Beauty of Seven Falls

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sutherland Trail - Catalina State Park

We had another wonderful hike this week. Our group of eight started out at our regular 8:30 starting time.  Beautiful skies and weather greeted us as we headed out to the Catalina State Park.  Our destination – The Sutherland Trail - was exciting to me, because it was a completely new hike for me.  I know what you’re thinking, “she’s the novice hiker, and most of the trails are new to her”.  Yes, quite true, but I have done a couple of the hikes more than once now.  One of them – Seven Falls at Sabino Canyon – I have done 3 times now!

The Sutherland Trail is an ‘out and back’ hike.  It is approx. 5 mi. round trip and has an elevation gain of approx. 700 ft.
A short walk from the parking lot leads us to the first crossing of three crossing of the Sutherland Wash.  There was a good amount of water going through because of recent snow and the fact that it is still melting and running down from the mountains.  Everyone was very surefooted and we kept dry as we crossed and continued.  

Gordy and Ernie 
This was a very pretty hike with beautiful yellow poppies in abundance along the trail.  There were a large quantity of saguaro, prickly pear, and ever present cholla also.

Majestic saguaro

Yellow poppies in abundance
The elevation gain was mainly at the beginning of the trail, but we weren't able to get too comfortable with plateau living before another climb was necessary.  I really enjoy these types of hikes.  Climbing with plateaus interspersed.  It kind of gives you a chance to catch your breath and enjoy the views.  Oh yes, the views.  The ever-present mountain views kept it very interesting.

There were also some very interesting rock formations along the trail.  There was one I just couldn't seem to tear my eyes away from.  The shape (to me) seemed to be of an elongated head like you see in Aztec carvings.  The front of it even looked like a face had been carved into it.  Okay, okay, so my imagination runs wild out there.  That’s what makes it so interesting to me and keeps me coming back.
What do you think?  Spaceman head? Face on left....

We stopped at an area with pools and a large flat rock expanse which was perfect for our lunch break.  There was quite a bit of water running through these streams and pools also.  It was nice enough outside for several of our group to remove their shoes and socks and soak their feet in that cold water.  BRRRR!

Judy - after she put her shoes back on.
Ernie and Jim sans shoes

Well, just in case you think you're getting away without a bit of history this week....

History of how the Sutherland Trail got its name: 

The Sutherland Trail was named for a family that settled in this area in the 1800s.  In 1892, William Henry Sutherland sold his interest in the Arizona Stage Company, which ran from Casa Grande to Tucson. He felt cattle ranching would be more lucrative and, with his sons, built a ranch house and well at the mouth of Cargodera Canyon; one can still see the ruins today. Cattle usually range within one and one-half miles of a water source, and the Sutherland ranch stood on the banks of a wide wash, now named after him, to insure his cattle had water. Like many ranching families, Sutherland owned a home in Tucson and the family spent only part of the year on the ranch. Today Sutherland's ranch can be identified by two-foot high adobe walls, slowly melting into the desert. The ranch house is 28 feet long and 18 feet wide. An old road is still visible, running out of Sutherland Wash and heading northeast toward the mountains.  There is a lot more history that goes with the Sutherland; Chicago gangsters, whiskey stills, and more.  But, this is a blog about hiking so I have to keep it short.

Now that I know a little history of the trail, I would like to go back and see if I can find the ruins….

BTW…some of us did 2 hikes this week.  The one at Sabino Canyon directly follows this posting.  Enjoy!

I found a perfect alcove to have lunch - shoes on!
See you on the trails......