Amazingly enough, I'd never been in SNPW, and we wanted to get a couple of hours hiking in on the way to Tucson. Being midafternoon on a weekend, we skipped the cherry-dipp'd line up the chains at Picacho, and I wasn't really keen on hiking straight uphill into a Catalina burn area, so I threw a bunch of SNP routes in the app and headed out. We spent a little too much time at the pool in the morning to have time for Wasson ... save that for another day ... but managed to put together a nice little loop from the north.
There was a little bit too much sandy wash hiking for me as we headed into the park, but the return half was much more pleasant. It's a bit dreary out there for spring. The lack of fall and winter rains is returning a whole lot of meh. Still a nice couple of hours outside.
After living in Tucson for 60 years I am finally going to do some trails in Saguaro National Park West. I actually did one hike here back in 1970 to Wasson peak on a Moonlight hike while in High school. Today's hike was from the El Camino Del Cerro Trail Head. Started out early morning on the Thunderbird Trail hoping to be back before 11:00 to try and beat the heat. After hiking a lot in the Saguaro National Park east these trails seemed a lot more rugged and less traveled (at least the ones in the SNP East lower park). The Thunderbird trail after the Thunderbird Mine is really washed out from the rains this summer, wasn't difficult to navigate though. Stopped by the Gila Monster Mine to check it out but didn't spend much time, after all it is just a hole in the ground (Learned a lot more about it on the internet after the hike). The Thunderbird trail heads out to the north from the Gila Monster Mine and continues up a gradual slope to the top of a ridge about 40 feet up. It is so nice to climb to a ridge that isn't 1000+ feet up like in Payson last week. at this ridge the Brittlebush Trail heads off to the west up to another small ridge. The brittlebush trail is not marked at the junction with the Thunderbird and can easily be missed if not looking for it, I know, I missed it but thanks to my GPS I didn't have to go but a couple of feet before noticing it. From the ridge the trail heads down to the eastern most tributary of the Picture Rocks Wash and stays in that wash all the way to the Ironwood Forest Trail. The trail is signed at the junction of the Brittlebush and Picture Rocks Wash and also at the junction with the Ironwood Forest Trail. Since the washes had just run from the rains the day before the walking in the Washes was fairly easy. From the Picture Rocks wash I took the Ironwood Forest trail to the Cam-Boh Trail. This is a very easy trail to follow and appears to be a little more used than the Brittlebush Trail. This trail goes through a "forest" of Ironwood trees that seem to be fairly young, I did not see any large trees. I was enjoying the scenery so mush that I was not watching the trail and almost stepped on a Western Diamond Back rattle snake. I managed to not step on it somehow and stopped to get some pictures of it. It was nice enough to let me take a few pictures and I went on my way reminding myself to watch the trail. The Ironwood Forest trail ends up following a wash the last half mile to the Cam-Boh Trail. from the Cam-Boh trail I head up another wash to the Ringtail trail that follows, you guessed it another wash. I took the Ringtail Trail to the Picture Rocks Road and then hiked this trail to south to the Picture Rocks Wash. The Ringtail Trail follows the Wash for about .2 miles before exiting on to a real trail to the West of the wash. This trail is very easy walking and skirts around the west side of Picture Rocks Peak. From this trail the Yuma Mine can be seen to the Southeast. This is one of two mines in the park that at one time were very profitable. Once at the Picture Rocks Wash I head up stream to the signed junction of the Cactus Canyon Trail. The cactus canyon Trail heads south but I only stay on it until the signed Coyote Pass Trail. The Coyote Pass Trail heads east up about 40 feet to the pass and then down the other side to the Gila Monster Trail. I did not have a GPS route so I was not sure if the Gila Monster Trail existed (It was not listed on the Park map but was at least called out on the HAZ site but no GPS route). I continued down the Coyote Pass Trail until I figures I did .8 miles (about 20 minutes) and decided that the Gila Monster Trail didn't exist so I headed back up stream and crossed over a small ridge that would take me back to the Cactus Canyon Trail. Once over that ridge I came across a trail and figures it was the Gila Monster Trail so I followed that down to where the Coyote Trail joined it. I went up the Coyote Trail about 100 yards and came to the point where I turned around. I was just 100 yards short of my destination when I turned around. From here I returned via the Gila Monster Trail and saw a sign for the Abington Trail. I saw this trail on one of the park maps but was not listed anywhere else. This trail will take you to a Trail head along Abington Road I assume, will have to check this out on another trip. Once back on the Cactus Canyon Trail I head north on this trail to where it meets the Coyote pass Trail and return to the trail head back along the Cactus Canyon Trail and Thunderbird Trail. Great hike but it was getting a little warm by the time I hit the cactus Canyon Trail the second time.
average hiking speed 2.77 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.