Arizona is an extremely lovely and intensely various state with topography starting from low-lying desert landscapes to excessive mountain peaks and alpine forest ranges. Greater than some other geological characteristic, Arizona is broadly famend for its many lovely and distant rock canyons, deep gorges, waterfalls, and swimming pools scattered all through the state. What I discover much more wonderful, nonetheless, is that many of those wild backcountry canyons are accessible through “non-technical” climbing routes that don’t require ropes and are actually a day’s journey away. Phoenix or Tucson. For an incredible late summer time to early fall day journey and hike, in case you are up for an thrilling problem and a unprecedented and scenic day journey, then go on an journey of mountain slide, canyoning to Seven Cataractes and discover Willow Canyon Tucson, Arizona.
It was Labor Day and early Sunday morning I left Phoenix at round 6 a.m. out of city on I-10 East and arrived in Tucson at 7:30 a.m. Upon exiting Ina Highway, I left the freeway and took a left, heading east for 8 miles, and met the TLC Mountaineering Group, led and arranged by Eric Kinneman, on the Westin La Paloma Resort and I arrived at 8 am. As a result of parking was alleged to be restricted on the trailhead for this hike, we carpooled it collectively and set off for the hike and day journey eastbound on Dawn Blvd. at 8:25 am.
The gorgeous stroll on Dawn Blvd by way of the northern expanses of Tucson and thru the rolling foothills of the gorgeous Santa Catalina Mountains has at all times been a favourite of mine. The Santa Catalina Mountains are Tucson’s tallest mountain vary, reaching as much as 9,157 ft above sea stage at its summit, Mount Lemmon. To get there and attain the trailhead for our hike, we zigzagged it by way of Tucson, driving east on Dawn Blvd to Swan Highway, turned proper (south), in direction of River Highway, turned to left (east), then proper on Sabino Canyon Highway, left on Tanque Verde Highway and headed east on Tanque Verde Highway till we attain the Catalina Freeway, aka the “Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway” , then we turned left once more.
After turning left on the Catalina Freeway, you enter the Coronado Nationwide Forest and start the winding ascent into the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains. Despite the fact that it had been a very long time since I final went there, I used to be nonetheless amazed on the magnificence and great thing about this street. As quickly as you ascend in altitude from 3,000 ft, the views are completely breathtaking with each hairpin bend offering a brand new and wonderful rock formation or a powerful view of the canyon within the distance. For those who prefer to cease and take lots of images, as I at all times love to do, there are many alternatives so that you can do that as this route has so many views to take pleasure in alongside the way in which. Nevertheless, about 3 miles away, simply previous the Molino Canyon Overlook, there’s a pay kiosk the place it’s worthwhile to buy a $ 5 Coronado Nationwide Forest go in the event you plan to cease additional down the street. We purchased the day passes, one per automobile and hiked an extra three miles till we reached the Vista level of the Seven Cataracts, simply previous Thimble Peak Vista and about mile 8 and about 1/3 of the way in which to Mont Citron.
We acquired to the Vista Level of the Seven Cataracts and in the beginning of our path we parked and began our day of climbing and canyoning at 9am. The hen’s eye view of Willow Canyon beneath was completely gorgeous, but additionally extremely steep! Instantly from the beginning the descent into Willow Canyon on this “day use” path was strenuous to say the least. Estimated to be a few descent of about 1000-1300 ft with a 60% incline over all free dust, gravel and boulders, every of us needed to actually drop to the bottom on our “buttocks” and cross part. part, slide it a few complete of a mile or so till we hit the underside. What a website it was to see too, actually thrilling and lots of enjoyable! Nevertheless this “unofficial” path largely utilized by skilled canyoners is rated as very troublesome some even say treacherous or harmful so wouldn’t advocate doing this hike by yourself until you’re a mountain hiker. canyon skilled or have a canyon climbing information expertise with you.
As soon as all of us glided safely and reached the underside and after a fast group photograph, Eric began main our group on our canyoning exploration additional into Willow Canyon, scrambling, boulder leaping and sophistication 3 mountaineering at by way of partially working waterfalls. Actually lovely and spectacular surroundings all the way in which down too! We continued for a few quarter mile the place we had reached some very good working falls and took the chance to chill off, relaxation and benefit from the tranquility and great thing about this distant and lesser recognized wild canyon. In the meantime, Eric, together with a number of different adventurous members, lined one other 1/3 of a mile, and after extra scrambling, bouldering, and sophistication 3-4 climbing, reached a powerful drop of 100ft water and a bigger, pretty deep swimming gap he mentioned even with a 10ft cliff leap they could not hit backside! Astonishing!
After about an hour’s break, we determined it was time to begin heading residence. Now was the time for the toughest a part of our canyoning journey, to return again! So we began our hike by way of Willow Canyon the identical method we got here, scrambling, leaping rocks, wading by way of swimming pools, then again up by way of the waterfall. It solely took a short while, nonetheless, and inside minutes we had been all safely again to the bottom of the hillside we had initially “slipped” on earlier. That is the place we met up with Eric after which we break up into two teams. You’ll be able to determine to do the ascent in the identical place you descended with the 60% ranking on all free earth and gravel, the place Eric mentioned it was for all 3 steps, a slip of 1 or two again. Or my pal Dan determined it seemed like in the event you took it up a little bit decrease to the left you would extra simply climb it straight over the rocks and cliff and all the way in which to the highest. So myself, together with a number of different members, adopted Dan’s lead and acquired again on our ft, slowly and thoroughly scaled it, part by part till we reached it safely till on the prime. Wow, for me and for somebody who’s afraid of heights and has no climbing expertise this was a problem, but additionally lots of enjoyable and an incredible exercise!
As soon as we acquired again to the highest and car parking zone at Seven Cataractes Vista we waited for the final members to return again safely after which at 12:15 pm we acquired again in our automobiles to make the remainder of the way in which to Mt Lemmon for lunch on the Iron Gate Restaurant. The views alongside the way in which had been spectacular once more as you weave your method from the 5,000ft elevation to the Mount Lemmon Valley, an elevation of round 8,200ft. Though the indicators of the devastating Aspen fireplace in 2003 had been noticeable, it was nonetheless very lovely and the temperatures presently of day had been low within the mid-80s and really cool and refreshing.
Nevertheless, with the two.5 hour wait on the restaurant, on condition that it was a weekend and in addition a vacation, we determined it was higher to show round and return as an alternative.
We acquired again to Tucson round 2pm and after an incredible lunch at a little bit restaurant known as Renee’s Natural Oven on Tanque Verde Highway, we headed again to the Westin La Paloma Resort round 4pm, the place these of us who had simply come down for the day, returned to Phoenix from there to return residence round 6pm.
All in all, it was actually an incredible canyoning and waterfall climbing exploration journey with the TLC climbing group, rigorously researched, properly deliberate and thought out to the smallest element by Eric Kinneman himself. Actually every thing, extremely lovely, thrilling, but additionally very stimulating. I feel this hike is finest summed up in Eric Kinneman’s personal phrases through which he quotes: “The Seven Cataracts Waterfalls Journey Hike is an incredible hike that I extremely advocate folks to do. It is going to check your fears, give you an unbelievable exercise and takes you thru lovely canyons, a 100ft waterfall and a swimming gap, hardly ever seen by anybody. What extra might you ask for! “