Length: 5.2 mi Out and Back
El Gain: 1615' AEG: 1884
* Rated "D"- Intermediate
** No dogs please
The Soldier Trail starts out with a steep, rocky climb to Soldier Canyon where there are some nice areas to enjoy and explore. Deep crevices and large boulders in the canyon and a nice flat area will make this a good spot for a short rest stop.
This trail follows the route of an old road and power line from the Catalina Highway to the site of a now-abandoned prison camp beside the Highway. (See Prison camp info below)
The camp has been razed and the power line removed, while the road has been closed and is being allowed to return to a natural condition. The trail follows portions of this old route and provides access to an excellent example of Sonoran desert habitat that is conveniently close to Tucson.
As the trail winds up the mountain, it visits a few ridge tops that provide good views back toward the city before dropping into Soldier Canyon, where there are some picturesque waterfalls when the stream is running. The boulder-strewn cascades over which those falls tumble are pleasant to spend a few moments by even when they are dry.
The trail’s rating is moderate, as is its length, and it is relatively easy to follow from beginning to end. In a few places, however, spur paths that lead to overlooks or other off-trail places of interest have developed through repeated use and could prove a bit confusing. The trail ends at a the western limit the old prison camp, from which it is a short walk on the road to a closed gate that marks the trailhead.
Be sure to bring adequate water and snacks.
As always - Hike at Your Own Risk
If you are new to the group please visit these links:
About the Tucson Hiking Meetup Group
Tucson Hiking Meetup Group - No Show Policy
Tips for Beginning Hikers - Sierra Club
Hike Rating Scale
If you have questions or need to reach me:
The "Catalina Federal Honor Camp" (AKA: prison) was established in 1939 to provide prison labor to build the Catalina Highway. During World War II many of the prisoners at the Honor Camp were draft resisters and conscientious objectors. In 1999, the recreation area was renamed for its most famous prisoner, Gordon Hirabayishi, who served 90 days there for challenging the constitutionality of internment of Japanese American citizens.
All of the prisoners at the honor camp had been convicted of Federal crimes, ranging from immigration law violations to tax evasion to bank robbery. During World War II, many of the prisoners at the honor camp were conscientious objectors, such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Hopi Indians, whose religions prohibited them from serving in the military. Some of the prisoners were Japanese Americans protesting the "Japanese American Relocation," the largest forced removal and incarceration in U.S. history.
In 1942, Gordon Hirabayashi was a senior at the University of Washington in Seattle. Instead of reporting for relocation, Hirabayashi turned himself in to the FBI. He challenged the constitutionality of internment and a curfew imposed on Japanese American Citizens, since both were based solely on race or ancestry.