Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hiking the Sendero Esperanza Trail in Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

We went back to the Saguaro National Park today (this time to the west side in the Tucson Mountain District) for another hike, but we first stopped at the Visitor Center…………..

The Red Hills Visitor Center
Here we found very nice exhibits showcasing the plants and animals of this park. We also watched a continuously running film about the spirituality of the Saguaro cactus to Native Americans. The movie provided interesting information, however we would have preferred to learn more about the Saguaro Cactus as a plant. There are also a couple of outdoor patio areas that provide great views of the valley and the forest of Saguaro cacti against the nearby mountains. Lastly, we got some hiking recommendations so off we went………………

Sendero Esperanza Trail
We chose a 3.4 mile roundtrip hike on the Sendero Esperanza Trail which takes you through fields of Saguaro cacti, ironwood and Palo Verde trees and tons of prickle pear cacti. The trail starts right off the Golden Gate Road across from the Ez-Kim-In-Zin Picnic area. The first mile of the trail follows an old sandy mine road and is an easy hike. The last .7 miles is more difficult for you take a series of switch backs to the top of the ridge which is the Hugh Norris Trail. Here you get grand views of the surrounding mountains and distant valleys. Even at various times on the trail, we could smell Javelina in the area but did not see them. This hike took us a little less than 2 hours and overall was a moderate hike. The views at the top are the definite highlights of this hike, but we preferred the Loma Verde hike we took last week on the east side. After the hike, we went to see some Native American petroglyphs…………….

Signal Hill Picnic Area Petroglyphs
Just off the Scenic Bajada Loop Drive is the Signal Hill Picnic area. Immediately from the parking lot there is a small hill made up of boulders. We took the trail over many stone steps and down through a wash area, and soon enough noticed dozens of petroglyphs carved on these boulders that make up the side of the hill. Continuing on the trail, we walked to the top of this hill where there were more petroglyphs just a few feet away. According to the information, these petroglyphs are more than 800 years old and the geometric symbols were the preference of the prehistoric Native American people that once lived in this area. The moderate round trip walk to the top of the hill is .5 miles and is not wheel chair accessible due to the stone stairs. However, the largest portion of petroglyphs can be viewed using binoculars from the parking lot.

No comments:

Follow us by Email

Blog Archive