Beauty of Seven Falls

Friday, February 15, 2013

Brown Mountain Trail in the Tucson Mountains

The 3 ridges we climbed
We hiked The Brown Mountain Trail this week.   It is in the Tucson Mountains and it was named for Cornelius B. Brown who was an agriculture agent in Pima County from 1920 to 1945 and is known as the “Father of Tucson Mountain Park”.   The trail is approximately 5 miles long round trip with a 350 ft. elevation gain.  The guides always just give you the highest elevation gain on the trail that you will have to climb.  What they don’t tell you is that sometimes you climb that elevation more than once.  In the case of the Brown Mountain Trail, it reaches that height a total of 3 times.  It is listed in the guidebooks as a moderate hike and I would have to agree with that.  There were times some of us were definitely feeling the burn in our calves as we climbed higher. 

We were still smiling at this point
There were 8 of us this week on the hike.  The weather was cool and sunny…perfect for hiking.  I didn't eat breakfast before we left (which is not a good idea, you should always try to eat something) so the whole mountain looked like chocolate to me. There were varying beautiful shades of brown.  I actually thought that was how the mountain got its name.  Before we had gotten into the hike good I was already asking if it were lunch time.  

Careful, Gina!  Don't get to close to the edge...
That question is usually Ernie’s line, but I stole it for this hike.  I was starving and the look of a chocolate mountain only made it worse.
This hike is not an especially notable hike as far as the terrain goes.  We got a chance to see many saguaro, prickly pear, and jumping cholla (we will talk about these again later in the blog).  There still aren’t any wildflowers in bloom, so we are anxious to see when that starts.  The best thing about the Brown Mountain Trail is the surrounding views.  

Again, I will apologize for the pictures I include in the blog for they just do NOT do justice to the views we see on the trail.  I take a picture of a mountain view and you see just a shape of a mountain, blue skies, and a few cacti.  We see every crag and the differences in the colors of the face of the mountains.  It just isn't the same as seeing it with your own eyes.  Everyone that is able should make the effort to take a hike in the mountains, even if it is one of the really easy trails.  You are able to get a completely different feel for the real beauty here.  Anyway…

Our hike moved along very well along the ridge on the way up the first elevation gain.  This area is home to Old Tucson, The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Gilbert Ray Campground just to name a few spots of interest.  As the trail follows the ridgeline, we were able to get great views of Golden Gate Mountain and Wasson Peak, Saguaro National Park West, Avra Valley, and Baboquivari and Kitt Peaks off in the distance.

We finally reached the picnic area.  Hallelujah!  I didn't think I was going to be able hold out.  I’ll make sure I eat something in the morning before we leave from now on.  After about a 30 minute lunch break we headed back down.  We followed a different trail on the way back.  This trail was filled with all types of cactus and this is where the mountain wanted to let us know that although we are allowed to hike, camp, hunt, bike, and just sometimes come up and watch the sunset – it is still wild.  There are wild animals, and JUMPING CHOLLA CACTUS!   
Not afraid of prickly pear....
 We had made it within a mile of where we parked when Jim lost his balance and fell directly into a jumping cholla.  He had several of the stems that had attached themselves to his shoulders, back, legs and feet.  I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of the total operation of removing the stems but all we could think of was helping take them off him.  LaNeta ran back with her handy dandy pink jeweled pliers (which Jim had used in December to remove the cursed cholla stems from my hand) and I personally removed quite a few from his shoulder.  I was happy to repay the favor.

JoAnn helping remove cholla from Jim's ankles
 None the worse for wear, our motley crew headed for the parking area and home.  On the way out of the area, we spotted 2 houses way up on top of one of the ridges and JoAnn gave us the history of the house.  In the 1970s the homes were built by owners of a construction company in direct opposition of the community and Pima County wishes.  There was no law on the book when they bulldozed a road up to the top to begin building, but the Board of Supervisors was in the process of voting on an ordinance to prevent such building.  The construction equipment and houses suffered vandalism and fires for several years.

Not sure why they wanted to take my picture in front of this sign designating Cougar Trail.  Hmmmmm

Oh well, see you on the trails.


  1. I have got to get out there. Those pictures make a brother want to go on a hike.

  2. We would be happy to have you. I'll take you and Tiff on an easy one, then Tiff and the baby can stay with Arthur and I'll take you on one of the harder ones. Get in shape....

  3. You know I know walking. I can walk for miles on a good day.