I’ve previously hiked the Pontatoc Ridge trail, so this time I thought I try out the regular Pontatoc trail that continues up the Pontatoc canyon. The canyon is one of the more beautiful of the Catalina mountains in part because the Pontatoc ridge is so amazing. It’s also amazing how once you leave Tucson and climb higher into the mountains the more it seems you’ve entered another world altogether.
The only issue with this trail is that it comes to an end a bit too short. It ends at the confluence of two washes and since you are inside the canyon, the view is a bit limited. I chose to continue on up the left wash and then East up to the ridge that lies between the two washes. This gave a nice view but there was no trail that I could see. However, on looking at Google Earth more closely, it looks like there is a faint trail that starts on the wash to the right and goes more directly up the ridge. Also note that the map posted at the trail head (shown below) shows the trail going farther, so maybe I just missed the trail. Does anyone know more about this?
The hike was a 6 mile round trip and I climbed up 1760 feet above the parking lot. Here is the Google Earth video of my hike (full GPX file available here):
And here is the Google Earth profile of the hike:
This is the map posted at the trail head:
And here is the iPhone video I took:
And these are the photos I took (starting with a panoramic view of Pontatoc ridge itself):
Next is a pile of rocks I came across near the top of my hike on the ridge. Clearly, other people had been here before:
And this is the panoramic view from the ridge:
This is as I came back down, after the sun had climbed higher in the sky:
This week I returned to the Carrie Nation trail at Madera Canyon and continued up the ridge to the road that leads up to the Multiple Mirror Telescope at the top of Mt. Hopkins. The MMT is part of the Smithsonian’s Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory and operated jointly with the University of Arizona. This is a 12 mile round trip with an elevation gain of 3200 feet over the parking lot. There was quite a lot of bear scat along the trail though I didn’t see any bears myself. Still, given the amount of scat, you shouldn’t be surprised if you do see bears. They had apparently been eating lots of Juniper berries which are all over the place. Here is the Google Earth video of this hike (GPX file available here):
And here is Google Earth’s elevation profile:
The maps I’ve seen of trails in Madera Canyon don’t include Mt. Hopkins, so I overlaid one map on top of my actual Google Earth GPS track:
This is the short video I took at the top when I reached the MMT:
And here are the photos I took:
The triangular mountain in the center is called Elephant Head butte:
I really liked the nice picnic area the astronomers have for themselves up there:
After being closed for the summer, Picacho Peak State Park opened this last Saturday. Even though I have previously hiked up Hunter Trail to the saddle, I didn’t realize that the trail continued on to the summit. So when I saw that the trail does indeed go to the top, I decided I would need to check out the full trail. I took the Sunset trail which is labeled as a 6.2 mile round trip with 1600 feet climb to the top. Sounded easy enough given I had just hiked Blacketts Ridge trail once again the previous weekend at Sabino Canyon which is similar in length and height. Unfortunately for me, Picacho Peak is considerably steeper and exercised some muscles in my legs that I’m not used to using. Basically, being overweight at 255 pounds, I wore myself out on the hike up and my legs had a hard time making it back to my car. So let this be a lesson. Not all trails are equal. And anyone can make a mistake so its good to be prepared for the unexpected. I wished I had carried in more water and had some energy bars with me.
It was over a year ago, when I weighed in at 330 pounds, that I tried hiking up Blacketts Ridge trail and couldn’t make it. I determined after that failure that I just had to lose weight. Well I’ve lost 75 pounds, but that just isn’t enough for some trails. And so now I know I need to lose about 50 more pounds!
Anyway, here’s the Google Earth video of my hike and the elevation profile (GPX file available here):
And the iPhone video I took from the summit:
And here is the map that is available on the park website. Note it is NOT to scale:
Finally, here are the photos I took while on my hike. I had wanted to get some photos of the peak from different angles, but after I wore myself out, I was in no mood to get more pictures.
While they have cables along the steep part of trail,, some are nearly straight up, so they are a bit intimidating, especially when you’re carrying the extra weight. Other people on the trail though seemed to fly up and down these so clearly some people have no trouble.
UPDATE 9/23/13: I was interviewed this last Friday by the local NBC TV station doing a piece on rattlesnakes. You can see the video here.
I often go hiking on the trails at the East end of Speedway, as there are quite a few trails to pick from, all are pretty easy, and the trail head is one of the closer ones to where I live. I also like going on the Three Tank Trail as it isn’t as steep as the Douglas Springs Trail and has a lot less people on it. This time though, after getting out to where you turn south to see Bridal Wreath Falls, I instead turned north on Ernie’s Falls trail which leads out of the park. The trail down the mountain is quite rocky and is more like a narrow road for four wheel drive vehicles, but it leads down to the Tanque Verde Ranch, founded in 1868, and the views are a pleasant change from the ones I’m used to seeing.
I’ve hiked a lot, but I usually don’t see certain animals. I’ve never seen a mountain lion or a Javelina while hiking, but I have seen a couple Gila Mounsters and about three rattlesnakes. But this last hike I saw FIVE rattlesnakes and the previous week a tarantula! I got some video of them so be sure to check out my iPhone video of the hike:
Here is a map of the 8.5 mile trail (1060 feet from bottom to top) I went on (GPX file available here):
And the Google Earth elevation profile:
And since I’ve been on this trail so many times, I only added one new panorama, taken on my way down Ernie’s Falls trail:
When I previously went on the Green Mountain Trail, I noticed a side trail from the saddle that heads out to Guthrie Mountain, which is the last large peak in the East end of the Catalina mountains. So I decided to do that hike again, but this time heading all the way to Guthrie mountain. GPX file of my hike is available here. Here is the iPhone video I took from the top:
And here is the Google Earth elevation profile of the full 7 mile hike (1290 feet from bottom to top):
And a few panoramas I took: