Chiricahua & The Sonoran Desert Hiking Tour
Assembly Point: Tuscon, AZ
|Tour Cost: $2,395
(includes all lodging, all meals, park entrance fees, van shuttles, leaders, trail maps & narratives)
Two long-time Timberline hikers from southern Arizona got our attention as they raved about hiking in and around their home in Tucson. Once back to our homes in wintry Colorado, we checked out their claims and quickly discovered the remarkable wealth of hiking trails in that area. This includes four mountain ranges that essentially ring the city, Saguaro National Park and Chiricahua National Monument.
Ever vigilant of opportunities to extend our season beyond the traditional summer months, we’ve created this new 6-day tour.
We’ll start our hiking trip on Day 1 in the eastern half of Saguaro National Park on the aptly named Cactus Forest Trail. Besides the many large, mature saguaros and other species of cacti we’ll see along the way, the Cactus Forest Trail is a good introduction to the lowlands of the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson (5 miles).
On Day 2, we’ll visit Chiricahua National Monument. Set aside by Congress in 1924, Chiricahua is the site of a massive volcanic eruption 27 million years ago that formed a thick layer of volcanic ash and pumice that has since eroded into many remarkable and varied rock formations. During our visit to Chiricahua, we will hike a patchwork of park trails commonly known as the Heart of Rocks Loop that passes many of these formations such as Balanced Rock, Rhyolite Canyon, and Echo Park (10 miles). We’re headed west on Day 3 to the Tucson Mountains and their highest point, Wasson Peak. We’ll ascend Wasson Peak via the moderate Hugh Norris Trail, then descend on the King Canyon trail whose terminus is conveniently located very near the famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (9 miles).
The Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson are our destination on Day 4, specifically the Kent and Big Springs loop. This hike passes a series of springs that create an unusually lush riparian area with large numbers of birds and wildlife and large Arizona sycamore and walnut trees (5 miles).
Don’t let the five-minute drive to the Day 5 trailhead fool you, on this day we plan to challenge 7,200’ Mt. Kimball in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Climbing steadily (and sometimes steeply) more than 4,000 vertical feet, our ascent starts out with excellent views of Finger Rock before reaching Linda Vista Saddle slightly more than half way to Mt. Kimball (a great turnaround point for those desiring a less strenuous outing). Those electing to go all the way can rest assured the views are worth the effort, as will be a well-earned dinner that evening back at the Lodge on the Desert (10 miles).
We’ll head back to the Santa Catalinas the morning of Day 6, where we will hike the Blackett Ridge East Trail, a vista-packed traverse of the ridge between Sabino and Bear Canyons (7 miles). We’ll stop for lunch then make our way back to the Tucson airport and the close of our Chiricahua and The Sonoran Desert Hiking Tour.
Assemble in Tucson. Shuttle to Chiricahua area. Cactus Forest Trail
|Day 2||Heart of Rocks Loop – Balanced Rock, Rhyolite Canyon & Echo Park||10 miles|
|Day 3||Wasson Peak – Hugh Norris Trail||9 miles|
|Day 4||Kent and Bog Springs Loop||5.5 miles|
|Day 5||Mt. Kimball||10 miles|
|Day 6||Blackett Ridge East Trail||7 miles|
Total Hiking Mileage 46.5