Hiking Report: February

by Jeremy Davis Friday, February 1st 2013


February in Tucson and in Southern Arizona tend to be a great time to get outdoors to play in your favorite venue.  Whether it is hiking, biking, trail running or simply just getting outside to enjoy the weather and awesome landscape to relieve the stresses of our everyday lives.  One of the things that we most often forget is that we have so many areas and trails nearby to get outside that take no time at all hit the trail.  This is the focus of the article this month for a variety of reasons to include, limited time to hit the outdoors, and sticking to the lower elevations to stay comfortable with the varying weather conditions February can bring.

Tip:  Watch the weather!  Staying low in the valley has many excellent advantages though the low lying areas hiking trails typically are in drainages from high above.  Though this can bring some wonderful experiences to see the water flow over the desert floor, it can create hazards for the hiker and walker.  So, keep abreast of the weather in the Tucson valley, but also watch the weather in the mountain ranges.  February has the ability to throw you a curve ball with respect to weather and rainfall, so be aware.  This information can be obtained by simply looking at the mountain ranges for rain clouds, but also take into consideration the weather that happened in the past.  If it rained the day before your adventure, perhaps water will be flowing and keep you from completing your hike because of water crossings.  The other thing to consider is the snow melt from high above.  We have had some nice snow on our mountain ranges, but as the temperatures warm up water will be flowing in the drainages.  Much like always in the desert, conditions can change, so make sure when heading up the trail that you have the appropriate clothing and gear.

Gear:  When heading out and reviewing what your potential conditions might be for your adventure, always make sure you are ready for the worst case.  If there are no clouds, no need to take a rain jacket but keep in mind your length of time out in the wilderness.  One of the items you may want to consider when heading out to make your adventure more comfortable might be Gaiters for your footwear.  If you have trail running shoes, take a look the Salomon S-Lab Gaiters.  If you have low to mid hiking boots, you may want to consider the Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiter.  Each of these keep the sand, rocks and basically crud out of your footwear so you don’t have to stop and shake out sand or rocks.  If you don’t have a daypack already or you think you may want to explore a new one, check out the new Camelbak hydration packs or Osprey day packs.  These are made to hold hydration reservoirs and a small amount of gear to make your day hike great.  As always pack a headlamp like the Black Diamond 110 Lumen Revolt.  Pack food appropriate for the length of you hike and perhaps some power food to keep handy if you need extra energy.

Destinations:  To keep with the theme in February and staying close to home because we have little time to get away, here are a few of our recommendations of varying lengths and difficulties specifically in the Catalina Mountain Range.  These trails are close to home and great for short hikes, longer day hikes and even trail runs.  If you have not been on the Pima Canyon Trail, you are in for a great time and beautiful landscape.  There may be some water running this time of year, so please be careful and dress appropriately.  Another area to explore that often gets overlooks by “hardcore” adventure folks is the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.  This area gets a great deal of traffic, though there are some wonderful areas that you can find yourself in that are easy to get to and great for pictures.  There is water likely running in this area this time of year and the trails cross the water in various spots, so again be careful not to get in the water and do not cross if the flow to too great.  Trails at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area that are recommended would be Seven Falls and Sabino Canyon Trail.  The Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is a fee area though is worth the cost and would recommend the annual pass so that you can enjoy the entire year.  If looking for additional ideas locally or trail descriptions of the above trails, please visit our staff at either of the Summit Hut locations.  Enjoy, and see you on the trail or in the store.

Activities | Events | Gear | Hiking Report | Trails

Hiking Report: January

by Jeremy Davis Monday, December 31st 2012


As I write this, December 31, 2012; Tucson and the surrounding mountain ranges are being pelted with rain and snow.  As I look from the Summit Hut door to the North, The Catalinas are being blanketed with snow to about 4000 feet.  What a spectacular place we live and know that conditions can change on a dime.  Enjoy being outside.

January in Tucson becomes the envy of many across the country, and conditions are perfect for playing in the outdoors. However, if you are anything like most of us, you love having the opportunity to head up into the mountains and play in the snow and ice at least a couple times a year. With weather these days as I write this, snow is falling in Catalinas and the mountains are absolutely beautiful from our Tucson valley. Here are some tips and suggestions for enjoying the outdoors in the new year!  Of course alway be careful as conditions on the mountain ranges can change by the minute, so be prepared!

Above photo of Guthrie Mountain

Tips: As with any adventure in the Desert (whether it be in the snow or in the heat), you must be prepared to bring water.  Many folks don't realize this, but you can dehydrate just as quickly in the cold as you can in the heat.  Also when venturing outdoors in our mountain ranges in the winter time, make sure to pack the appropriate clothing with layers.  Make sure to pack and nice warm puffy jacket in your pack as you head up.  You will be thankful when you stop walking and are able to keep youself warm at your rest times.  Of course, ensure that you let someone know where you are going and when you might be back and always bring a headlamp in case your are out later than you expect.

Gear: If you're hitting the higher elevations, after we've had some rain and snow, a pair of snowshoes makes the inaccessible accessible again! And not only do we sell snowshoes for the whole family, we also rent snowshoes! If you're not worried about snow, but you might encounter some ice, products like the Kathoola Microspikes and a pair of Leki Trekking Poles, will help you stay on your feet.

Sunset on Potatoc Ridge Trail

Destinations: If you're looking for a nice snowshoing adventure, heading out any of the trailheads along Catalina Highway just after a nice snowfall will offer great views and a great experience. Another awesome winter experience, although only recommended for those comfortable with winter backcountry hiking, is the trek to the summit of Mount Wrightson. Wrightson is the highest peak in southern Arizona and is likely to have ice and snow from the first winter storm, well into March. This is a trip where trekking poles, microspikes AND snowshoes are just about a requirement in winter. Lower elevation destinations such as Milagrosa Canyon offer pleasant temperatures. However, be aware that water levels may be higher than normal depending on recent rain and snow-melt.

Some General Resources to keep handy: 

-Seasonal road/day use closures went into effect Dec. 17 - Road Closures (the list of roads is in this is nice – who can remember?) – also has some notes about lower elevation open recreation sites.

-Calling (520) 547-7510 for General Hitchcock Highway conditions/closures or better yet are the community updates on http://www.pimasheriff.org/ or http://www.facebook.com/pimasheriff 

Hiking Report | News

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!