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Nov 26 2019

 Guides 1
 Routes 1
 Photos 19
 Triplogs 4

 Joined Dec 12 2018
Cochie Canyon to Wild Burro TraverseTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 26 2019
Marana_hikerTriplogs 4
Hiking3.63 Miles 833 AEG
Hiking3.63 Miles   2 Hrs   2 Mns   2.04 mph
833 ft AEG      15 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Note: Additional notes detailing an alternate climb/path to the crest have been added at the end of this entry...

This entry provides my impressions of the traverse from the Wild Mustang trail in the Tortolita Mountain Park westbound to the northern terminus of the Cochie Springs trail. The two named trails are maintained by trail crews from the city of Marana, while the traverse is an unmaintained, cairned footpath. This description covers only the traverse (from East to West) beginning at a jump off point on the Wild Mustang trail and ending at the terminus of the Cochie Springs trail. There are many descriptions elsewhere of the Wild Burro and Wild Mustang trails which bracket the traverse. Additionally, fricknaley and markthurman53 have provided GPS tracks and descriptions of the traverse. After reviewing my track, it is essentially fricknaley's so I would direct you to his posting.

The Wild Mustang jump off point can be reached from either a hike up the Wild Burro canyon via the trail of the same name, or from the longer approach of the Wild Mustang trail. I used the Wild Burro trail up the canyon/wash past Alamo Springs to the junction with the Wild Mustang trail, approximately 3 miles. From the parking lot at an easy pace it took me a little more than an hour to get to the jump off.

From the junction of Wild Burro and Wild Mustang, proceed west/left. You will almost immediately come to a cattle gate. [There are cattle in both canyons and you have a fair chance of seeing some around Cochie Springs]. At .15 miles from the trail junction you will cross a wash, and at .2 miles the WM trail crosses another smaller wash. {See note at end of this entry.] This is the traverse jump off point. There is a Wild Mustang metal marker (see photoset of jump off point).

The traverse begins heading north up the small wash. The trail is not cairned at the jump off point (most likely to prevent confusion to users of the Wild Mustang trail), but after 40 yards or so you will begin to see cairns along the stream bed. The stream bed is mostly gravel, easy to walk on, and is relatively clear (not many boulders to avoid nor heavy vegetation to fight through). I would describe the majority of this part of the trail as gentle. At .37 the stream bed splits - bear left, and again at .42 miles where you bear right. The trail will leave the wash to the left and parallels it about 50' feet up the slope. The reason is to bypass an impressive 50-75' stream bed wall. [You could follow the stream all the way to the wall but from above it looked like it would be a steep climb out of the wash to regain the trail on the left.]

The trail departs the wash for good about 50 yards past the wall, where you will hopefully see cairns on the right. If you lose the cairns in the wash, just follow it to the wall, climb either side to rejoin the wash, and then pick up the trail as it departs the wash to the right about 50 yards west.
The trail is now in more open ground and cairns are usually visible upon close inspection of the terrain. The next objective is to reach a small saddle so even if you deviate from the path just climb/head westerly toward the saddle. Cairns can help you regain the trail should you stray a bit.
From the saddle the next point is to reach the crest of the trail, which is just north of the very large outcropping (see photoset). The ascent to the crest is not strenuous, the trail mostly gravel and small rocks, and is pretty comfortable to navigate. Upon reaching the crest, and much to my surprise, I realized the climb up the Wild Burro canyon to Alamo Springs was the steepest of the entire ascent.

Having hiked the Cochie Springs trail numerous times and looking at the steep western walls of the ridge line, I was not looking forward to the descent into Cochie Springs canyon. I expected a knee-straining, thigh burning steep descent. While there were a few steep yards interspersed in the initial descent, the footpath tracks far enough north that the descent was much easier than I anticipated. Once again, the trail was mostly rock or gravel following a discernible trail, with very little scree to deal with. Although I had a walking stick, the descent could easily be done without one. There was no sliding or boulder hopping as many of my other Tortolita bushwacking adventures entailed. I considered it a mostly easy, long descent. [Note: this is not to say that hikers choosing the west to east traverse will regard the climb in the same way.] The trail descends toward a large hill (see photoset), then passes over the tops of several more as it descends a ridge line into Cochie Canyon. You eventually descend into lower elevations filled with Palo Verdes, but the trail again is clear enough that you don't have to bushwack your way through any part of it.

Javelina and cattle signs are everywhere at the lower elevations, and eventually the trail joins a cattle trail and crosses a wash with the remnants of a dam on the left/east. You continue on a cattle path in the final descent to Cochie Springs and the Aeromotor windmill. One note about the spring (a cattle trough): in wet and warm weather the area can be swarming with gnats and flies. If you are planning to stop for a bite to eat, you might want to continue out of the canyon. There is a nice rock outcropping about .8 miles south that this almost always bug free (but also unfortunately shadow free).

From the northern terminus of the Cochie Spring trail, your options are to reverse your hike or continue on the Cochie Springs trail back toward the Ritz Carlton facility or the trail head parking lot. Using the Hotel Spur trail, it's a little less than 4.5 miles back.

I've been anticipating this hike for a long time and it was a very pleasant surprise. There are some great views, including Picacho Peak framed between two hills, you get a good feel for the entire Tortolita Mountain Park, and for being off the beaten path it is a very nice trail with almost no bushwacking required (at least at this time of year). This traverse is certainly an unexpected gem, especially For those who have hiked all the maintained trails in area.

Further observations:
When I hike off the maintained trails and expect heavy bushwacking or tall grass, I wear gaiters for both snake and spine protection. I wore them on this hike, but the trail conditions and absence of heavy vegetation at this time of year made them optional for me.

Pima County and the State have already scouted a trail which will link the CAP trail to the southern half of the Cochie Springs trail. It would be really great if this traverse trail could some day be officially incorporated into the official trail system.

There is no potable water on this route. The trough at Cochie Springs may or may not have water in it, but it's generally pretty gross.

The total distance for this hike was approximately 10.5 miles:
Wild Burro Parking Lot > Wild Burro > Wild Mustang Jump Off > Traverse > Cochie Springs > Hotel Spur > Parking Lot

Note on the WM Jump Off Point: The small wash which forms the trail for the first part of the traverse is the same wash which ends just north of the Alamo Springs bench on the Wild Burro trail. The wash is easy walking, there is only one rock wall 5-10' which requires navigating over or around. Following the wash shaves about .1-.2 miles off the distance from Alamo Springs to the WM jump off, so the distance saved isn't significant. But if you prefer walking up a small wash rather than taking the Wild Burro/Wild Mustang trails, it's an option. You will see the WM trail and the metal trail marker at the jump off point.

Wild Mustang jump off point: 32.50319, -111.06540
Stream bed wall (approximately, I think I took the reading a bit southeast): 32.50657, -111.06807
Crest: 32.50742, -111.07366
End (Cattle trail/road north of Cochie Springs): 32.50872, -111.08883

Fricknaely GPS: [ gps route ]

1. Wild Mustang Jump Off Point
2. Stream bed/wash with multicolored rocks
3. Outcropping target (pass crest just north of outcropping)
4. Cochie Springs canyon
5. Descent target (trail passes over this and descending hilltops SW as descend)
6. Traverse junction with cow path 50 yards north of dam.
10/31/20 Most posted tracks of the traverse either ascend or descend a dry stream bed (depending on which canyon you start in - Wild Burro or Cochie. The route departs the Wild Mustang trail near it's northern junction with the Wild Burro Trail and uses the dry stream bed (see the main report above).

This week I did an additional traverse from east to west (WB to Cochie), using an alternate route to the saddle from which the descent into Cochie Canyon begins. I started at the Hotel Spur trail near the Tortolita Mountain Preserve trailhead parking lot. The route uses the Hotel Spur, Upper Javelina and Wild Mustang trails to reach a point close to the high point of the Wild Mustang Trail. I had mapped my route out on a map I wanted to take, and when I reached the jump off point (see coordinates below) much to my surprise (and delight) there was an unmaintained but clearly discernible and cairned trail leading NNW. I soon realized I'd seen this trail on my summits of the WM peaks and it runs from my jump off point all the way to start of the descent into Cochie Canyon. It initially runs NNW toward one of the summits and then turns NNE following the ridgeline until you reach the saddle/descent point. I initially followed it NNW for about .3 miles before heading NNE. (I left the trail for a bit since I didn't know if this trail actually climbed the peak to the NNW and I'd already been to its summit). Whether it did or not, I found the trail again not too far to the NNE and followed it to the saddle.

From the jump off point the climbing is minimal - most of the climb is achieved prior to getting to the jump off point. From the jump off point the fauna allows fairly easy bushwhacking if you don't want to follow the trail itself. Vegetation is sparse enough that you can easily avoid the cholla, prickly pear and other troublesome desert plants.

I'll add that the descent to Cochie Springs was pretty much as I described in the initial report, although the descending trail seemed a bit more unstable (more gravel and loose rock) due to the extended drought we've had this year.

This traverse option keeps you on more discernible trails for almost the entire traverse. The terrain on the ascent is open enough that there is minimal bushwhacking even if you leave the path. Since I hike alone and had not been on this route before, I wore gaiters for snake and brush protection. After completing the hike I don't feel wearing them was an absolute requirement.

Jump off point (90 degree bend in the Wild Mustang Trail): 32.49923, -111.07667
Wild Burro/Cochie Springs Saddle/Descent Point: 32.50767, -111.07349
From the Hotel Spur start, the distance to the jump off point is about 2.9 miles.
The distance from the jump off point to the descent point is about .9 miles.
5 archives
Oct 21 2019

 Guides 1
 Routes 1
 Photos 19
 Triplogs 4

 Joined Dec 12 2018
Waterman PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 21 2019
Marana_hikerTriplogs 4
Hiking2.15 Miles 1,249 AEG
Hiking2.15 Miles   3 Hrs   5 Mns   1.00 mph
1,249 ft AEG      56 Mns Break14 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
From I-10, take the Avra Valley Rd exit and head west. It's a pretty drive in the early morning with views of all the southern Arizona mountain ranges. At approximately 20 miles (20.3 on my odometer) turn left on the unmarked road which becomes Johnstone Mine Road. The road is paved but the first 50' or so may appear to be gravel due to the mining vehicles using the road. Shortly you will pass a "Titan 2 Interpretive Site" sign. You will pass a "drive through" loop parking lot on the left at about 1.3 miles from the turnoff but you want the second pull-in lot 1.5 miles from the Avra Valley Rd turnoff. The road is still paved to this point. If you hit gravel or dirt (there was a mine truck spraying water just past the turnoff) you probably have gone too far.

The trail head begins on an old rocky road with a "No Motorized Vehicles" sign. This quickly turns into a very rocky 5-8' wide pathway with a moderate ascent. The "road" crosses a small gully and leads to a saddle at about .5 miles. There is a fairly recognizable trail from the saddle heading generally up and WSW on a ridge. As you ascend you will see a large outcropping. You can't see the peak until later in the climb. Pass right of the outcropping and continue upwards. At this point, I came across numerous faint trails but these trails had few switchbacks and one route was generally as good as another. There is little vegetation or slope variance so choosing a way up is really not critical.

Without seeing the peak itself, I veered a bit more WNW as I wanted to visit the memorial to Loren Leonberger, a helicopter pilot who died attempting to land at a mining site in January 2011. Wherever you happen to ascend on the east side of Waterman Peak you should be able to see the white cross off to the north. There is a white cross, plaque, and a pair of boots hanging from the cross.

Waterman Peak was now visible and I ascended it from the northern side since that is where I was coming from. The last 50' of elevation requires a bit of scrambling to reach the summit but the footing is good on stable rock and it is not difficult. (When choosing a descent path, the eastern side looked shallower but since I couldn't see the entire route I elected to descend off the peak the way I came.)

The summit is narrow and consists of 3 humps, with a very inconveniently-placed palo verde growing between two of them. My GPS showed the middle hump to be 2' higher than the westernmost, but who knows. The GPS indicated 3834' but Gaia, Avenza and Route Scout all recorded an altitude of less than 3800'. The views of all the southern Arizona mountain ranges are great, as are views of the Silver Bell Mine to the north and the Waterman mine almost directly below the summit on the west side. (A quarry driver I stopped and talked to on Johnstone Rd said this mine, which he called Waterman, is a rock quarry which produces everything from pea gravel to large boulders.) I did not find a logbook at the summit.

My ascent took about 1+25 which included the stop at the memorial, and the descent took just about an hour. I was doing this with a mildly fractured big toe (not hiking related) so this trail shouldn't be particularly difficult for hikers who have any experience hiking off-trail or on non-NP/Forest Service trails. I didn't try to follow trails on the descent until reaching the old roadbed but found that my route was almost identical to the ascent except for the detour to the memorial.

Trail Conditions:
Some rocks on the trail are extremely sharp. I do a lot of bushwhacking in the Tortolitas. Some of the granite on those peaks can shred clothing if you aren't careful (bushwhacking only, not on the established trails), but it is not nearly as sharp as some of the igneous rocks here. Most of the rocks are not sharp, but some are. I used leather gloves on the final ascent. The rocks here didn't appear to be as sharp but I didn't want to find out. There is some scree along portions of the trail but in most places there are rocks firmly in place to prevent this from becoming an issue. I found my trekking pole useful but not necessary. Any path you choose will be open and you will only have to dodge the ocotillos and occasional cactus.
On the descent, I almost became very close friends with a rattlesnake coiled in a shadow on an animal trail, so always watch where you are stepping and placing your hands. I saw several deer near the trail head but didn't spot any of the bighorn sheep.

One environmental note: this route is fully exposed to the sun from sunrise until at least mid-afternoon. There are only a couple of outcroppings which could provide a small amount of shade. Water, sunblock and early starts are highly recommended.

Final Thoughts:
I see Waterman Peak on the horizon every day from my home, so I am glad to have made the ascent. The hike itself is open rock from the end of the old road to the summit, with not a lot of variation. Nevertheless this is an interesting hike with the Leonberger memorial and the great unobstructed views of the Southern Arizona mountain ranges and mines.

Titan 2 Interpretive Site
Shortly after turning onto Johnstone Mine Rd there is a sign for the "Titan 2 Interpretive Site". A gravel road leads off to the right to the site of deactivated a Titan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) site. There are some interpretive signs talking about the site's history. All that remains are some concrete pads used in the complex. The actual missile silo was destroyed per treaty. The silo site looks like the rest of the desert. It's about a 10 minute diversion and provides an interesting insight into a part of southern Arizona's history that many are probably not aware of.

Trail Head Parking Lot:
32.3580, -111.4706

Road Saddle:
32.35305, -111.46845

Leonberger Memorial:
32.35116, -111.47230

Waterman Peak:
32.34962, -111.47336
2 archives
Sep 30 2019

 Guides 1
 Routes 1
 Photos 19
 Triplogs 4

 Joined Dec 12 2018
Old Baldy - Super Trail LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 30 2019
Marana_hikerTriplogs 4
Hiking12.90 Miles 4,098 AEG
Hiking12.90 Miles   7 Hrs   45 Mns   2.04 mph
4,098 ft AEG   1 Hour   25 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Plenty of triplogs, so I'll just update the trail conditions as of today (9-30-2019).
Old Baldy up, Super Loop down.

Old Baldy: Very good trail condition the entire way to the summit. Bellows Spring was flowing and a very slight stream was coming out of the pipe. It would take quite a while to fill a quart container using the pipe. Plenty of yellow wildflowers.

Super Loop: Trail conditions were very good, but the wildflowers and other vegetation are beginning to encroach a bit on the trail, especially on the east and south sides of Mt Wrightson. On the entire trail, the path is easily visible. The wildflowers are starting to reach over the trail itself but do not cause issues. Descending to the south and southwest sides, there are some thistles and other stickers that might might bother hikers wearing shorts but nothing serious. Old Baldy Spring's tanks have stagnant water in the bottom. The spring is flowing at least a bit but I would not consider it a water source. Further down, at Sprung Spring, there is again stagnant water but the spring sounded like it was running enough to get a bit of water in a pinch.

Here are some temperatures just for grins:
Summit temperature at 1100 under sunny skies: 62
Tucson temperature at 1100: 80

3+30 for me to summit on Old Baldy. I blame the 3 A's: Ascent, Altitude, and Age (66)
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Extensive yellows everywhere the sun peaks through, with few reds and pinks thrown in occasionally.
2 archives
Jan 28 2019

 Guides 1
 Routes 1
 Photos 19
 Triplogs 4

 Joined Dec 12 2018
Panther Peak North to South, AZ 
Panther Peak North to South, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 28 2019
Marana_hikerTriplogs 4
Hiking8.04 Miles 3,148 AEG
Hiking8.04 Miles   5 Hrs   50 Mns   1.74 mph
3,148 ft AEG   1 Hour   12 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This hike originated at Sanctuary Cove, included an ascent of Panther Peak from the north and a descent down the southern side, and then a loop on the desert floor back to Sanctuary Cove. The trail has been described by others, so I'll just record a few observations:

1. The ascent and descent of what I call "Sanctuary Ridge" at the start and end of the hike can be accomplished on established trails, but I often seem to end up improvising. Vegetation and topography are not major factors if you end up "off trail". Once you get to the desert floor on the west side of the ridge there are well defined trails.

2. The jump off point to leave the east/west trail and head for the north-side gully for the ascent is marked by 2 cairns. If you look north past the NPS barbed wire border fence you will see another, substantial cairn located on private property. The trail junction is slightly west of due north of the gully.

3. The ascent trail is well marked and relatively easy to follow. The climb is mainly over/around boulders. At about 3/4 of the way to the saddle there are a few places that required me to use hands to assist in the climb, but there is no exposure - just large steps of a few feet in height.

4. From the saddle there is a well marked trail westward up the slope to the Panther Peak summit.

5. The descent to the south was shallower than the north side ascent. The descent slope was largely scree, especially at the beginning, with footing unstable but manageable. I'd recommend a trekking pole or two. The trail firmed up during the descent.

6. The trails around Panther Peak and back to "Sanctuary Ridge" are mostly obvious but not always marked. It's not much of a factor as you could walk anywhere and can always find the major trail by walking north until you hit the NPS border fence, which the eastbound trail closely follows. The loop trail is mostly dirt on the south and northwest portions, sandy wash on the western side, and becomes more and more rocky as you proceed easterly toward what I call Sanctuary Ridge.

7. For variety approaching the aforementioned ridge, I stuck with a trail that ran right along the border fence. A short distance into the climb up this ridge, there was a gate to the north (private property) and the trail I was following was marked "Closed". Not knowing the reason for the closure, I backtracked a bit, moved south, and bushwhacked my way back up the ridge without any problems. Note this trail was more northerly than the major trail depicted on some maps...

8. I enjoyed this hike very much and thought the views from Panther Peak were a bit better than from Sombrero/Safford Peak, even though the summit is lower and you don't see much of Tucson (perhaps that's why).

9. As far as which side to pick for the ascent, I prefer ascending from the north. The trail is along/over boulders which provide firm footing, even when having to do a bit of hand-assisted stepping up. The south side consists of a lot of loose scree, especially the upper half. Although the approach from the south is shallower, I prefer ascending on solid surfaces and descending on scree - avoiding steeper descents when possible - it's easier on my knees for one thing. Either way you choose you will be treated with excellent views.

I'm in my 60's and had no difficulty completing this hike.

3 archives
average hiking speed 1.7 mph

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.


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