On a perfect Saturday in February, our friends from New York, Susan & Charlea, went with Ms. Karen, Molly Dog, & me to Catalina State Park in Oro Valley. After paying the $7 entry fee, we found a pleasant picnic area and fortified ourselves before hiking the archeological site on the ridge across the road.
The trailhead to the archeological site is clearly marked across the road from the group picnic area.
Catalina State Park. There may be another saguaro somewhere with more arms, but we have not seen it.
Sometime around 500 C.E. the Hohokam built their village on top of a ridge overlooking what later became known as Canyon de Oro wash. Perhaps as many as 300 people lived here until about 1450. Here they had ample resources: year-round water, game, and plants to live a relatively comfortable life.
The view from atop the ridge on the trail leading to the Romero ruins.
Ms. Karen & Molly check out one of the many interpretive plaques that help us imagine what was once here. Archeologists have excavated this site and found the foundations of simple stone buildings, two ball courts, and many trash mounds. It's the trash that reveal most about the Hohokam who lived here.
Along the trail we found these potsherds, clear evidence of a Hohokam village on this site.
In the 19th century, Francisco Romero and family ranched here. They built their stone buildings on top of the ruins of the Hohokam village. They may have been ignorant of the Hohokam, but certainly would have been all too aware of the Apaches who raided their cattle. Here Susan & Charlea investigate this stone wall that was once part of the Romero family residence.
Canyon Loop Trail in Catalina State Park.
Unbeknown to us, at the same time we were admiring the ruins, our friend Anne Palmer and her friend Theresa were hiking the Canyon Loop Trail. She sent a few photographs to share.
While hiking the Canyon Loop Trail, Anne created this image to illustrate the fact that Catalina State Park accommodates canis familiaris (on leash) and equus caballus, as well as homo sapiens.
Dozens of bird species have been seen in the Park, as well as canis latrans, peccari angulatus, ovis canadensis, and many other native species.
Anne writes: "Teresa and I hiked for about three hours including the walk from and back to the equestrian center, Canyon Loop Trail, part of Sutherland Trail and part of the Nature Trail. Beautiful day. Both park public campgrounds were full as well as the group camp area. The equestrian area was full of trailers and horses. People were on the trails walking, riding horses and the creeks were running. Love this place. It's a great local asset for anyone who loves the desert."