Arizona is an extremely stunning, wildly diverse condition with topography ranging from low degree desert landscapes, to high mountain peaks and alpine forest ranges. Much more than any other geologic aspect though, Arizona is commonly renowned for its quite a few wonderful and remote rock canyons, deep slot gorges, drinking water falls and swimming pools which are scattered during the point out. Nevertheless, what I locate even more remarkable, is that numerous of these backcountry wilderness canyons can be accessed via “non-specialized” canyon climbing routes which will not involve ropes and are pretty much inside a one day’s journey from possibly Phoenix or Tucson. For an great late summer months to early drop day excursion and hike, if you are up for far more of an interesting problem and an incredible and scenic day trip, then take a mountain sliding, canyoneering mountaineering experience to Seven Cataracts, and take a look at Willow Canyon, Tucson, Arizona.
It was the Labor Day vacation and early on Sunday morning that I still left Phoenix, about 6am, heading out of town on I-10 East and arrived in Tucson by 7:30am. At the Ina Highway exit, I swung off the freeway and took a still left, heading east 8 miles, and fulfilled up with the TLC Hiking Group, led and arranged by Eric Kinneman, at the Westin La Paloma Vacation resort and arrived by 8am. For the reason that the parking was explained to be confined at the trailhead for this hike, we carpooled it together and set out for the day’s hike and journey heading east on Sunrise Blvd. by 8:25am.
The gorgeous push on Sunrise Blvd throughout the northern stretches of Tucson and by the rolling foothills of the beautiful Santa Catalina mountains has normally been a most loved of mine. The Santa Catalina Mountains are Tucson’s highest mountain array reaching all the way up to 9157 feet in elevation at its incredibly prime, Mount Lemmon. To get there and to arrive at the trailhead for our hike, we zig zagged it throughout Tucson, driving east on Sunrise Blvd to Swan Road, turned suitable (south), to River Street, turned left (east), then a correct onto Sabino Canyon Road, left on to Tanque Verde Highway and headed east on Tanque Verde Street until we reached the Catalina Highway, aka the “Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway”, and then turned remaining again.
It was about 4 miles or so following creating the still left turn onto the Catalina Freeway that you enter the Coronado Nationwide Forest and begin the winding ascent up into the rugged Santa Catalina mountains. Despite the fact that it really is been a prolonged time considering that I was very last there, I was however impressed at just how stunning and lovely this drive genuinely is. Straight away as you head on up in elevation beginning at 3000 feet, the sights are absolutely spectacular with each individual switchback and hairpin curve providing a new and incredible rock formation or magnificent canyon vista off to the distance. If you like to halt and just take a whole lot of pictures, as I constantly like to do, you have a good deal of option to do so for the reason that this generate offers a number of vista factors to enjoy alongside the way. However, at about mile marker 5, just earlier the Molino Canyon Forget, there is a fork out station where by you need to obtain a $5 Coronado Countrywide Forest day use recreation go if you happen to be preparing on halting anyplace even more alongside the travel. We procured the working day use passes, one particular each and every per automobile and journeyed on for 3 extra miles until we attained the Seven Cataracts Vista Issue, just earlier Thimble Peak Vista and approximately at about mile marker 8 and about 1/3 of the way up to Mount Lemmon.
We pulled into the 7 Cataracts Vista issue, and our trailhead, parked and begun out on our day’s mountaineering and canyoneering journey by 9am. The perspective wanting down into Willow Canyon down below was totally attractive, but also extremely steep too! Promptly, ideal from the beginning, the drop off into Willow Canyon on this “day use” path was intensive, to say the very minimum. Estimated to be roughly about a 1000-1300 toes descent straight down with a 60% quality on all loose filth, gravel and rocks, just about every a single of us experienced to pretty much fall down to the ground on our “butts” and from area to section, slide it on down for about a whole of a ¼ of a mile until eventually we had manufactured down to the bottom. What a web site it was to see far too, truly interesting and a large amount of exciting! On the other hand, this “non-formal” trail, primarily employed by professional canyoneers, is rated really tricky, some even say treacherous or dangerous, so I would not advocate undertaking this hike on your possess except if you are an expert canyon hiker or have an seasoned canyon climbing guidebook with you.
At the time we experienced all safely and securely slid our way down and reached the base and right after a fast team image, Eric began foremost our group on our canyoneering exploration more down into Willow Canyon, scrambling, boulder hopping and course 3 climbing as a result of partly managing drinking water falls. Definitely beautiful and impressive landscapes all the way down much too! We ongoing on for about a ¼ mile exactly where we had arrived at a really wonderful managing falls and relished the option to cool off, relaxation and get pleasure from the tranquil tranquility and splendor of this distant and lesser known wilderness canyon. Meanwhile, Eric, together with a number of other adventurous members, journeyed on for a further 1/3 to ¼ mile, and right after much more scrambling, boulder hopping and course 3-4 climbing, arrived at a magnificent 100 foot drinking water slide and a bigger swimming gap deep more than enough he said that even with a jump off a 10 foot cliff, they could not strike bottom! Remarkable!
Soon after about an hour or so crack, we resolved it was time to get started creating our way back. Now it was time for the most complicated aspect of our canyoneering experience, building it back again! So we commenced our trek back through Willow Canyon the identical way we came, scrambling, boulder hopping, wading by means of the pools, then climbing it back up by means of the drinking water slide. It only took a limited time nevertheless and inside minutes we experienced all made it safely back up and to the base of the aspect of the hill we had at first “slid” down on before. It was listed here that we satisfied again up with Eric then broke up into two teams. You could make a decision to possibly make the ascent in the exact same position you came down with the 60% grade on all unfastened grime and gravel, wherever Eric explained it was for every 3 ways up, a slide of one particular or two back. Or my close friend Dan decided it looked like if you took it up a tiny even further down to the remaining, you could far more simply climb it straight up the rocks and cliff and up to the prime. So myself, alongside with a number of other associates adopted Dan’s guide and hand above foot, we slowly but surely and diligently climbed it, part by part till we properly attained it back again up to the leading. Wow, for me and somebody who’s afraid of heights, and not professional at rock climbing, it was hard but a ton of enjoyment and amazing exercise way too!
When back at the best and at the 7 Cataracts Vista parking large amount, we waited for the ultimate customers to securely return, then by 12:15pm we obtained back into our cars to generate the relaxation of the way up to Mount Lemmon for lunch at the Iron Door Restaurant. The sights together the way ended up once more, breathtaking as you make your way from elevation 5000 ft on up to the Mount Lemmon Sky Valley, elevation approximately about 8200 toes. Although the signs of the devastating 2003 Aspen fireplace have been noticeable, it was still quite gorgeous and the temperatures by this time of day, very low to mid 80’s and quite interesting and refreshing.
Nonetheless, with the 2.5 hour hold out at the restaurant, because of to it remaining a weekend and also a holiday getaway, we made the decision it was greatest to change around and head back again alternatively.
We arrived back in Tucson at about 2pm and soon after an great lunch at a minimal cafe referred to as Renee’s Natural Oven on Tanque Verde Street, we arrived back again at the Westin La Paloma Vacation resort by 4pm, wherever those people of us who had just came down for the day, headed back again to Phoenix from there to return household again by about 6pm.
In all, it was seriously an remarkable canyoneering exploration and waterfall mountaineering journey with the TLC Mountaineering Team, very carefully investigated, well prepared and considered by to the very last detail by Eric Kinneman himself. Truly experienced it all, amazingly beautiful, remarkable, nevertheless also extremely complicated. I assume that this hike is most effective summed up nevertheless in Eric Kinneman’s individual phrases in which he quotes, “The 7 Cataracts Waterfall Journey Hike is an astounding hike that I really advise folks taking. It will exam your fears, give you an incredible exercise and take you via some spectacular canyons, and a 100 foot waterfall and swimming hole, seldom found by any one. What additional could anyone inquire for!”