon had a light flow but no water across the bridges as it was last year.
We started at the Sabino Canyon overflow parking along Sabino Canyon road and took the .4 mile trail to the road. There is a fee for parking in this lot but the National park pass is accepted. The walk along the road was pleasant and not too many people on it. There was no water across the bridges but there is a moderate flow. The cottonwoods were in their spring green, saw a couple saguaros with blooms but they were in the minority. Very scant flower showing along the Phoneline Trail. The cactus look a little more hydrated than they did in January.
We took the Historic Sabino Canyon Trail #23A up to the Phoneline Trail. This Trail starts at a signed junction with the road just after crossing the last bridge, I believe #9. This trail is a short .7 miles and climbs about 600 feet. Great views of upper and lower Sabino Canyon and the ridge above that separates Sabino and Bear Canyon. Great views of Thimble Peak.
The Phoneline Trail is pretty much a level walk down canyon with a little elevation climb just prior to the link trail. Always a great trail to get a birds eye view of the canyon. Just before the link trail there is an enormous rock that fell from the cliffs above and upon reaching its resting place decided to split, the lower portion slid a little more downhill. Worth spending a little time exploring. I could not find an easy way to get to the lower portion but I'm sure there are some more energetic hikers that would be able to do that.
The Link trail was our route back to the creek bed. This trail is an easy down hill maybe a little more drawn out than it needs to be though, very long switchbacks. Probably easier to come up this trail and head down the Historic Sabino Trail #23A.
Back in Arizona again but busy painting the house so I haven't been able to get in as much hiking as I would like. I did manage to get a short hike in to Hope Camp in Saguaro National Park. I have done this many times before but this is a first for Ginny. We took a short section of the Quilter Trail also. The windmill at Hope Camp hasn't changed much, blades at the base and the tail still blowing in the wind above. This is a F. Ronstadt Hardware store of Tucson wind mill. There are a few of these around southern Arizona. I always get his grand daughters songs stuck in my head when I visit one of these. Very few people on the trail but did run into two horse back tours with tourist. The Cactus look a lot better than a couple months ago, not quite so wrinkled after the rains/snow. Still need more though. No water to report except a small pool on the trail, expect from horse.
Hope to get some more hiking in while I'm back in Arizona but the honey do list is getting longer.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.