Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon, on the south central side of the Catalina Mountains, is a Tucson native and tourist destination. It is part of the Coronado National Forest.

Most people that visit the Canyon do so via the shuttle bus service, as no cars are allowed. The bus travels up the canyon around four miles, makes nine stops, and turns around. It crosses the Sabino Creek nine times; most of the time the creek is dry. Today, it was running but not flooding.

For most visitors, they stay near the pavement. For a few, the back country is the destination. The Sabino Canyon Trail climbs north up a set of switchbacks for around 0.5 miles. It then undulates for two miles to the east fork of the canyon, meeting the Arizona Trail (elevation 3760 feet). The section to the east meets the Bear Canyon Trail and after six miles crossed the Catalina Highway. The section to the west climbs to Romero Pass (elevation 6080 feet). The section continuing north heads toward Spencer Peak and crosses the Catalina Highway at an elevation of 7920 feet after seven more miles.

What is the most interesting about Sabino Canyon is the variety of vegetation. The water gives opportunity for some dense vegetation. Cacti take a back seat to other plant families including sycamore, willow, oak and cottonwood.

Congested at the start, once I hiked the 2.5 miles to the AZ Trail junction, I did not see a single person. I needed to make two tricky stream crossings, one without getting wet, but the second, just short of Hutch's Pool, required wading.

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