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Seven Falls and Cactus Forest Trail Hikes

Time for a little catch up blogging.  I am a little behind writing about our hiking adventures.  We had set goals of hiking once a week.  But like with many things, life has a way of modifying your goals.  Fortunately for us, the modifications were all for good things.  Old friends visiting, family visiting, and us out and about.  It has been a wonderful January here in the Sonoran Desert.  While the temperatures here have been lower than normal, really hard to say anything when I am reading about the upcoming winter storms in the midwest.  It has been great weather for hiking.  A little crisp the first couple miles, then perfect temperatures the rest of the hike.

It has been some years since we had hiked up Bear Canyon to Seven Falls and we thought it was about time for us to try it again.  The Seven Falls trail starts from one of two different places; the Sabino Canyon visitors center Fia theBear Canyon Road.  Or from the Bear Canyon Trailhead at the end of Bear Canyon Road.

Our previous venture started from the visitor center. While handy, it is a long flat walk along the road, or via the shuttle to the Seven Falls trailhead.  This time, we started from the Bear Canyon trailhead.  There is a nice parking area at the end of the dirt road.  The highlight of this route was the water along the trail into the park.  We had to ford the creek in a couple places to get started.

Though the trail ascends up just under a 1000ft up, it is a gradual climb. It progresses up and into Bear Canyon along Bear Creek and through the Saguaros and rocks of Sabino Canyon Recreation area.  For the Sonoran Desert, fall arrives late in November and into early December.  The day off ur hike, the colors were magnificent. The Sycamores and the Cottonwoods were brilliant yellow.

The trail crosses Bear Creek so many times we lost track.  The water was flowing, but no so high to prevent crossing.  There were usually a trail of stepping rocks, or narrow gaps to straddle.  I think we were both proud to have finished the hike with out either of us so much as getting a shoe wet!

Our arrival at the falls proved to be everything it is said to be.  We are having a wet winter here and the water was running down all the falls and into all the pools.  It was just the place to find a great lunch spot.

Lunch was at a fantastic spot at one of the larger bottom pools.  Even up here the leaves were changing .

The return trip was jus as beautiful, plus were descending:) Back through the canyon and across the creek countless times again.

The sun really highlighted the needles on the cactus and the blooms of the desert grasses.

The cooler winter months here are our chance to explore the flatter an lower areas of the Sonoran Desert before it gets too hot.  The northern portions of Saguaro National Park near Broadway road are a maze of interconnecting trails.  You can basically make any route you want by combining multiple shorter trails.  There is, however, one trail that runs almost the entire north/south length, from the Mica View trailhead off Broadway to Old Spanish Trial road.  The Cactus Forest Trail cuts right through the center of The Cactus Forest Loop road.  With the comfortable temperatures we have been having in January, we thought it was time to do some exploring.

We started from the north at Mica View trailhead and headed south.  Our goals to make the mid-point and a purported water fall.

The trail was well-groomed, flat and scenic.  The area certainly lives up to the name of its host park!

This area of Tucson was once cattle country and there are countless remnants and reminders of this era.  It is also an area rich in limestone.   This limestone was baked in kilns and converted to lime to help keep the dust down on the old dirt streets of Tucson.  The kilns took lots of wood, mesquite, and it was taking the vegetation from the ranchers.  Eventually, the ranchers prevailed and the kilns were closed.  We found two of these, and even some remnants of the snow we had the first week of Janurary.

At about the 3 mile point of so from the trailhead is a small branch trail that says Kiln Falls.  This was what we were looking for, so off we went, through some dry washes, up and around the big rocks.  About half a mile in, we found the falls.  A quiet area of piled rocks and tickling springs.  Hardly a waterfall, even after the rains we have had.  WE could only imagine the water during monsoon season.   But it did prove to be the perfect place for lunch!

We saw tons of big Saguaros and during the hike back.  The great thing about the flat hikes, and what we enjoy most about them is how easy it is to walk on them.  It gives a chance to really look around enjoy our surroundings.

A real highlight of our hike was finding a crested Saguaro.  I have talked about them in previous blogs.  They are very rare, of all the Saguaro on the National Park, it is said there may only be 50 crested ones.  The one we found was well off the trail, we attributed our fortunes to finding one to the flat hike and looking around at our surroundings.

A great hike, we highly recommend, but only in the cooler months of the year.

 

One thought on “Seven Falls and Cactus Forest Trail Hikes

  • susancrane10
    susancrane10
    January 26, 2019 at 11:13 am

    So Proud of you too! You look great and I’m so happy you’re located in our beautiful Tucson area. While I am waiting for the mountains to turn pink, you guys are out Bustin’ up the trails. I think I need some encouragement.

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