Mt. Wasson Adventure Timeline
1. Our Presidents' Day trip begins at the west end of Camino del Cerro and the beginning of the Sweetwater trail.
2. Cousins Kathy and Judy and husband Ray join me. Horses allowed, no dogs.
3. Our goal is to hike to the saddle where the Sweetwater trail meets the King Canyon trail, then hike down the westside where the parking lot is just a stone’s throw away from the Desert Museum.
4. Off on our hike we run across a few wildflowers, and are excited about that. Lupine, poppies, desert chicory scatter the area. Anyone name this one? Arizona Jewel Flower maybe? Read More
5. The head of the Sweetwater trail is a tenth of a mile or so past the parking lot, a registration sign and fence that marks public land. The Thunderbird trail heads north, past State Land, some mines, and eventually to Painted Rock Road, about a 4.5 mile easy hike. To the south heads the Sweetwater trail.
6. Ray tells a story that he read about the original trail, south of this trail, where the residents would not give permission to pass, so the parking lot at Camino del Cerro was formed.
7. Along the way you may be able to make out old mining roads and perhaps some other man made signs of civilization. The trail is well worn, but probably the least used one of the trails from the meeting point of the Hugh Norris trail, the longest, and King Canyon trail, the shortest. The elevation here is 5466 ft.
8. The trail is what true hikers might call moderate. It starts out easy, undulating past saguaro, a particular crested one. Be sure to take plenty of water and go early if the day is to be warm. This is February. This year the wildflowers are appearing early or seem to be.
9. You may see a Gila Monster or rattlesnake along the way, although February is a bit early for either.
10. At the top of the saddle, Kathy and Ray stop to take pictures of the Avra Valley on the other side. The poppies are beginning to warm up in the late morning sun and show their Awesome carpet of color.
11. We stop for lunch here and determine who of us would like to run the rest of the way up the mountain and back before the rest of us finish lunch. The final ascent is an elevation gain of approximately 1000 ft. and .3 miles which makes it the most strenuous part of the hike.
12. I, counting on lunch at the desert museum, bring a granola bar and 2 Honey Crisp apples, which I consider the best, their sweet juiciness, a delight after a thirsty hike. I had brought 2 pints of water, and for a time, thought, not enough. I made it down with a pint to spare. Judy brings a picnic lunch. So, dessert at the desert museum.
13. None of us were too excited to take on the summit, although we all joked that if ,Jim, Kathy and Judy’s father were here, he would goad us on to the top.
14. We headed down the backside where the sign said nothing about King Canyon, but the Ma-ma gah picnic area, named after a Tohono Indian Chief.
15. Wildflowers carpeted the trail, hawks flew in the breeze, a welcome relief, although the temperature did not hit 70 that day.
16. At the picnic area which was above our trail, there is a stone house, formerly an outhouse it would appear. Looks like a perfect hideout for Snakes and other critters.
17. Below this, in the wash, down about 50 yards or so, below a natural dam, are many petroglyphs. We were excited, as though we were the first to discover them. Not at all like the short hike to the signal hill petroglyphs, these appear to be undiscovered, just waiting.
18. While poking around these rocks, we came upon an old timer, who said he spent the last 16 or so winters here. He told us of some Indian grinding holes up the way a bit. I heard matata, like in the lion King. Metate is the word. Thinking that the wash was probably 10-20 lower, 800 years ago, these Metate would have been above any water flowing downstream.
19. We headed back up to the trail and down to the parking lot, across from the Desert Museum. It meets up with the wash, so either trail will do.
20. Watch for cars as you cross the street to the Desert Museum parking lot. President’s day, being a beautiful day, was the most crowded that I hae ever seen the museum. At 1:30 the line was fairly short, where I renewed my yearly pass, having gone up in price to $65 since we first visited, 10 years ago. Only 3 guests passes for an annual pass. Luckily, I had three guests. We stopped for a respite at the museum snack shop before heading off to the Harris’ Hawk show at 2:00pm. It had spread out since the last time I had been, taking up the three tiers to Cat Canyon. A docent, trainer, stood atop one of the tiers and invited a hawk to perch.
21. Then off to the hummingbird aviary, where the little critters were nesting their babies. No less than 6 nests did I see. Mama’s all sitting on eggs or feeding babies. I am sure they were there, but so small, so crowded, I left it to my imagination and did not take pictures. If you go, go early and during the week. Seeing those little critters is a treat.
Afterwards, we headed out, it being happy hour and dog feeding time. Called the hubby, your blogger, to come fetch us from the other side of the hill. We waited in the warmth of the sun of the Avra Valley.