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.