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Seven Falls, Santa Catalina Mountains

Summary: A moderate climb to a nice series of waterfalls. This hike is probably best done in spring after recent rains.
Directions: From I-10 take the Ina (pronounced eye-na) Road exit #248 near Tucson. Turn east onto Ina Road and follow it as it becomes Skyline Drive and then Sunrise Drive. After 14.5 miles, when you reach the end of Sunrise Drive and a stop sign, turn left. The Sabino Canyon Visitors Center and parking lot are immediately on your right. There is a $5 per car entry fee ($20 for an annual pass).
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Easy
Length: 8.5 miles
Date Hiked: April, 2005
Weather Conditions: Sunny & windy
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the large parking lot, pick up the trail to Bear Canyon (Trail #29) which starts behind the bathrooms. The path is wide and flat as it heads east through the creosote flats of the bajada. Soon you'll reach a road, turn right and walk down the road a short distance to where a path parallels it on the right (you can walk on the road or the trail, but the trail is a little nicer). The path crosses 2 washes and 0.7 miles after starting, crosses the road once again to reach a junction with the left branching Phoneline Trail #27, stay right on the Bear Canyon Trail. The path passes through typical desert vegetation consisting of: mesquite, creosote bush, palo verde, saguaro, prickly pear, cholla, and ocotillo. At the 1.2 mile point you'll reach a sign for Bear Canyon Rd. which is 0.5 miles to the right and Bear Canyon, which is 0.3 miles to the left, turn left and left again 0.1 miles later at a sign for Seven Falls. At the 1.5 mile point (1.7 miles according to the map below) you'll reach the end of Bear Canyon Rd. and a sign pointing up canyon for the East Fork and Sycamore Reservoir Trails which are 6.5 miles away (6.8 miles on the map). Continue up the trail which winds it's way up Bear Canyon at a very mild grade on one side of the stream (flowing when the author was here) or the other. The trail eventually crosses over to the right (facing up canyon) and climbs a distance above the streambed at a comfortable grade until you reach an obvious left branching spur trail and sign for Bear Canyon Trail (pointing straight). Turn left onto this spur trail, which descends to the stream bed and crosses it to the Seven Falls (4.25 miles). You can reach the second fall by climbing up the canyon on the left (watch your footing, the rocks are polished and smooth) and if you're feeling adventurous (and you're a good climber), do a somewhat more difficult climb up on the right to reach the second (and best) falls. When ready return the way you came (8.5 miles).
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed the hike to the falls in about 1.5 hours as part of a longer loop hike using Bear Canyon and the Phoneline trail.
Maps: Santa Catalina Mountains - Rainbow Expeditions Inc., available in the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center ($6). Recommended!
Books: None used
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Heading up Bear Canyon. Seven Falls. Fall #2.