Length: 7.0 mi Lollipop
El Gain approx 400' + -
Start El 2808'
* Rated "C" or "Intermediate"
** No dogs please
DEPART Walgreens at 10:00
Hike STARTS at 10:30
If you wish to car pool to the El Camino del Cerro trail head, a convenient location to meet is at the Walgreens at Oracle and Grant.
There is a Google route map from the Walgreens to the trail here.
This hike will take us on 5 different trails to make our 7 mile "lollipop".
- Start: North on Thunderbird (Lollipop handle)
- North: Gila Monster
- West: Coyote Pass
- South: Picture Rocks Wash
- South: Brittle Bush
- Finish: Thunderbird
Download trail map here.
Map from: Trails Illustrated topographic map for Arizona's Saguaro National Park
I first scouted these trails this past January as a possible MU hike. This will be my second visit to this interesting area. The combination of open desert and wash trails, typical Sonoran Desert vegetation and old mine workings makes for an interesting hike.
There are some sections of steep trail with loose rocks and also a few miles of sandy wash. This will make it challenging for some. But overall, the combined trails are pretty typical of those found in the Tucson Mountains.
The first section of the trail climbs about a half mile to an old mine site. From there we will see the vista pictured below.
Some typical desert scenery in the area of the Gila Monster Mine
We will then drop down to the site of the abandoned Gila Monster Mine and then weave around various peaks using primarily wash trails.
When we reach the intersection of the Coyote Pass and Picture Rocks Wash trails we will have reached our low point in elevation: 2480'
We will then hike up the Picture Rocks Wash to the Brittlebush trail. There we will begin our ascent back up to our starting elevation of 2808'. There are some up-and-down parts of the hike so I had to estimate the accumulated elevation gain (AEG) to be around 400' + - .
Since there is much to see on this hike, we will go at an easy pace and stop for breaks and photos.
Some background on the area.
Back in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, much prospecting was done in the volcanic mountains west of Tucson. Approximately 120 mines and prospects were explored for copper, gold, and silver. According to the National Park Service, the first claim was registered in 1865.
The Gila Monster Mine was developed on a vein of lead, zinc, copper mineralization adjacent to a large block of limestone that was engulfed in the caldera volcanics. Production was minor, but interesting specimens of red-fluorescing calcite and willemite, a zinc silicate (Zn2SiO4) were taken from the mine.
This unnamed mine is just a short distance from the start of the hike.
The Tucson Mountain Unit of Saguaro National Monument covers a portion of the Amole Mining District of Pima County . Geologically, this mountain chain was heaved upward and has many faults and folds. Lava flows, from the volcanics which occurred there, have been stripped off by erosion leaving the underlying rock exposed.
The greater portion of the mountains is igneous rock. Ore bodies occur in veins along the faults and are generally small or of low grade. The most frequently occurring minerals include copper, lead, and silver, but occasionally some other ores such as molybdenum have been mined. In addition limestone on the western side of the range was used to manufacture lime.
Source: National Park Service
Be sure to bring adequate water and snacks.
As always - Hike at Your Own Risk
If you are new to the group please read these:
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: