Beauty of Seven Falls

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sutherland Trail in the Catalina State Park

Our hike this week was the Sutherland Trail. The Sutherland Trail is an ‘out and back’ trail which is  approximately 5.2 mi. round trip and has an elevation gain of 700 ft.  It is located in the Catalina State Park in the Catalina Mountains and is listed as a relatively easy hike, but there is enough climbing to give you a really good workout.  One of the things I really like about this hike is the elevation gain is so gradual, a lot of members didn’t realize we had actually climbed 700 feet until I told them at the end of the hike.

Our group of 9 set out at 8:00 a.m. on a beautiful Tucson morning, and included JoAnn, Danielle, Connie, Judy, Dave, Barbara, Ernie, Eugenia and little old me.  

There several trails that originate from the same parking area, but they are very well marked (something a "novice hiker" is always thankful for). To get to the Sutherland trailhead you must cross three washes.  Sometimes there is quite a bit of water in the washes, but they were all completely dry this trip.  

Unbelievably breathtaking views!
This hike boasts some of the most breathtaking views in the Catalina Mountains.  We brought along our binoculars because this was the area where they released bighorn sheep last year and we hoped to spot a few while on the trail.  Of course we were terribly disappointed when no one spotted any.  

We did spot a few little wildlife representatives though…

Watching us "like a hawk"
Watching ....the hawk maybe?
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. 


The weather was perfect for hiking – in the mid 70s, but we stopped plenty of times for water breaks and to take in the sights.  It is absolutely wonderful to be out on the trail with friends, catching up with what everyone I did during the off-season.    We talk about their children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends. 


If you want to make friends – I mean real friends – join a hiking group.  There is a closeness that transcends backyard fences, because of how we depending on each other for our safety and well-being.  When we are out there on these mountain trails anything can happen.  There are real wild animals in these mountains; mountain lions, bears, bobcats, coyotes, and more.  It’s a good feeling to know that someone has your back up there. 

We follow the trail for a little over 5 miles until we reach an old iron gate.  We have to go through this gate and there is a sign that says to make sure you close the gate so cattle can’t get out, but I’ve never seen any cattle….

Lunch time

Wait Connie!  We're not ready to go yet!

Okay, enough about the trail….how about more views?


Even little bits of color stand out in the desert......


Another successful hike under our camelbacks.

A special thanks to Judy for forwarding some of her beautiful pictures which are included in this week's hike.

Thisis my expression on every hike (when it's break time

See you on the trails....

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