Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mt. Bigelow, Coronado National Forest

Santa Catalina Mountains,
Pima Co.,
Arizona

Hiking Trails:
Mt. Bigelow Trail
Kellogg Trail
Butterfly Trail

Total Time: 1:00 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.1 Miles

Pros: Amazing drive to trailhead, great views and nice forest
Cons: Towers on top take away from the natural setting

I was in Tucson, Arizona, and decided to take a hike near Mount Lemmon high in the Santa Catalina Mountains. I had been to the Catalina Highway many years ago, and wanted to make a return trip with a hike in the area. (I think the Catalina Highway is one of the most scenic roads in the country.) Since I was busy with work, I could not do a long hike, so this was the perfect size for something short, yet with a good climb, and including a drive up Catalina Highway.

I parked at the Mt. Bigelow trailhead, and took the trail up to the Kellogg Trail, and then to the summit. The climb is about 600 feet in elevation gain to the summit by the towers. There are great views as you ascend, and the area is nicely forested with pine. At the summit I used a shortcut trail to cut down around the loop and back to the junction with the Butterfly Trail, and took the Butterfly Trail down a short distance past the norther ridge to the area where there was still some snow. I then turned around and took the Bigelow Trail back down to the parking area.

Map of the Route

Plaque About the Forest at the Trailhead 
Pine Trees at the Beginning of the Hike


Interesting Rock Formation

Pine Forest

Butterfly Trail Marker

Mt. Lemmon Summit from Mt. Bigelow

Nice View Facing North

View of the Desert Blue

Trail Marker at the Mt. Bigelow Summit

Me at the Trail Marker at Bigelow Summit 

Butterfly Trail Descending the Northern Slope of Bigelow Mountain

Forested Area and Desert. Note the Snow on the Trail in the Distance

Panning East from the Bigelow View

View from Mt. Bigelow, Facing Southeast

View from Mt. Bigelow, Facing South

Forested Area Below Bigelow Summit, Facing South

Zoomed South Towards Thimble Peak

Forest Below Mount Bigelow

Desert on the Northern Flank of the Catalinas

Snow on the Butterfly Trail

Northern Flank of Bigelow Mountain 

Me on the Snowy Bigelow Trail, in Short Sleeves

Mt. Bigelow Summit and Towers in the Distance

Monday, February 5, 2018

Picacho Peak Summit

Picacho Peak State Park,
Pinal Co.,
Arizona

Hiking Trails:
Hunter Trail

Total Time: 3:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 4 Miles

Pros: Very intense climb with cables and great views
Cons: $7 Entrance Fee

Hiking Partner:
Yehudah Koblick

I had made a trip to Arizona to attend a tradeshow, and I ended up taking a few hikes during my trip. I was fortunate to travel with my good friend and hiking partner Yehudah Koblick. We had great weather during our Arizona trip, with bright sunny days and a high 80 or above.

I have passed Picacho Peak many times driving from Phoenix to Tucson, but have never had a chance to make it up the mountain for a hike. I figured that this trip, together with Yehudah, I would get it done. The mountain doesn't look so big, ut when you look closely at it and are close by it is actually foreboding with very steep cliffs and vertical terrain. I was surprised just how difficult this mountain is, and at the same time how rewarding it was.

We started at the Hunter Trail parking area, and took the Hunter Trail steadily up to the saddle. This part is steep and vertical but was easy being a typical climb. Once we got to the saddle, we continued along the Hunter Trail and were surprised to see it descenting down the mountain. We asked someone coming up why the trail is going down; he said it was to go back up again. This down part is extremely steep and on cables. We almost turned around at this point due to the difficulty and the late hour, but we still forged ahead.

We continued along after the descent back on the ascent and up to the top of the mountain. There are many excellent scrambles are rope-requiring areas because of the scrambles and cliffs. We took a well-deserved break at the very top of the mountain, and then headed back down using the same route.

Map of the Route

Hunter Peak Trailhead Plaque with Picacho Peak in the Background

Yehudah Koblick and Myself at the Trailhead

Calloway Peak from the Trailhead

Another View of Calloway Peak

Me Climbing up the Hunter Trail

Yehudah Climbing up the Hunter Trail

Yehudah with the Cliff Face Behind Him

View of Peak Above the Cliff Wall from the Saddle

Picacho Peak Saddle

Yehudah at the Picacho Peak Saddle

Saguaro Cactus at the View at the Saddle

Me at the Saddle

Steel Cables Descending from the Saddle

View from the Western Side of the Mountain, with a Large Cactus

Mountains in the Distance Along the Western Side of the Mountain

Yehudah Ascending a Steep Part with a Steel Cable

Near the Final Ascent of the Mountain

Yehudah at the Picacho Peak Summit

View from the Summit, with I-10 in the Valley

View from the Summit, Facing Southeast Towards Tucson

Me and Yehudah at the Summit

Me on the Picacho Peak Summit, Facing Southeast

Me on the Picacho Peak Summit, Facing Northwest

Northern Ridge of Picacho Peak

View of the Valley and Highway done Below

Yehudah Descending the Mountain on Cables

Me Descending on Cables

Me and Yehudah at a View on our Descent

Yehudah with Saguaro Cacti

Saguaro at Sunset

Another Perspective of the Above Picture

Picacho Peak Trailhead at Dusk