Beauty of Seven Falls

Friday, February 1, 2013

Upper Javelina Trail in the Tortolita Mountains

Sun on a hiking day is always a welcome sight
We returned to the Tortolita Mountains this week to hike the Upper Javelina Trail.  Many of you will remember our hiking the Wild Burro and Lower Javelina Trails  in December - if not there is also a blog post  on that hike.  That is the infamous hike where I was attacked by a jumping cholla cactus.  I am amazed that I agreed to return to the site of such trauma for me so soon, but such is life.  The Tortolita Mountain range boasts some 29 miles of trails, which includes classic Sonoran Desert terrain, rugged ridges, diverse wildlife, historic ruins and signs of prehistoric inhabitants.  The Upper and Lower Javelina are very good trails for visitors and novices – not that it is an easy hike, it is quite moderate,  with a lot of climbing – but it is very well marked.  It has brown markers with arrows along the trail showing the way.  We hiked a total of about 6 or so miles with the combination round trip of the Wild Burro and Upper Javelina Trails.

We started at the Wild Burro Trailhead at the parking lot and followed the markers to the junction of the Upper Javelina Trail.  The trail lead us up and around the Dove Mountain Golf Resort where we were able to view Baboquivari Peak, Picacho Peak and Mt. Lemmon.  We were also able to see Twin Peak.  It is no longer Twin Peaks – which has streets, schools and parks named after it – because a construction company has mined one of the peaks into oblivion because of the limestone it held.  I’m sure the other peak is destined for the same fate.  Kind of sad, but I guess that’s what you call progress….

This blog will be relatively short because we just were at Dove Mountain in December – different trail, but many of the same views.  Thankfully, we had none of the trauma/drama that went along with the December hike.

The weather was a little on the cool side so we were all pretty bundled up and as crazy as it seems, we never peeled off too many layers.  It would feel nice and warm in the sun and suddenly we would round a corner where there was mostly shade and we were chilled again.  It was clear and sunny and we had a marvelous time.  George had other obligations so he wasn't with us on this hike, but I was missing him with his little coffee candies about halfway in.  I was yelling “Who has the energy drops?  Who has the candy?”  My pleas went unanswered…. 

As we hike, some of us try to compare the difficulty of one hike to another.  I am finding this increasingly hard to do because every single hike is different.  The guides may indicate the mileage is comparable, or the elevation gain is about the same, but they can never tell you the terrain differences.  I believe in the hike to Seven Falls in the Sabino Canyon the elevation was about the same as this one, but we were very winded in a couple of areas here on the Upper Javelina that I can say didn't happen to me at Seven Falls.  I felt that the elevation gain was more concentrated on this hike.  That being said, once we made it to the summit of the trail, coming back down was much easier.  It amazed some of us to see trail bike tracks occasionally.  The trail is very tricky and has some close edges where there were some pretty dangerous drops.  I just couldn't imagine how bikers were able to manage it.  I guess that's why this blog is called the Novice Hiker and not the Novice Biker.

 The one thing that never changes - although it constantly evolves - no matter what mountain or what trail we are on, it the beauty of the trails.  Whether we are 30 minutes or 2 hours from home, once we are on the trail we are transported to another time another plane.  It is hard to explain, but the 3 or 4 hours we are out there in the wild completely dependent upon each other is a feeling like no other.

Even when civilization intrudes like this:  
Dove Mountain Golf resort
Somehow, coming around a bend in the trail around the mountain and seeing this big resort brings you back to the here and now.  No more dreaming of ancient Hohokam men cutting petroglyphs into the side of rocks or the women grinding corn on the stones.  

Ah, but I wax poetic.  After all, it's just a Wednesday morning hike....

Heading home again, home again, jiggety jig

Until next time....see you on the trails!


  1. How far did you hike? 29 miles in 3-4 hours is a pretty brisk pace. Lol! Nice pictures.

  2. I think that statement could have been said better. The total mileage for ALL the trails is 29 miles. We did only a combination of 2 trails. I have gone back to try to clarify it. Thanks.