My time in Tucson is dwindling quickly. After several rainy and then frigid days, including quite the snow storm to ring in 2019, the sun and warmth have made a return. BEAUTIFUL day for a 7 mile hike back in to Saguaro East.
Up the Douglas Springs Trail from the parking area, which was packed. Seems everyone is happy for the return of sun and warmth. Lovely 65 degrees. Into the wilderness I head. Desert Springs is clearly one of the most popular trails in this part of the park. It’s wide, hard-packed and as it heads uphill its mostly “stepped.” At one time I’d contemplated trekking up to Tanque Verde Peak, or Mica Mountain, which you see in the distance. However, both those are well in to the wilderness and the shortest routes I could come up with were near or over 20 miles. Even if I was in shape to make that hike, there’s not near enough daylight this time of year and let me tell you, it is COLD once the sun goes down.
Everyone likes a nice hike. Even the horses… though I’m sure they’d much rather be doing it without having to lug the women up this trail. These were not the only two I encountered.
After about 2 miles the terrain eases up, though still rises steadily in the direction of the peaks, into what would most certainly be a mountain meadow if, you know, this wasn’t the desert. Here I made the right turn, leaving the Douglas Springs Trail for the Three Tanks Trail. Suddenly you find yourself now on a much less traveled path. It’s wide enough only for one at a time, desert grasses overgrowing, with no more man-made steps on the uphill and you feel like you could be hundreds of miles from anywhere.
That is until you come up over the rise and the entire valley is laid out before you.
Another mile or so and you come to Steel Tank, one of the three denizens for which the trail is named. Somehow I missed the Mica Tank, and the third is up the trail beyond where I joined it.
This is also the intersection with the Carillo Trail onto which I now transitioned. It was a bit tricky to find as it actually heads off behind the tank where you cross through a wash. Luckily there were hoof prints to lead me.
Carrillo Trail takes you down, far more gently than Douglas Springs brought you up, along a pretty spectacular wash that I just couldn’t capture well in photos, to Wild Horse Canyon. Shortly past Garwood Dam, the reason for which I’m not quite sure, but it’s there nonetheless, I made a hard right on to Garwood Trail for the final 1.75 miles back to the trailhead. Along this trail exists one of the most spectacular sights you are likely to see anywhere in this part of the country. I was a bit surprised it was not cordoned off for protection but there it was not 10 feet off the Garwood Trail. The extremely rare and oft sought after…
Broccoli Saguaro (Carnegiea Gigantea Broccolinis). Sometimes also called the Afro Saguaro.
This was a great hike. Nothing too strenuous, with just enough elevation to be a rigorous few hours and not a second of which is not absolutely stunning scenery.
Here’s the Relive vid…..