Sabino Canyon, Santa Catalina
||An interesting loop hike (half on-trail, half off-trail)
through the main fork of Sabino Canyon. This trip requires some climbing and
swimming, but offers some great scenery and solitude as the reward. Be aware
that the rocks on the off-trail portion of the trip are very slick. Care is
required and shoes with good traction won't hurt either. This hike is best
done in warm weather.
||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).
||Starting from the visitor center - 12.5 miles
Taking the shuttle to the Sabino Canyon Road end - 5 miles
Tickets for the shuttle are $7.50 per person (as of this writing). The
shuttle runs until 5pm.
||Sunny & warm
||If starting from the Visitors Center, simply walk up the
paved road. It's 3.8 miles to the end and there are a few interpretive signs
along the way. Once at the end of the road (3.8 miles) pick up the Sabino
Canyon Trail as it heads up a series of steps to switchback steeply up the
hillside. After 0.5 miles you'll reach a junction with the right branching
Phoneline Trail (4.2 miles), turn left (remaining on the Sabino Canyon
Trail) which leads upstream at a fairly level grade, high above Sabino
Canyon. Eventually the path drops down into Sabino Basin to the junction
with the East Fork Trail, which heads straight, and the West Fork Trail
which heads left (6.2 miles). Leave the trail at this point and turn left,
walking down stream in the rocky wash. Your route, at this point, is the
same as that taken by the water. Follow the water downstream and soon the
West Fork of Sabino Canyon enters from the right, follow the water left into
the main fork of Sabino. The canyon features some very large boulders, that
will require climbing and route finding to negotiate. The route finding
doesn't come in the form of "Which way did the water go?", you can't get
lost in the steep walled canyon. Instead, you may have to route find around
some drop offs formed by house sized boulders that block your path. Along
the way you will also encounter several pools that you must wade through and
one short swim. Eventually, you will start to see more footprints from those
that have walked upstream from below, and the road will appear on the
hillside on the left. Continue walking until you reach a prominent path
which leads up to the left to a restroom and Bus Stop #7 (8.7 miles). If you
miss this path, don't worry, a short distance later the road itself crosses
the canyon. If you've purchased a shuttle ticket you can ride back to the
visitors center, otherwise follow the road back to your car (12.5 miles).
|Rating (1-5 stars):
The author completed this trip as part of a larger hike on a warm September
day. The pools in Sabino were quite warm in the late afternoon and a welcome
respite from the heat of the day.
||Santa Catalina Mountains - Rainbow
Expeditions Inc., available in the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center ($6).
||Click picture for larger
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