Beauty of Seven Falls

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pima Canyon Trail to the Dam in the Catalina Mountains

Okay, I know I’m going to age myself with this one, but how many of you remember the little song in Disney's Pinocchio when he ran away from home and joined that little circus where he was an actor?  He sang the song, “An actor’s life for me”.  I feel like that about hiking.  That is my new song!  I am working on changing all the words to fit hiking instead of acting:
A hiker's life for me!
A wide brimmed hat and a trekking pole,
GPS that is good as gold.


A hiker’s life for me!

Forgive me, but hiking has become my new passion!  Our group hiked beautiful Pima Canyon Trail in the Catalina Mountains on Wednesday.  This was the second time I hiked this particular trail and I have to say….it is just as difficult today as it was 2 years ago.  The trail didn’t change one iota.  I was new to hiking when we took on the Pima Canyon Trail 2 years ago and I was told it was a moderate hike.  

I thought I was going to die before we reached the dam at the turn-around point then and I don’t think I felt much better about it this past Wednesday.  It seemed to take forever to reach the dam.  It is only a 6 ½ mile hike.  It’s about 3.2 miles in and the same back out.  The elevation change is about 750 feet, but they only count the total elevation.  That figure does not include all of the climbs up and down of the trail.  For those of you that like climbing – there is lots and lots of climbing and stretching (if you happen to have short legs like I do) connected with this hike. 


There were only 6 of us this week, and I wonder if others in the group that were missing in action remembered the challenges of this trail. I certainly didn’t remember, but of course being the ‘novice hiker’, all of the hikes 2 years ago were challenging to me so I would have nothing to compare it to. 

Okay, I think I have the whining out of my system now, so on with the story.

Jim & Mike bringing up the rear
Lead us JoAnn!

We had beautiful hiking weather.  That usually goes without saying this time of year in southern Arizona.  The temps starting out were probably around 55 degrees with wonderfully clear, sunny skies. 

From the parking lot we started out on a small trail that went through private property to the trailhead.  The trailhead is very well marked and a short ways in the signs indicated that we were entering the wilderness area.  After 15 or 20 minutes in we started climbing. 

A hiker’s life for me…

The canyon views are very spectacular, with rock faces rising on either side. I would be hard-pressed to pick one canyon as the most beautiful in the Catalina Mountains, because they are all equally incredible in different ways. We saw saguaro, prickly pear, and cholla cactus along with many other desert trees and plants.  We were even treated to a rare crested saguaro.

Awesome colors

Crested Saguaro
Beautiful rock face

A beauty surrounded by beauty.....
Breathtaking views
Mike, Jim, Don & Gina
Me & JoAnn being silly
For the first 45 minutes or so everything was going along fine.  We took plenty of water breaks and time-outs to enjoy the views.  After about an hour we all started wondering (aloud) why it seemed to be taking so long to get to the dam.  None of us remembered it being so tiring!

We even asked a couple of people that were on their way back down how much further it was to the dam.  This was pretty funny, because two groups we asked didn’t even know there was a dam, they just turned around when they got tired and started back down.  We finally came across one young man who told us we had another 45 minutes to go.  OH LORD!  I thought we were closer. 

A wide brimmed hat and a trekking pole 

The guys take the lead for a while

I should mention that the last time we hiked Pima Canyon it was in the early spring and there was quite a bit of water from the snow melting in the mountains.  We had to cross several streams to reach the dam and there was actually water at the dam at that time.  It was completely dry when we hiked Wednesday.  There wasn’t even mud in the streams or the dam when we reached it. 

Moving thru the canyon
Rockface on both sides
It actually did take 45 minutes to the dam, and were we ready to sit and have lunch?  Yes indeed!  My feet and legs were burning from the climb.  It was all worth it though.  You can’t get views like this down in town.  Looking at the mountains from afar can never give you the same rush you get from climbing through them.  Exhilarating!


One of the things we get to see on this hike – only if you go all the way to the dam – is the grinding rock.  There is this really large flat rock and the indentations from where the ancient inhabitants ground their mesquite pods into flour are still very prevalent.  They say that many years ago, people were even able to see some of the original stones that were used hundreds and hundreds of years ago.  Mike and I had to make do with a nice round stone we found.

Mike giving a grinding rock demonstration

Used by the ancients.....
GPS that is good as gold

We had our lunch and rested up at the dam for the trek back down the trail.  There were no rattlesnakes, bobcats, mountain lions, javelina, or any other wild animals in our way.  

The views make the sore feet worth it

Enjoying lunch break

My dogs were tired....
Another wonderful hike under our camelbacks!

A hiker's life for me...

See you on the trails.....


  1. Beautifully written Yvonne. Can't wait for my visit.


  2. Come on down Shantelle! I've got just the hike picked out for your visit. We're going to hike it this week - Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls. It is one of my favorite hikes so far, and I've done it 4 or 5 times.