This week our hike took us to beautiful Madera Canyon. Madera Canyon is located in the Coronado National Forest on the northwest side of the magnificent Santa Rita Mountains under the towering Mount Wrightson (elevation 9453 feet) the third tallest peak in Arizona and the tallest in the Santa Rita Range. We hiked the Madera Creek Trail which was only about six miles round trip, but filled with plenty of hiking challenges. Our adventure began at the Whitehouse Picnic area and we followed along the creek on the Nature Trail. I have probably said this every week so far (in my four weeks as a hiker) but I have to say it again. This had to be one of the most stunning settings in the world for a hike to date.
The trail head is at an elevation of about 4500 feet and we gained about 600 ft. elevation on the nature trail. There were spots in the trail where you hardly caught your breath from one pretty steep little junction before another was upon you. Experienced climbers probably call this hike easy, but you notice my blog is titled the “novice hiker”…thus my whining at some of the challenging spots. I will admit I got pretty winded a couple of times before we stopped for our lunch break, but I am quick to add that I’m getting a little better every week. At least I’m not reaching for Aleve or Advil as soon as I come in the door like I did after my first hike.
The trail was clearly marked and actually had identifiers on trees and other native plants which made the hike so much more educational for those of us new to the Tucson area and still learning the plant life (other than cacti). We have a fellow hiker that is very well informed on all the flora and fauna and helps fill us in on all the plants we have questions about, but he deserted us this time for some golfing event that was going on in town....the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship or some such nonsense.
Maybe the draw of big names like Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones, Luke Donald, Rory Mcllroy, Bubba Watson and others was enough to spirit away our resident botanist George, and a few others, but we had a relatively large group of 13 on the trail not giving a thought to the hundreds of people on the links. We were in our element.
After our lunch break at the halfway mark on the trail we followed the road down to the Santa Rita Lodge where they have a large enclosure where they feed the birds. There were several large wild turkeys while we were there today and we were able to identify quite a few other birds feeding in the area – Mexican Jays, Red-breasted Nuthatches, sparrows, finches, and many more.
We continued down the road on our way back down to the parking area and stopped in at several bed & breakfast establishments for information. There were bed & breakfast, lodges, cabins, casitas…WHO KNEW!!?? Anyway, I picked up information brochures on accommodations at several of these hidden jewels for future possibilities…
|Another perfect hike under our fanny packs!|
Many thanks to the Friends of Madera Canyon for the brochures on hiking in Madera Canyon and Birds of Madera Canyon.