Beauty of Seven Falls

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls in the Santa Catalina Mountains

I know I'm probably very boring when it comes to the weather on our hiking days.  It seems to always be sunny and warm with beautiful blue skies. Well, I have to finally say it hiking fans….we had a day that actually started out cloudy and remained that way for most of the hike.  Don’t get me wrong it didn’t put a damper on the hike in the slightest.  A cloudy day in the Old Pueblo is better than a sunny day anywhere in the world to me.  It was cool and cloudy and beautiful!  We hiked one of my favorite trails this week; we returned to Sabino Canyon and followed the Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls.

JoAnn leading

Judy and LaNeta following

Our group of 10 started out from the visitor’s center via tram to the trailhead.  My adrenaline was really pumping – not only because of the excitement of being back at Sabino Canyon, but because the group had to go without me from our usual meeting point.  I got a really late start in the morning and had to drive alone to the canyon.  The parking lot is under construction and parking is very limited so I was afraid that I would not find a spot to park.  Even if I did get lucky and get a spot, I thought I would miss the group and they would be on the tram and on their way up to the trailhead without me.  Neither of those things happened.  The stars were in perfect alignment!  When I pulled into the lot my hiking buddies were walking across the parking lot to the visitor’s center, and I pulled right into a parking spot as someone else was pulling out.  

The views are spectacular, even under partly cloudy skies.  These mountains and canyons dotted with saguaro, ocotillo, and cholla cactus are breathtaking - whatever the weather conditions.

Cloud cover just allows you to enjoy them without the heat of the sun to slow you down.

We took the first tram to Bear Canyon at 9:00 a.m. and started out trek to Seven Falls.  This is a hike we usually do in the early spring, but JoAnn decided to do this one early because Jim’s son, Steve was in for the Thanksgiving holiday and wanted to hike with our group while he was in town.  We chose this one because this is such a beautiful hike.  

Jim and Steve

There had been very little rain in the area since our monsoon season and the streams were completely dry. In the spring, water is running because of snow melting in the higher elevations of Catalina Mountains.  We still had to cross the seven washes, but we all made it with dry feet.  

Two of the dry stream beds we crossed.  What a difference a day makes in the desert though.  Last year when we hiked here, we came across safely and the next day it rained and helicopters had to rescue hikers.  You just never know whats going to happen in the mountains. That is one of the reasons I probably will never hike alone.  There is safety in numbers.

Another plus for this hike – Gordy and LaNeta were back from the Dakotas for the winter.  YAY!   In 2011, Seven Falls was my very first hike with the group and LaNeta and I bonded quickly because we both ended up with wet feet trying to navigate the streams.  Not a problem this week. LOL

Gordy and LaNeta

The clouds didn’t dampen our spirits at all as we climbed along the trail.  The trail is only 5 miles when you take the tram to and from the trailhead, and the elevation is about 700 feet.  The cloud cover kept the morning very cool and comfortable, but we still stopped for regular breaks for water and to take in the breathtaking views.  

We had something new to keep our eyes peeled for on this hike.  On Monday, they had released 31 bighorn sheep in Catalina State Park.  Rumor has it, one of them headed toward Bear Canyon.  I would think I had died and gone to heaven if and when we ever spot one of the sheep!  Unfortunately, we saw no wildlife at all….

I have hiked this trail several times since 2011 and the one thing that stands out to me is how much progress I have made as a novice hiker.  I don’t think I complained of tiredness or pain one time.  My first time on this trail, I thought I wouldn’t make it to the top, to the falls.  I never felt that way this time.  Maybe having an idea of how much further it is to the end helps.  

Jim snapping shots at the falls

Finding good spots to relax for lunch


We made pretty good time reaching the falls and discovered there was not much water at all.  There was a little trickle coming down the rock, but it was still a great place to relax and have our lunch.

Just a trickle of water at the falls
Rock formation resembling a totem pole

After our rest at the falls we packed up picked up and headed back down the canyon.  Oh I guess I should put in the part about me doing a little rock climbing to retrieve a tee shirt someone had stuck in an opening in the rockface.  This is a beautiful area, and it just hurts to see how some people will deface or leave trash lying around. 

I don’t think I will ever tire of this hike, no matter how many times I am lucky enough to do it.  It is just as beautiful if not more, every time I go. 

See you on the trails…..

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