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Link Trail - Santa Rita Mtns - 5 members in 15 triplogs have rated this an average 2.8 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Mar 19 2021
ultrazona
avatar

 Routes 7
 Photos 1,381
 Triplogs 198

34 male
 Joined Mar 07 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
Cave Canyon Trail #149Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 19 2021
ultrazona
Hiking13.00 Miles 3,832 AEG
Hiking13.00 Miles
3,832 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Easy to navigate snow up high. Trails in good condition. Minor blow down. Some blowdown removed via handsaw during hike.
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1 archive
Sep 13 2020
RedwallNHops
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 10
 Photos 548
 Triplogs 1,290

46 male
 Joined Dec 22 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Gardner Canyon/Cave creek loop, AZ 
Gardner Canyon/Cave creek loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Sep 13 2020
RedwallNHops
Hiking13.00 Miles 4,314 AEG
Hiking13.00 Miles
4,314 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
up Gardner/down cave canyon. Summitted Wrightson
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May 16 2020
LindaAnn
avatar

 Guides 65
 Routes 407
 Photos 4,556
 Triplogs 1,379

41 female
 Joined Dec 24 2007
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Wrightson - Florida, AZ 
Wrightson - Florida, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 16 2020
LindaAnn
Hiking14.36 Miles 4,577 AEG
Hiking14.36 Miles   8 Hrs   52 Mns   1.83 mph
4,577 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Parked at the end of Gardner Canyon Rd. The road is in very good shape, only two short rocky spots and one spot of water.

Headed up Link Trail, then up Gardner Canyon trail. I like Gardner Canyon, the pine trees are nice. The trail is generally in good shape, although the upper half is steep and not much shade. The other bonus is that it doesn't seem to get much use.

Once we reached Super Trail, we headed north and made our way up to Baldy Saddle, where we took a short break. After that, we headed up to Wrightson. The mile or so from the saddle to the summit was very crowded with other hikers, as expected. Out of the entire day, this was the only section where we saw anyone else. Quick stop at the summit to take a few pic, but it was very buggy (as was the majority of the day) so we kept moving.

Another break at the saddle, then we continued north on Crest Trail. Again, the sections with pines are very pleasant. Some spots of the trail are brushy and I was glad I wore pants instead of shorts. At Florida Saddle, we got onto East Sawmill and headed over towards Florida Peak. Sawmill is very overgrown, and is kind of a hassle to hike. The short offtrail up to Florida was actually a relief, although we didn't hang around on the summit since it was buzzing with insects.

Once back at Florida Saddle, we headed down Cave Canyon trail. Once again, I really liked Cave Canyon. The trail is steep in the upper half, but in nice shape, and not overgrown. There was a good amount of water flowing in the lower half. Very pleasant hiking, although not much breeze so it felt warm.

I wasn't feeling all that great, so the hike was more of a grind than it should have been, but it was still enjoyable. Within the first mile of the hike, I'd actually had the thought that I would have turned around if I hadn't just driven nearly three hours for this. That was really the only reason I went through with the hike. The heat and insects were also two negatives of the day. Still, it was good to get out there, and even better to only have to deal with other hikers for less than two miles of the entire loop. I think next time, I'll skip the Florida Peak part, and make the loop a little shorter. We each went through just under 4 liters of water.
Flora
Flora
Claret Cup Cactus

dry Baldy Spring Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
A couple of pools. Didn't look great.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Plenty of water in the pools and for the first 1.5 miles of Cave Canyon trail.

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Apr 05 2020
jladderud
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 12
 Photos 17
 Triplogs 78

31 male
 Joined Oct 05 2017
 Tucson, AZ
Cave Canyon Trail #149Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 05 2020
jladderud
Hiking12.80 Miles 3,600 AEG
Hiking12.80 Miles   6 Hrs   26 Mns   2.42 mph
3,600 ft AEG   1 Hour   8 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
As the effort to find trails where people ain't continues, I headed to the east side of the Santa Ritas. I was very pleased with the Cave Canyon Trail. The Crest Trail and I are old friends, so no discovering happening there; but it was time to find some snow. The Gardner Canyon Trail was admittedly nothing special, except for some very charming streams. It was also nice to bag a new peak: Florida Peak.
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2 archives
Nov 17 2019
Mountain_Rat
avatar

 Guides 11
 Routes 106
 Photos 676
 Triplogs 219

58 male
 Joined Jul 14 2011
 Tucson, AZ
Gardner n Cave Canyons, AZ 
Gardner n Cave Canyons, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 17 2019
Mountain_Rat
Hiking15.00 Miles 4,700 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles   8 Hrs   16 Mns   2.10 mph
4,700 ft AEG   1 Hour   7 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
A few weeks back I tossed the idea to Linda to do this little loop, which would knock a few trails and peaks off of both of our lists and she liked the idea, so we set it up. I've wanted to get over to this side of the Santa Ritas for quite a long while, but even for a Tucsonan, it's a drive, so I really was happy that Linda was willing to make the trip down.

We got an early start, but ended up stuck behind a Wide Load on the Sonoita Hwy, so that kinda washed out, but we ended up starting about 07:45.

We headed up the Gardner trail, getting the sunny section out of the way early, so that Linda didn't have to use the 'H' word. This seems to have been a good choice, as we made good time and were topping out at Wrightson before we knew it (or at least it seemed like it). From there, we could see the rest of our elevation gain just across Baldy Saddle, and were not intimidated by it in the least, so we headed off to confront it. The trip across the Crest was beautiful and I spent some time to really orient myself as opposed to just charging through. I must say, there's a lot to take in. We got off track a little when trying to tag Mt Ian (or so we think), but eventually got our act together and headed on. Next stop, Florida Peak, this time with no trouble, except for the ladybug infestation during our break at the summit. From here it would all be downhill, and that's obviously what the bear thought too. Oh, did I mention that we saw a bear on the Sawmill Trail? Well we did. While Linda may have nailed a pic of it, mine turned out looking like the Loch Ness Monster dancing with Bigfoot. Moving along, we finished out the best section of the hike heading down the Cave Canyon. This section is as nicely groomed as any in southern AZ, easy to follow and with little dead fall (we had expected much worse). The canopy has a nice balance of tree to sky, while having a very open feel to it. The canyon bottom is wide compared to most canyon trails I'm used to. It had sort of a meadowy effect, and actually offered a number of level camp spots and a meandering stream bed. As you might expect, the nicest section came to an end too quickly. Really, the whole trip ended too quickly. The drive considered, this was a great hike with diverse terrain, and Linda is a blast to hike with, so it could have gone on longer as far as I'm concerned (but I didn't have to drive back to Phoenix).

Another great loop, over a few new trails = another great day outside.

Thanks for driving down Linda!
Fauna
Fauna
Black Bear
_____________________
Matt
3 archives
Nov 17 2019
LindaAnn
avatar

 Guides 65
 Routes 407
 Photos 4,556
 Triplogs 1,379

41 female
 Joined Dec 24 2007
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Wrightson-Florida Peak loop, AZ 
Wrightson-Florida Peak loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 17 2019
LindaAnn
Hiking15.00 Miles 4,700 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles   8 Hrs   18 Mns   2.08 mph
4,700 ft AEG   1 Hour   5 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Matt suggested an alternate route to Wrightson, and it was mostly new territory for me, so I was interested. The road in was not too bad, lots of washboard, but generally in good shape. We got started on the Link Trail by around 0745 and quickly started gaining elevation. After about a half mile of Link, we got onto Gardner Canyon Trail and continued the climb. The trail is mostly in decent shape, and easy to follow, but overgrown in some places. Not much shade, but we were early enough in the morning to where it wasn't hot yet.

Once at Super Trail, we headed north and took a short break before heading up to Baldy Saddle. From there, we headed up to Wrightson. We saw 6 hikers between the saddle and summit--the only people we saw all day. Windy at the summit, so we only stayed for a few minutes. High clouds were moving in from the south, offering some welcome shade.

Once back down at the saddle, we continued north on the Crest Trail. Side to Mt Ian, or something near Mt Ian, as I am not sure we made it to the true summit. There seemed to be 3 high points, and we went to the 2 southern ones, but I have a feeling the high point to the north may have been the real summit. Close enough in this case. Continuing north on Crest, it was nice walking through the pines for short stretches.

At Florida Saddle, we headed east on Sawmill towards Florida Peak. The trail is very overgrown and brushy. As we neared the peak, we left the trail and headed up the west side of the peak. Fairly easy off trail hiking, mostly a matter of avoiding manzanita. Views from the summit were limited, but there were rocks to sit on for a snack break. Lots of ladybugs up there. On the way back down, we spotted a bear below us, but my attempt at a picture was a blurry mess. It sauntered off into the trees, not to be seen again.

Once back down at the saddle, we headed down Cave Canyon Trail, which is a gem of a trail. Narrow, but easy to follow, and pleasant scenery the entire way. The creek had water in the lower sections. Parts of this trail reminded me of Miller Canyon in the Huachucas. If I lived in this area, I'd probably spend a lot of time on this trail. Good way to finish out the hike.

Great loop on some lesser used trails. Good to hike with Matt again, and good conversation. Perfect weather for the entire day. It's about a 3 hour drive from Ahwatukee, but well worth it for this loop. Stats are averaged between my Route Scout, my Garmin, and Matt's watch.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation None
A couple of weeks past prime, but Cave Canyon trail was probably very colorful a few weeks ago.
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Mar 02 2019
fricknaley
avatar

 Guides 93
 Routes 388
 Photos 4,001
 Triplogs 3,191

46 male
 Joined Jun 20 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Old Pueblo Endurance Run 25 Miler, AZ 
Old Pueblo Endurance Run 25 Miler, AZ
 
Run/Jog avatar Mar 02 2019
fricknaley
Run/Jog25.71 Miles 3,462 AEG
Run/Jog25.71 Miles   5 Hrs   2 Mns   5.23 mph
3,462 ft AEG      7 Mns Break5 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
I ran the Old Pueblo 25 miler on a picture perfect morning. i had signed up for the 50 in 2016 and injured my achilles on the last long run of my training block and never got to do it.

the course is a combo of variably rough dirt roads, Arizona Trail, and other lesser known trails in the eastern Santa Ritas and really highlights the beautiful little section of Southern AZ that is the eastern Santa Ritas. Good old memories of AZT hikes with the boys.

i actually felt pretty bad on this day, randomly, but still tried to push my pace. i am usually pretty conservative in races and not very fast, so all things considered, i am happy with the pace i kept.

there was definitely still snow on the course and tons of water! about 10-15 creek crossings with water above mid-calves. some deeper!

ran a little bit with one of the dudes doing the 75 miler. otherwise easily found my own solitude.

awesome event, gorgeous day with a killer southern AZ mountain sunrise, and nice to finally get out on the OP course proper
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hi
2 archives
Oct 07 2017
Pivo
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 433
 Photos 4,656
 Triplogs 3,635

65 male
 Joined Mar 01 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Wrightson Gardner Canyon /Cave Canyon Loop, AZ 
Wrightson Gardner Canyon /Cave Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 07 2017
Pivo
Hiking12.89 Miles 4,192 AEG
Hiking12.89 Miles   7 Hrs   7 Mns   2.03 mph
4,192 ft AEG      46 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Nice loop hike to avoid heavy weekend traffic going up Wrightson, The Cave Canyon Trail is very overgrown and is in need of heavy maintenance. Lots of dead fall too.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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Feb 12 2017
AZHiker456
avatar

 Guides 28
 Routes 197
 Photos 7,418
 Triplogs 184

40 female
 Joined Nov 07 2015
 
Gardner Canyon Trail #143Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 12 2017
AZHiker456
Hiking10.56 Miles 3,708 AEG
Hiking10.56 Miles   4 Hrs      2.71 mph
3,708 ft AEG      6 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I’d routed up about 5-6 summits on the N/NE side of the Santa Ritas but, [after doing 13 miles on the treadmill the previous day… ](*,) ], my patience was paper thin and the off-trail nature of those summits wasn’t gonna cut it in terms the pace I needed to go & AEG I needed to log to let out the piss and vinegar. Thus, on a whim, I decided to head for the Gardner Canyon TH with the *intent of doing Mt. Wrightson, [*weather permitting… I’d gotten a very late start and was fully aware before committing to the hike that I’d have had only about 4 hours before the T-storms were supposed to hit the area].

I’d never been to the Gardner Canyon TH but have heard from a few folks who have that the road in can get pretty shitty, [but that a Forester ‘should be able to make it without hitting bottom… although in order to do so, I might need to get out in a few places and really scan terrain.’]. I also heard there were several creek crossings en route to the TH, [and that the bad parts of the road were primarily where it crosses the creeks].

All I can say is, the way in that I took was an absolute breeze. While a car / low clearance vehicle certainly isn’t going to make it, [thanks to the creek crossings], there were only 2 creek crossings as opposed to the several I was anticipating. While they definitely comprised the ‘worst’ parts of the road, [which was otherwise very, very good], they were by no means difficult… and they can’t hold a candle to the ruggedness of even the easy creek crossings that are required to get to the Bassett Peak TH…!].

By far the best part of the hike was in the very beginning where the trail crosses several creeks. The water was gushing, [which I’m guessing was the result of snow melt since it had been an unseasonably warm for several days prior to my hike]. In addition to the many beautiful mini-waterfalls / pools, there was also one place where the water had a beautiful, blue-green color [the ‘Havasupai blue’]. [ photo ]

After the waterfalls in the beginning, I focused on pushing the pace a little… while the T-storms were not supposed to hit for another 4 hours or so, the surrounding skies did NOT look good, and I was hoping to go fast enough and/or get enough AEG under my belt to work out the piss ‘n’ vinegar. Despite many stops in the beginning (to enjoy the waterfalls/pools, make a layer adjustment, then a ‘fluid adjustment’, then get around some deadfall, and finally take off a shoe in order to remove a sharp thorn…), I still managed to hold a respectable pace of 3+ miles per hour for the first 3 miles which took just under 57 minutes… however, shortly after that, what originally started as some fun log-hopping turned into an extremely annoying game of going under/over/around large trees that had fallen across the trail.

No sooner did the section with all of the downed trees let up when the trail must have changed direction, [likely to the North face], because the ‘footing’ almost instantly went from dirt/earthy ground to feet of snow. It literally came up to just above my knees in the places where I broke through, [which were surprisingly/luckily were very few]. After lifting my leg up in such places, I was unable to see the ground where I had sunk in, and I wasn’t in the mood to ‘dig’ for it.

As I approached Baldy Saddle, the wind had really started to pick up, and the storm clouds were closing in fast. I passed a trail sign indicating that it was less than 1 mile to Baldy Saddle, [I can’t remember the exact distance since I didn’t take a photo]. From the saddle, reaching the summit would take another 20-30 minutes in GOOD conditions]; and from what I could see of the trail leading up to the saddle, most of it was buried in 2+ feet of snow, which would easily double and possibly triple the time it would take me just to get to the saddle, relative to good conditions. Thus, with bad weather fast approaching, I decided to play it safe and turn back.

After returning to my vehicle, I was planning to do 1-2 quick summits in the area; and my planned parking spots even panned out beautifully. However, [still full of piss and vinegar – and with very dark clouds overhead], I bounded out of my vehicle and headed for the first peak, [or so I thought], which should have been about 1 mile, one-way. However, [after my GPS apps announced my 1 mile split], I hadn’t even started my ascent, and when I consulted with Route Scout to see what the hell was going on, it now informed me that the summit was 2 miles away. Apparently I’d headed 180 degrees in the opposite direction. :doh: With storms still approaching, [and by now daylight starting to run out], I decided to call it a day.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Heavy flow Heavy flow
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LET’S GO BRANDON! :y:
Aug 08 2015
BiFrost
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 372
 Photos 8,276
 Triplogs 1,006

51 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ 
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2015
BiFrost
Hiking18.72 Miles 5,008 AEG
Hiking18.72 Miles   10 Hrs   24 Mns   2.10 mph
5,008 ft AEG   1 Hour   29 Mns Break
 
1st trip
We drove up Friday night before the hike to car camp off Hwy 83 a mile or so on FS dirt road. Within 5 minutes of parking Border Patrol was there checking on us. He said sheriff saw a vehicle pull off the road and called it in thinking we might be a pickup vehicle for illegals. Told the BP we were car camping for the night and he left. At least we had great lighting show to enjoy some beverages.

Next morning we started at the Cave Canyon trailhead taking the Link trail over to AZT Santa Rita passage. From there followed AZT to junction with Walker Basin Trail which we ascended all the way to Super Trail. Kept an eye on the thunder clouds forming over Wrightson but they always moved off the top. We reached Baldy Saddle and headed up the final climb with the weather still cooperating. Once on top it was mostly clear while 4 thunderstorms raged around the peak so we had great break on top and even time for summit brew :D

Headed back down from the summit and past Baldy Saddle on the Crest Trail towards Florida Saddle. Whereas all the other trails were in good condition this trail needed some work with over growth, dead fall, and fire damage. Once down off the upper section the trail goes out of the burn and is decent rest of the way. It finally rained some at the end after threatening all day but not bad with only light rain. With the recent summer rains most of the creeks and drainages had water. Cave, Big Casa Blanca and Gardner all had very strong flow so despite the hot humid conditions finding water was never an issue.
Named place
Named place
Bear Spring
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
columbine, lupine, fairy duster

dry Baldy Spring Dry Dry
bone dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Bear Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
pipe was dripping but the tank was full with clear water. However, just below the spring nearby Big Casa Blanca Creek was flowing nicely from recent summer rains

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Medium flow Medium flow
great water from recent summer rains
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1 archive
Aug 08 2015
slowandsteady
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 966
 Triplogs 694

47 female
 Joined Jan 05 2012
 Phoenix,AZ
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ 
Big Casa Blanca-Cave Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2015
slowandsteady
Hiking18.72 Miles 5,008 AEG
Hiking18.72 Miles   10 Hrs   24 Mns   2.10 mph
5,008 ft AEG   1 Hour   29 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We only saw 7 other hikers and they were all between Baldy Saddle and the Summit!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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Apr 04 2015
John9L
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 174
 Photos 5,294
 Triplogs 1,639

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ 
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 04 2015
John9L
Hiking13.11 Miles 4,276 AEG
Hiking13.11 Miles
4,276 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We drove up on Friday night and car camped at the Trailhead off Gardner Canyon Road. We were both surprised at how many RV’s were parked along the road. This is a very active camping area.

We woke on Saturday morning and got situated for the hike and started hiking around 9am. The first mile follows an old road along the creek. This is a very enjoyable section and is relatively easy. The grade steepens after roughly a mile as you steadily gain elevation. This goes on for a really long time as we progressed toward the Florida Saddle and then followed the Crest Trail towards Mount Wrightson Summit.

The peak eventually comes into view as you descend to the saddle and then make the final push to the summit. There were only a handful of people up there and we took a break to eat some lunch and enjoy the views. From there we flew down the Link Trail and were back to the jeep around 4pm.

This was a great hike! I really enjoyed approaching Wrightson from the east. The Gardner Canyon Road is in great condition and is easy to follow. All the trails we followed were in good condition besides some random dead fall along the way. Wrightson is a beautiful summit and I might hike it again before summer sets in.
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Apr 04 2015
clairebear
avatar

 Photos 178
 Triplogs 158

39 female
 Joined Oct 26 2011
 Tempe, AZ
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ 
Mt Wrightson from Gardner Canyon Rd, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 04 2015
clairebear
Hiking13.11 Miles 4,276 AEG
Hiking13.11 Miles
4,276 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
We rolled in on Friday night under the cover of darkness. All the campsites on the side of the access road were occupied and I think I've never seen so many RV's in one area before. I guess we missed the memo that it was going to be so crowded with campers :? . We finally pulled up to the trailhead and just camped there. The next morning it was cool to see the area for the first time, since it was already dark the night before when we got there.

The first part of the hike follows along a creek and is pretty easy so I was able to make good time for this portion. The terrain is fairly lush and green.
Further up the trail gets steeper as we enter the uphill portion. The switchbacks were far from steep so it was pretty easy. I was able to make good time ( except for when I was climbing over the many large fallen tree obstacles in my path LOL ) The terrain was so beautiful and ever-changing so I really enjoyed this whole hike.

Another bonus was the fact that we didn't pass any people until we got to the Saddle. Since the saddle is a convergence of a couple different trails there are a lot more people from here to the summit. This portion of the hike also offers the first major view of the peak. It looks so impressive and imposing- almost impossible looking to reach the summit.

At the summit we enjoyed a quick lunch with awesome views. I glanced thought the thickest summit register that I maybe have ever seen and we commenced our decent. My shoes were starting to rub a bit so I need to remember to get some mole skin for the future.

~Wrightson is a beautiful place I can see why so many people enjoy this hike. ^^^ I'd definitely like to check out some of the other trails in this area. ~
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Dec 05 2014
wha
avatar

 Photos 88
 Triplogs 338

male
 Joined Feb 10 2012
 Arizona
Temporal Loop, AZ 
Temporal Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Dec 05 2014
wha
Backpack29.00 Miles 5,500 AEG
Backpack29.00 Miles3 Days         
5,500 ft AEG19 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
A loop backpack in the Santa Rita mountains.

Day 1 - Yesterday the weather report said 20% chance of rain over the next few days. This morning it said 80%. I need more experience in the rain so I didn't cancel my plans.

Started late at the Gardner Canyon trailhead of Temporal Gulch AZT4 and headed south. After a couple miles had lunch and then continued on to Walker Basin where I camped for the night. Lots of litter and TP. A small pool at the base of the dam seemed stagnant, but a short distance up the drainage there was a clear flowing pool. Saw 3 deer, no people today.

Day 2 - Woke to rain at 3am. It went from rain to drizzle and back for the next 12 hours. The first hour or so down the road was fine. Then I started up Temporal Gulch #595. What a miserable several hours. The trail in this section crosses the creek again and again and is hard to follow at times. Some spots are badly eroded, and much of it is overgrown. Most of the time was just a drizzle, but every time I had to push through trees, grass and brush I'd get drenched with a cold bucket of water. Finally I wised up and would whack them with my hiking poles and knock off the worst of it. In nice weather this part would be really interesting along the creek, with many pools and little waterfalls.

Topo maps show a tunnel at Wildcat mine. I thought I'd duck in to get out of the rain for a bit, but I couldn't find anything. Just a large tailing pile, and maybe a buried tunnel above it. After Wildcat the trail was in much better shape. Lots of bear scat though. And I mean lots.

It was only midafternoon but I decided to stop at Josephine saddle and camp. I was rather chilled after being soaking wet for so long. Time to dry off and warm up. Saw no people today.

Day 3 - Backtracked to McBeth Spring for water, then started up the Super Trail around the south side of Wrightson. I kept hearing voices and finally stopped and listened for a while. It was so still and quiet I was hearing workers over on Hopkins.

My original plan was to camp near Baldy Saddle and then hike to the top in the morning. But the short slow day yesterday messed that up. At Gardner Canyon Trail I headed down. The sun finally burned through the overcast and I stopped for lunch on a flat area with a great view to the south and enjoyed the warmth.

At the TH I took the link trail over to the Cave Creek road and followed that back to my car. Finally saw a few people camping in the last couple miles.
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Oct 11 2014
chumley
avatar

 Guides 83
 Routes 692
 Photos 16,127
 Triplogs 1,618

48 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Cave Gardner Loop, AZ 
Cave Gardner Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 11 2014
chumley
Hiking12.91 Miles 4,263 AEG
Hiking12.91 Miles   6 Hrs   49 Mns   2.50 mph
4,263 ft AEG   1 Hour   39 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Had to run an errand with Team Buford™ to wine country to pick some grapes. And Jon had a car-camping birthday thing to do. So I tagged along but made them do a hike too.

I needed the county high-point. None of us had ever hiked Wrightson.

The east side is an absolute dream. No fees. Not a single car at the trailhead. Didn't see a single other person all day, except a few at the peak who had come up from the more popular west side.

There was running water absolutely everywhere. It was a real nice surprise. The top of the Cave trail gets really steep, and it was a grind up to Florida saddle. The traverse over the Crest trail to Wrightson was a bit more rolling, with some downhills for a break. Some juvenile aspen have started to sprout, and they were just beginning to turn.

Made it to the summit in 4 hours, and took a short break before heading back down trying to beat sunset. The trip down was a relentless descent. It looked to be a bit more exposed and I think it would be tough to come up this way during any kind of sunny/hot season. There's a stretch of trail where the ponderosa is really making a comeback. It's remarkable to see.

The mileages marked on the signs around the mountain are wrong for both Cave and Gardner due to both of them now having closed sections of road leading to the trailheads -- essentially the trailheads for each trail are now just farther away than they were before. No biggie, as both of them parallel their respective creeks and the sounds of flowing water is always refreshing.

A nice night at camp was followed up by a morning in Sonoita gathering grapes and loading a 55-gallon drum into my truck for the drive back to the pub--with a stop in Tucson for lunch :))

We stopped at DQ at picacho peak to load up on some nitrates but the line was 15 deep so we just got back in the car and kept going :(

I've never hiked Wrightson from Madera Canyon, but I have a tough time believing it's any better than the east side ascent. And making a loop out of it is just an added bonus!
Flora
Flora
Arizona Grape
Meteorology
Meteorology
Fire Burn Area & Recovery
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
New growth aspens up top just starting to yellow. Some sycamores in the lower drainages are beginning to turn. No other colors yet.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Baldy Spring Dripping Dripping
No flow from the pipe, but a little in the trough, and a nice deep pool of water sheltered underground next to the spring box where the pipe comes from.

dry Cave Creek Dry Dry
Flow had gone underground by this point, and downstream.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Medium flow Medium flow
Great flow. Could hear the cascades several minutes away.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Medium flow Medium flow
Great flow in the creek. Probably at least 5cfs.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Upper Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Light flow Light flow
Perhaps aided by rain last week, but drainage contained a nice stream running down the mountain. 1-gallon + per minute.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Upper Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Light flow Light flow
Light flow, small cascades, plenty of water to filter. Much better option than Baldy Spring! At least on this day. Good summer monsoon season may have made the mountain unusually wet however.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Wrightson Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Dripping from cliff face and running down the trail across 2 switchbacks. Looks like this is a frequent occurrence from surrounding flora, though the true source is unknown. No problem to get half a gallon in a minute here.
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33s over 45s
1 archive
average hiking speed 2.21 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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