Hike on the Pima Canyon Trail
To get to the trailhead for Pima canyon, you drive up first avenue up toward northwest Tucson. When you reach Ina road, the street changes names from North 1st Avenue to North Christie road. Keep on this same road with a different name until it ends at East Magee Road. Take East magee Road east until it deadends in about a block or two, with the trailhead parking on the right side. If you're coming from Oro Valley coming down Oracle road, then you can just turn onto East magee Road, and take it until it deadends. The parking area has one of those tire puncture features in one of the two places where you enter the parking. Don't drive in the "out" lane, or your tires will be punctured. Really not sure why they care so much if you drive in the "in" lane, but apparently somebody really cares. You have been warned, heed the warning and save your tires. The name of this trailhead parking area Is the Iris O. Dewhirst Pima Canyon Trailhead. It's a nice large parking lot, but there is no water nor bathrooms at the trailhead, so be prepared. There are several good eating establishments with bathrooms available on Oracle road and Ina road nearby where you can stop in before you get to the trailhead.
It was a beautiful cloudy day when I hiked on this trail. The temperature was in the mid 60's and with a light breeze blowing and it was a perfect day for hiking. The whole trail gains over 3300 feet in nearly 6 miles, so I didn't really expect to complete the trail starting at nearly 11AM, plus I stopped several times to catch my breath. The trail becomes steeper as you approach the PIMA saddle. I didn't get that far before I turned around, because I prefer to hike during the daylight when I'm hiking alone. I made it about 5 miles in before I turned around, but I had to hike fast to get in 10 miles before I ran out of daylight. I estimate that I had an accumulated elevation gain of a little more than 2,000 feet, leaving the really steep part in the last 7 tenths of a mile that gains about 1,300 feet undone.
The main idea is to get fresh air, good exercise that is a good experience and is good for me, and is a pleasant pastime. In Arizona in the winter most years, the temperatures are quite pleasant for outside exercise, including hiking, walks, bicycling, backpacking, etc.
The trail is a dirt trail mostly, but it was rock and sand quite a bit of the way. Mostly it was not steep, but there were a few spots where it was steep for a few feet, but not bad.
I took a subway sandwich when I went on the hike. I ate about half of the sandwich when I was about half way up the canyon to raise my blood sugar without having to exercise on a full stomach, and then I ate the other half at the point where I turned around about 5 miles up the canyon. If you take this hike, don't forget to bring plenty of water, because the high desert is dry and you'll need at least 48 to 64 ounces of water, and probably even more than that per person.
The first part of the canyon, you feel like you're just hiking in the catalina foothills, and the canyon is wide open and you can see quite a bit of Tucson looking back south. There is quite a bit of cactus and desert foliage, and sand and rock, with a few small arroyos to cross where the water is shed off the walls of the canyon, most of which are bone dry most of the time. There are plenty of rocks to hop over in the trail, so you should definitely have treking poles for stability and to protect your knees. As you go deeper into the canyon, you leave sight of Tucson in the distance, and you feel more like you are in an isolated world of it's own. I was hiking in the early part of December, and you can see in the pictures that I ran across a tarantula along the trail. This is very unusual in early December. Usually, these large spiders have gone underground by late October or early November. I think the next time I attempt Pima Canyon, I will take my tent and sleeping bag, and I'll plan to camp near Pima saddle the first night, and make a 2 or 3 day camping trip out of it.
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Last Update: January 6, 2015
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