This week I drove further up the Catalina highway on Mt. Lemon, past Soldier trail, past Babad Do’ag trail, and up to the trail head for Bug Spring trail, which just so happens to start near the campground where the Soldier trail ends at. Bug Spring trail runs through three very different terrains. The first zone is not as nice because there are lots of burned trees from a fire several years ago, but the views are still great. Even still, it doesn’t take long until the trail climbs up to a ridge that it runs along. This is one of those amazing places where large rocks are piled on top of each other, and you also get to see sweeping vistas of the Catalina mountains all around you. Then the trail descends into a valley filled with Ponderosa pines which has a different feel altogether.
Note that Bug Spring trail is one that mountain bikers use a lot. They normally are dropped off at the top of the trail at Bear Canyon campground and ride down, often going rather fast. So you need to keep your ears open for bikers headed down who may not see you (though I only saw three while I was out for several hours on the trail).
Here is the Google Earth video of my 7.3 mile round trip hike which totaled about 1500 feet of climbing, but note that I stopped short of descending down into Bear Canyon campground (GPX file available here):
And here is the elevation profile:
As I drove up the Catalina highway, I stopped at the Babad Do’ag turnout and took this nice shot that shows the moon setting on Tucson:
And this is right after I started going up the trail and looked back at the campground where the Soldier trail ends.
This shows the dead and burned out trees along the lower portion of the trail:
And this time I took along my Nikon D80 DSLR. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements ($68 on Amazon) to stitch together multiple photos and make panoramas, as well I used their tool that allows you to erase the shadow of myself taking the pictures!
But the panoramic view is what is most amazing. This shows the Catalina highway as it winds it way up the mountain.This is a closeup using my telephoto lens:Zooming in further, you can see what the rocks look like on the left side of that panorama: