An up and down trail through thick stands of saguaro cacti that provides incredible views and wildflowers. Nestled in between the would-be valley separating the Catalinas and Rincons actually stands a rather tall peak or hill, if you will, named Agua Caliente Hill. From the right perspective it is obvious, from others you would never even know it's there. Well it's there and there is actually a very nice trail to the summit, though this trail is not even mentioned on the Coronado National Forest website trail directory.
Aqua Caliente means “hot water” in Spanish. Aqua Caliente Hill, Springs, and Wash are all named for the hot springs in the area with “tonic qualities of a highest order”.
Our hikes are generally at a pace conducive to social banter of interest to heathens, and allowing for time for photography of the local geology and wildlife. However, since this is an out-n-back trail route, hikers may choose their own pace and distance. We will all turn around and return at a predetermined, agreed upon time or, using walkie talkies, at whatever time we otherwise unanimously agree upon while on the trail. Expect this hike to last about 3-4 hours
From the trailhead cruise straight through a hikers gate and immediately start switchbacking up the near foothills to access the ridge north. You gain elevation quickly and the views of everything are immediate. The trail is well-maintaned. You have a strange top of the world feel on this hike as you can almost always see the whole range of the Catalinas and Rincons. The trail scrambles along rigdes, foothill summits and through drainages for about 1.5 miles.
At this point you descend to a cleared out grassy area, with a dry pond bed to your left. The trail splits here. Follow a small cairn and go right here, otherwise there are no challenges in navigation here. The trail continues a slightly more earnest climb up and along smaller canyons, crosses the drainage and starts a climb up the ridge to a saddle located 3 miles out. This will likely be farther than many of us will go since this will already be a 1000 ft. elevation gain .
If you choose to go farther a sign at the saddle tells you to go right and follow the trail north and up. Forest Service Road (not a road) scrambles off to the west. From here it is 1.5 miles to the summit where it will be a total 2475 ft. elevation gain.
The climb picks up intensity and heads straight for a grass covered peak. You scramble along a ridge to the base of the peak. Final push to the summit is all that's left. This however is no small task. This last push is a bruiser, hands-on thighs huffing and puffing to the top (hamstring singing along all the while). Here fantastic panoramic views greet you in all directions: Catalinas, Rincons, Galiuros, even Pinalenos in the horizon.
Distance: probably 5-6 miles TBD by hiker
Time: about 4 hours
Difficulty: intermediate and up TBD by hiker
Trailhead Elevation: 2900
Elevation gain: 800 and up TBD by hiker.
Parking: paved lot . . no facilities
Entry fees: none
Dogs: OK on leash
Always carry and drink plenty of water!
Sunscreen and insect repellent is advised.
Supportive footwear is also advisable.
SAFETY FIRST… we have no medical provisions.
Hike at your own risk.
Directions to trail: From I-10 take Speedway in Tucson east to N. Houghton Rd. Turn left onto Houghton and after 2 miles turn right onto Fort Lowell. This becomes E. Camino Achu. Follow this until nearly the end, into a development where Camino Remuda breaks off to the left. Take this and stay left as smaller roads go right. Follow it to the end. It veers left just before a large house. The road there is named N. Cam Cantil on Google maps. Eventually it ends at a nice paved parking area on the right.
Google says the trail head is
…120 minutes from the I-10 & 51 (Phoenix) … (128 miles )
… 32 minutes from the I-10 & Speedway ( 18 miles )
CAUTION… re DRIVING DIRECTIONS.
GPS devices often give incorrect information regarding trail head locations and particular routes to them. I recommend following the directions I post on this announcement page. I research the directions thoroughly and try hard to be sure they are correct and understandable..
I have learned that in the email that you receive telling you that you are “confirmed for” the event, there is a link to “Directions” found underneath the event location… which often gives incorrect information. I don’t know why nor how to fix or control it. I do try hard to be sure that the (map) link on the announcement page is correct.
MESSAGE FOR CARPOOLERS:
Carpooling can save gas money but also enhance the social experience. If you’d like to carpool, you must contact others for arrangements. You could email members or post comments on this announcement page.
Following the hike: We will reconvene for rehydration and food locally
…. THEN optionally visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
HERE ARE PHOTOS FROM OUR VISIT TO THE MUSEUM IN 2012
From the trailhead it is 30 MILES – 54 MINUTES TO MUSEUM
To get there . . Return to Speedway and take it 9 miles east of I-10 (the road will change names to Gates Pass Rd.) to McKinney and go right 2-3 miles to the museum.
This is the 2ND of what may be from 1-5 hikes over 1-4 days depending on each individual hiker’s preferences. Hikers participating in several hikes are encouraged to use overnight lodging in Tucson to long tiring drives from Phoenix.
These hikes will be all be dog friendly… and we will be sleeping in dog-friendly locations. Some will be in motels and others in campgrounds.
Two hotels which accommodate doggies are
Best Western Royal Sun
and La Quinta (some including Tammy , Casey ,and Al are staying here Fri, Sat & Sun nights)
I encourage those of you interested to share what opportunities you uncover for camping together with the dogs.