Linda Vista Trail

by Dave Baker Monday, January 11th 2010

The Linda Vista Trail is really a network of three or four trails, all tucked under the north side of Pusch Peak in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. Very easy to access, trailhead parking is just a few hundred yards off Oracle Highway. This is a great place to enjoy a high quality yet short hike; especially for those living or staying in the Oro Valley area.

Along the Linda Vista Trail

Rugged hillside above Linda Vista Trail

The trail traverses a rich Sonoran Desert landscape along the base of mighty Pusch Ridge. Linda Vista delights with quiet little desert nooks, grand views across the Oro Valley area, and just a taste of the rugged and steep hillsides that leap up towards the high reaches of Pusch Ridge. It is wonderful and surprising to find such enjoyable hiking so near civilization.

Oro Valley from the Linda Vista Trail

A view of Oro Valley

Find the trailhead a few hundred yards east of Oracle Road on Linda Vista Blvd (3.1 miles north of Ina Road). The Linda Vista Trail network allows one to put together a variety of hikes, including short in-and-out walks, and longer loop hikes up to about 2.5 miles in length. (At the far end of the main loop, watch for a trail junction marked with a blank, metal sign. An old hiker’s route to the top of Pusch Peak leaves the Linda Vista Trail here and heads uphill into a steep and rocky canyon. This steep and difficult route has a completely different character than the mellow Linda Vista Trail loop.)

Saguaro nursery

Young saguaro cacti sheltered by a palo verde “nurse tree”

Season: Fall, winter and spring. This low elevation hike can be very hot in the summer, take care.

Water: None. Bring your own

Easy to Moderate: The Linda Vista Trail network offers several loop opportunities up to 2.5 miles in length, with a maximum elevation gain of about 480 feet.

Note: Dogs are not permitted in this area.

Maps: Green Trails Santa Catalina Mountains.

Map

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Trails

Saguaro Census 2010

by Dave Baker Wednesday, January 6th 2010

Its census time again. Saguaro National Park is looking for volunteer help to conduct the third Saguaro Census since 1990. The Park conducts a saguaro cactus census every ten years, which curiously coincides with the U.S. national population census.

  Saguaro

This past November, four Summit Hut staff volunteered for census work with the Park as part of our 100 Days of Service program, where Summit Hut donates staff time and labor to local environmental and outdoor causes.

We had a great time counting and measuring cactus, and contributing to the knowledge and understanding of the Park’s saguaro population. Plus we learned a whole lot about the health of our saguaro forests and the local ecology along the way.

The Park could use your help too. Its fun! Six census outings are planned for January, beginning January 8th.

Read more about the Saguaro Census here.

To make a volunteer reservation and get more information, contact Don Swann or Kim Diamond at 520.733.5178, or email Don_Swann@nps.gov

News

Phoneline Trail

by Dave Baker Tuesday, December 29th 2009

There is little doubt that Sabino Canyon is the most visited recreation area in southern Arizona. Surrounded by the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, Sabino Canyon is wild and spectacular, yet very easy to access from the Tucson area. Most visitors ride a commercial tram or walk the road (closed to traffic) that runs four miles along the canyon bottom from the Visitor’s Center. An alternate way to reach the end of the road is to hike the Phoneline Trail, which traverses the steep and rugged canyon wall hundreds of feet above the creek bed.

Phoneline Trail was built in the early 1900's to facilitate the construction of a proposed dam about a mile beyond the end of the current roadway. Happily, the dam was never built. As you travel the trail, watch for a few remaining rusted poles that once supported the phone line for which the trail is named. A long section of the Phoneline Trail is surprisingly level, allowing you to fully enjoy the many commanding views of Sabino Canyon that the trail is well known for.

Thimble Peak

Thimble Peak rises above Sabino Canyon and the Phoneline Trail

There are many ways to enjoy the Phoneline Trail. My favorite is to make a loop by walking up the 5.2 mile Phoneline Trail and then return to the Visitor’s Center via the road in the canyon bottom. This loop is about 9 miles long and involves a 930 foot climb to reach the flattish sections of the trail.

Or, you might chose to purchase tickets at the Visitor’s Center, ride a tram to the end of the road and then walk the Phoneline Trail back to the parking lot. This 5.2 mile walk involves about a 330 foot elevation gain.

You can also create a shorter 3.6 mile loop by taking advantage of the Phoneline Link Trail, which leaves the Phoneline Trail about 1.75 miles from the Visitor’s Center and switchbacks down to the canyon bottom and the road below.

Phoneline Trail

Long sections of the Phoneline Trail are nearly level

Park your car at the entrance of the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, a short drive from mid town Tucson. This is a fee area. To pick up the lower end of the Phoneline Trail leave the east end of the parking lot and follow a wide dirt path east until it joins a paved road. Continue east on the paved road as it swings into the bottom of Sabino Creek and a road junction where a sign will guide you right towards Bear Canyon. Just after crossing Sabino Creek, watch for the trailhead, marked by a sign “Phoneline Tr. #27”. A few steps from the pavement, turn left (north) onto the Phoneline Trail. From this point, it is about 4.5 miles to the end of the trail and the junction with the road’s end in Sabino Canyon.

McFall Crags

McFall Crags seen from the Phoneline Trail

Season: Fall, winter and spring. This hike can be very hot, especially in the summer. (The hike does receive quite a bit of traffic in the summer months; an early start and plenty of water are recommended.)

Water: None. Bring plenty of your own.

Difficulty: Moderate; up to 9 miles with a 930 foot elevation gain.

Maps: USGS Sabino Canyon, AZ ; Green Trails Santa Catalina Mountains; or National Geographic Arizona digital map software.

Map

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Trails

Rutharitas

by Dave Baker Friday, December 4th 2009

In October 2008, I had the good fortune to walk a cross country backpacking loop off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were a party of six, and when it came time to figure out how we would divvy up group gear, trip member Bob Wade kindly volunteered to “bring evening cocktails”. We wisely accepted Bob’s offer, and after the first evening’s happy hour realized we had made a very good decision indeed. The nightly cocktails were a huge hit, and after the trip I begged Bob for the recipe.

Dragon Creek drainage

Working up a thirst in the Dragon Creek drainage

Apparently, a passage mentioning backcountry margaritas in the guidebook we referenced while planning the trip caught Bob’s eye. Thus inspired, one evening Bob recruited his wife Ruth to help concoct a suitable mixture. As Bob later reported, the two spent a pleasant night mixing, taste testing, remixing and taste testing again (and again) before settling upon a splendid and lightweight backcountry margarita mix. Bob admitted, “Ruth did the hard, creative work; I mostly taste tested.”

Ruth's recipe

The evening’s test results

Ruth and Bob have graciously agreed to share their backpackable margarita recipe:

Rutharitas

(Makes sixteen - 8 oz. drinks)

1 package Kool-Aid w/ 1 cup sugar - lemonade flavor

1 tub Crystal Lite (enough to make 2 quarts) - orange flavor

(Combine Kool-Aid, Crystal Lite, and sugar to create powdered drink mix)

12 oz. Tequila

12 oz. EverClear

To make one cocktail:

1 rounded tablespoon of drink mix

¾ oz. (also ½ shot) Tequila

¾ oz. (also ½ shot) Ever Clear

(total of 1 shot or 1 ½ oz alcohol)

1 cup (8 oz) water

Ice (ha ha ha)

 

Bob and Ruth own and operate the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, one of the very finest outdoor specialty stores in all of America. Stop by when you are in the area and say hi.

Gear | Trips

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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