Last Saturday we drove about 120 miles east from Why to Tucson, AZ. We visited Tucson two years ago and found it to be pleasant (for a city) and surrounded by good hiking areas. On Sunday we had the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers, Andrew and Becky (Rosie the Riveted). We met them previously during our stay in Bolder City, NV where we did some hiking together. We met at the Hub Restaurant and Creamery in downtown Tucson and shared some great conversation and a good meal. The conversation was so good we forgot to get any photos!
One of the main reasons for our visit to Tucson was to have the motorhome serviced at Premier RV. During our last visit Premier did some repairs and enhancements for us and we were please with their work. So, since the motorhome was in need of some routine yearly maintenance (oil change, etc.), we decided to return to Tucson.
Once the maintenance was complete it was time for some hiking. Our friends, Hans and Lisa, wrote a blog last year about a hike they did in the Tortolita Mountains that looked interesting, so off we headed to check it out.
The Tortolitas are a small group of mountains north of Tucson and just west of the Santa Catalina Mountains. There are almost thirty miles of trails here, many of them beginning near the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort. We couldn’t find the trailhead at first so we drove into the resort and asked the girl at the gate about it. Turns out she had a map of the trails for us and directed us to the parking area for the trailhead. Many of the trails connect to each other, so you can choose the length and difficulty you want by combining different trails. We followed the same loop as Hans and Lisa and hiked almost nine miles on a loop made up of the Wild Burro, Upper Javelina, Wild Mustang, and Wild Burro trails.
We began the hike on the Wild Burro Trail that goes along flat terrain next to a wash.
After about a half mile, we turned on to the Upper Javalina Trail and began to gain some elevation.
Suddenly John had a bit of a scare when something moved across the trail right in front of him. It turned out to be a Gila Monster over a foot long! The Gila Monster is the only venomous lizard native to the United States, but its sluggish nature means it represents little threat to humans. This guy waddled across a rock and under a bush.
After that bit of excitement, we continued up the trail through a series of switchbacks.
As we gained in altitude great views were all around us.
As we hiked, we passed a number of the elusive Crested Saguaro Cactus.
The trail continued upward until we were at about 4,000 feet. Fortunately a nice breeze kept the temperatures very pleasant as we climbed.
This area is filled with Saguaro Cacti and each one seems to be unique.
Finally, as we hiked the Wild Mustang Trail we began to descent back down toward the Wild Burro Trail, the path that would take us back to the trailhead.
Returning back down the Wild Burro Trail, we arrived back at the parking area. After all that hiking, Pam spotted one of the nicest Crested Saguaros located right next to the Jeep.
The next day we drove back north of Tucson to Catalina State Park. We didn’t want to take a long hike right after the one the previous day, but Pam had read about an interesting Crested Saguaro not far from the trailhead. So we hiked the Canyon Loop Trail, a three mile loop, and were successful in the search for the Saguaro.
We enjoyed both of these hikes. They represent just a tiny fraction of all the good trails in the area. Tomorrow we plan to meet some fellow bloggers and do a hike we completed during our previous visit to Tucson.
More on that later . . .