Beauty of Seven Falls

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Return to Bear Canyon Trail in Beautiful Sabino Canyon

Beautiful view of Seven Falls
Our robust group of 9 met at our regular time of 8:30 a.m. and headed out to Sabino Canyon in the Coronado National Forest.  Most of our group has been to Sabino Canyon many times, and I was psyched to see how far I had progressed since last year when I hiked this for the first time.

This hike is listed as moderate on most of the trail guides and to a “Novice Hiker” that means the degree of difficulty is pretty high.  Sabino Canyon is located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The Bear Canyon trail is approximately 9 miles round trip. We cut about 4 miles off this total by taking the shuttle from the welcome center up to the actual trailhead. When I hiked this trail the first time, I was actually crawling up the rocks by the time we made it up to the Seven Falls.  

JoAnn leading us over one of the crossings

Everyone was very surefooted this hike
Gordy bringing up the rear

This is not an easy hike by any stretch of the imagination.  The trail crisscrosses over Sabino Creek and because of the melting snow up in the higher elevation of the Santa Catalina Mountains all of the crossings had plenty of water streaming through.  The first thing I would like to mention is that I did not slip off any stepping stones into the stream this year.  YAY!  I was seven for seven.  There are seven crossings going up and the same seven coming back down.

The canyon was even more beautiful than I remembered.  I guess on my first hike, I tried to keep my eyes on my feet to make sure I didn’t trip and fall.  It is one of the most beautiful hiking areas in southern Arizona. Not only do you see the ever present saguaro, cholla, and prickly pear cactus, but the streams flowing through and across the basin.  There are just breathtaking views.  The few photos I insert in this blog does not come close to capturing the real beauty.

Breathtaking view of the walls of the canyon from the trail
A little history of Sabino Canyon:  Some of the earliest human occupants of Sabino Canyon were the Native American Hohokam people.  There is evidence in pieces of pottery, or shards, and pit house foundations that the Hohokam people lived in the canyon between 300 and about 1400 AD. With the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, Sabino Canyon became part of the United States.  The Gadsden Purchase, or Treaty, was an agreement between the United States and Mexico, finalized in 1854, in which the United States agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of Mexico that later became part of Arizona and New Mexico.

One of many fallen boulders
In Tucson's early days, people took picnics to Sabino Canyon. In 1887, there was a big earthquake in Mexico, 150 miles away from Sabino Canyon. Many of the huge boulders you see in the canyon fell from the canyon walls or were moved in that quake. In 1890, the Forest Preservation Act was passed by the United States Congress and in 1905 when the Forest Service was created, Sabino Canyon came under its supervision.

One of the things that really stood out on this hike was the lack of blue skies.  If you notice pictures of other hikes we've been on, the sun is always high in the sky and the sky is usually so blue it looks artificial.  The lack of sunshine didn't dampen our spirits or diminish the beauty of the canyon.  It was about 80 degrees when we finished so it’s probably a good thing it was partially cloudy. 

It took us about an hour and a half to make it from the trailhead up to the falls.  That is where we took a nice break and had our lunch.  The pictures below show some the views we enjoyed while resting, eating and chatting.

Connie & LeNeta

Ernie & Gordy

JoAnn and Jim deciding the next hike

Connie catching a cat nap.

After a brief lunch we headed back down the trail.  It always seems much easier going down.  It was a wonderful hike - as usual.  Some of us  enjoyed picking out mountains we could see as we waited for the shuttle for the return trip to the parking lot.  Others used this time to catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation....

I wanted to take this boulder with me....
See you on the trails!