Arizona is an incredibly gorgeous, wildly various state with topography ranging from minimal level desert landscapes, to higher mountain peaks and alpine forest ranges. Extra than any other geologic aspect even though, Arizona is extensively renowned for its many wonderful and remote rock canyons, deep slot gorges, water falls and pools which are scattered through the condition. Nevertheless, what I uncover even far more wonderful, is that many of these backcountry wilderness canyons can be accessed by “non-specialized” canyon climbing routes which you should not have to have ropes and are literally within just a one day’s trip from possibly Phoenix or Tucson. For an outstanding late summer months to early slide working day excursion and hike, if you might be up for extra of an remarkable obstacle and an amazing and scenic day trip, then get a mountain sliding, canyoneering hiking experience to Seven Cataracts, and investigate Willow Canyon, Tucson, Arizona.
It was the Labor Working day holiday and early on Sunday early 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 Street exit, I swung off the freeway and took a still left, heading east 8 miles, and fulfilled up with the TLC Climbing Team, led and organized by Eric Kinneman, at the Westin La Paloma Vacation resort and arrived by 8am. Mainly because the parking was stated to be limited at the trailhead for this hike, we carpooled it alongside one another and set out for the day’s hike and journey heading east on Dawn Blvd. by 8:25am.
The stunning generate on Dawn Blvd across the northern stretches of Tucson and via the rolling foothills of the beautiful Santa Catalina mountains has usually been a preferred of mine. The Santa Catalina Mountains are Tucson’s best mountain array reaching all the way up to 9157 toes in elevation at its extremely top, Mount Lemmon. To get there and to access the trailhead for our hike, we zig zagged it across Tucson, driving east on Dawn Blvd to Swan Road, turned ideal (south), to River Highway, turned still left (east), then a correct on to Sabino Canyon Road, remaining on to Tanque Verde Highway and headed east on Tanque Verde Street till we attained the Catalina Highway, aka the “Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway”, and then turned still left once again.
It was about 4 miles or so after producing the left change on to the Catalina Freeway that you enter the Coronado National Forest and get started the winding ascent up into the rugged Santa Catalina mountains. While it truly is been a long time given that I was very last there, I was still stunned at just how wonderful and stunning this generate definitely is. Straight away as you head on up in elevation starting at 3000 ft, the views are definitely breathtaking with every single switchback and hairpin curve giving a new and awesome rock development or beautiful canyon vista off to the distance. If you like to quit and get a great deal of photos, as I normally like to do, you have a lot of possibility to do so mainly because this generate offers a range of vista details to get pleasure from together the way. However, at about mile marker 5, just previous the Molino Canyon Ignore, there is a fork out station exactly where you need to invest in a $5 Coronado Countrywide Forest day use recreation pass if you happen to be setting up on stopping any where further more alongside the push. We bought the day use passes, one just about every for each automobile and journeyed on for 3 a lot more miles right up until we arrived at the Seven Cataracts Vista Level, just previous Thimble Peak Vista and about at about mile marker 8 and about 1/3 of the way up to Mount Lemmon.
We pulled into the 7 Cataracts Vista position, and our trailhead, parked and began out on our day’s mountaineering and canyoneering adventure by 9am. The perspective seeking down into Willow Canyon under was definitely gorgeous, but also unbelievably steep as well! Promptly, suitable from the beginning, the fall off into Willow Canyon on this “working day use” path was extreme, to say the quite least. Approximated to be around about a 1000-1300 ft descent straight down with a 60% quality on all unfastened grime, gravel and rocks, every single one of us had to actually drop down to the floor on our “butts” and from area to section, slide it on down for about a full of a ¼ of a mile right up until we experienced created down to the bottom. What a web page it was to see too, definitely exciting and a good deal of enjoyment! On the other hand, this “non-official” trail, mainly employed by seasoned canyoneers, is rated incredibly tricky, some even say treacherous or hazardous, so I would not advise accomplishing this hike on your have unless of course you are an professional canyon hiker or have an experienced canyon hiking tutorial with you.
As soon as we had all safely slid our way down and arrived at the bottom and following a speedy group photo, Eric started main our team on our canyoneering exploration even more down into Willow Canyon, scrambling, boulder hopping and class 3 climbing through partly jogging water falls. Seriously lovely and stunning surroundings all the way down way too! We continued on for about a ¼ mile where we experienced attained a actually awesome running falls and liked the option to great off, relaxation and take pleasure in the peaceful tranquility and magnificence of this remote and lesser recognised wilderness canyon. In the meantime, Eric, alongside with numerous other adventurous associates, journeyed on for another 1/3 to ¼ mile, and after more scrambling, boulder hopping and class 3-4 climbing, reached a lovely 100 foot h2o slide and a larger swimming hole deep adequate he said that even with a soar off a 10 foot cliff, they could not hit bottom! Remarkable!
Just after about an hour or so crack, we determined it was time to start off making our way back again. Now it was time for the most demanding element of our canyoneering experience, earning it back again! So we commenced our trek back as a result of Willow Canyon the identical way we came, scrambling, boulder hopping, wading by way of the swimming pools, then climbing it again up by the water tumble. It only took a quick time although and inside of minutes we experienced all created it properly back again up and to the base of the aspect of the hill we had originally “slid” down on earlier. It was below that we achieved again up with Eric then broke up into two groups. You could determine to both make the ascent in the very same spot you arrived down with the 60% grade on all unfastened dust and gravel, where Eric claimed it was for each 3 measures up, a slide of a single or two back again. Or my pal Dan made the decision it looked like if you took it up a tiny further down to the left, you could much more very easily climb it straight up the rocks and cliff and up to the major. So myself, together with numerous other members followed Dan’s direct and hand around foot, we slowly and gradually and thoroughly climbed it, segment by section until we safely and securely achieved it back again up to the major. Wow, for me and anyone who’s scared of heights, and not seasoned at rock climbing, it was hard but a ton of enjoyable and incredible workout much too!
When back again at the prime and at the Seven Cataracts Vista parking whole lot, we waited for the final members to properly return, then by 12:15pm we got back again into our cars to drive the relaxation of the way up to Mount Lemmon for lunch at the Iron Door Cafe. The sights along the way were being all over again, spectacular as you make your way from elevation 5000 ft on up to the Mount Lemmon Sky Valley, elevation roughly about 8200 toes. Although the signals of the devastating 2003 Aspen hearth were obvious, it was even now quite lovely and the temperatures by this time of day, low to mid 80’s and incredibly cool and refreshing.
Having said that, with the 2.5 hour hold out at the restaurant, owing to it getting a weekend and also a getaway, we determined it was greatest to change all-around and head again instead.
We arrived back in Tucson at about 2pm and after an fantastic lunch at a very little cafe referred to as Renee’s Organic and natural Oven on Tanque Verde Road, we arrived again at the Westin La Paloma Resort by 4pm, where by those people of us who had just arrived down for the working day, headed back again to Phoenix from there to return house once again by about 6pm.
In all, it was definitely an extraordinary canyoneering exploration and waterfall hiking experience with the TLC Mountaineering Team, meticulously investigated, well planned and believed by way of to the last element by Eric Kinneman himself. Genuinely experienced it all, surprisingly gorgeous, exciting, still also pretty demanding. I feel that this hike is greatest summed up even though in Eric Kinneman’s own words in which he quotes, “The Seven Cataracts Waterfall Experience Hike is an incredible hike that I hugely endorse people taking. It will check your fears, give you an remarkable exercise routine and acquire you via some superb canyons, and a 100 foot waterfall and swimming gap, rarely found by anybody. What a lot more could everyone check with for!”