by Contributing Writer RJ Brenner
Some months ago, as an avid hiker of Tucson’s west side trails, I offered my perceptions of a then recently completed trail at Painted Hills, a new section of Pima County Recreation and Parks Department’s trail system. As a result of that posting, I’ve since combined my interests in hiking and desert gardening by joining the team of volunteers with the county parks department who revegetate trails.
Who knew people did that? Build trails…yes, but revegetate trails? Yep! My first foray occurred at the invitation of the Pima County Parks Trail Supervisor, Neil Stitzer. And thanks to him, I discovered a new passion and a new park that keeps revealing its many hidden treasures to me. Since last summer, I’ve introduced many ‘buddies’ to EH and its trail system and I hope to entice you too.
For those of you who don’t know, the Enchanted Hills trailhead & parking are located at the western end of W. 36th Street. Easy to find as it’s a dead-end! From there, hikers can access not only the previously existing trails, like that to Cat Back Mountain but also the trails in the new 80-acre EH park which opened last summer.
In these uncertain times, keeping a positive mental attitude is critical and for me, that means getting out on the trails. This past month has been spectacular — the weather has been perfect and wildflowers are prolific this season. I’ve been sharing picture after picture of our incredible desert blooms with friends across North America and thought to share them here too.
The eastern end of the Enchanted Hills trail system ranks as couch-potato easy. So if you’re tired of being cooped up and suffering from ‘social distancing’ fatigue, now is the time to rise up!
The Ocotillo ‘sticks’ are in full bloom so don’t wait to get out there or you’ll miss them. Blue, orange, yellow, white, and pink blooms dot the landscape. I bring this wildflower book along to help me identify the blooms — after all, ’m only an armchair ‘flora-ista’. Here are a few of the plants that I know the names of … Blue Delphiniums, orange and lavender Mallow, yellow Brittle Bush, white Prickly Poppies and orange California poppies, and white Pincushions (flowers not cacti) and the very tiniest white specks carpeting the ground that look like snow … Desert Easter Bonnets and Star Daisies. (Hover your mouse over the slides to see the plant name.)
You can also download the app for Android and Apple. It’s called PlantSnap. PlantSnap identifies plants more accurately if it has a distinguishable flower in it. Bushes, not so much.
Happy Spring everyone!
If you would like to volunteer, please contact: Neil.Stitzer@pima.gov