Hiking with John and Pam – Tucson, AZ
With most of Betsy’s maintenance items out of the way, it was time to have some fun. At our happy hour Pam recited a list of trails to enjoy around Tucson, and we were geared up to go hiking with them again. Many of you know John and Pam of Oh the places they go are avid hikers whose boots have passed over hundreds (probably thousands) of miles of trails. We hiked with them last summer in Colorado and were looking forward to trekking with them again here in Tucson.
We initially chose two trails – Seven Falls Trail in Sabino/Bear Canyon, and the scenic Mt. Wasson Peak Trail at Saguaro National Park.
Seven Falls Trail, Sabino Canyon
The Seven Falls Trail is accessed via Bear Canyon Trail. The hike begins at the parking lot of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in the eastern foothills of the Santa Catalina mountain range, northeast of Tucson. As the name implies, the reward at the end of this trail is Seven Falls where the water cascades down a steep ravine creating an enchanting sequence of falls and pools. We followed Bear Canyon Trail for about 2 miles and then continued a little more than 2 more miles to reach the falls.
When we settled on this hike we hadn’t considered the recent rain and snow. The trail crisscrossed over Sabino Creek seven times and the water was high, making our crossings quite challenging. At the first two we removed our boots and socks to wade across the frigid water. Fortunately John was prepared and brought a towel for everyone to dry their feet with – thanks, John!
John was our leader and he searched for drier crossings several times, but alas there were none. So after the second crossing we just gave up and our boots and socks were soaked the rest of the hike.
Other than the abundance of cacti and other Sonoran Desert plants, it felt like we were not in the desert as we enjoyed the sound of rushing water during most of the hike. After crossing the frigid water several times the trail rose up the side of Bear Canyon, then came back down to Seven Falls.
The exposed granitic rocks were quite a sight, crossed by mineral veins but slippery when wet.
At the end of the trail we were rewarded with the sights and sounds of the falls, and we relaxed for lunch next to one of the pools. Off came the boots and socks as we exposed our legs to the sun to warm them back up.
The return trip was much shorter as we gave up on trying to stay dry and just plowed across the water crossings. Our legs were double-tired after 8+ miles of hiking with heavy, wet boots. But despite the minor inconvenience it was a great day!
Mt. Wasson Peak, Saguaro National Park
The second hike John and Pam led us on was to the top of Wasson Peak. Mt. Wasson is located 15 miles west of the city in the Tucson Mountain Range, and is the highest point in the west unit of Saguaro National Park. They had hiked this trail before, and due to the excellent views at the top they were happy to repeat the trek with us. It’s a great way to experience Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert.
There are several trails leading to the summit, and we chose to follow the King Canyon, Hugh Norris and Sendero Esperanza trails, then we looped back around to the Gould Mine Trail to give us a 7.8 mile workout. The trails are all within the Saguaro National Park, and we walked amidst the Sonoran Desert ecosystem with full displays of giant Saguaro, Prickly Pear, Barrel Cactus and Cholla, to name just a few.
Pam has great interest in Crested Saguaros and she tries to see as many as she can when in Arizona. If you don’t know, a Crested Saguaro is one where the growing tip produces a fan-like form referred to a crest or cristate. They are very rare, but Pam spotted one with her eagle-eyes on this hike. If you’d like to see more of her Crested Saguaro photos click here.
This trail is moderate with some rocky and steep sections, and we followed several switchbacks as we approached the peak.
A history tidbit: Wasson Peak is named in honor of John Wasson, the first editor of the Tucson Citizen newspaper in the late 1800’s.
This hike is definitely worth doing. The view of the valley, surrounding mountains and Tucson is spectacular from the peak. Because of its accessibility and outstanding views we met several other hikers on this trail.
We also came across some desert blooms:
What do you do after a long and rewarding hike? Have mexican food! Dave and Sue joined us that evening for dinner at El Charro, one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in Tucson.