Thursday, December 27, 2012

Trail Review: Hugh Norris Trail

Today we hiked part of the Hugh Norris Trail.  The sign at the trail head tells us:
  • The Hugh Norris trail is long, difficult, and quite spectacular.  The trail, named after a former chief of the Tohono O'odham Indian Police, begins with a series of switchbacks to the top of a ridge overlooking the saguaro forest.  From there it ascends along the ridge, through areas with splendid views and unique rock formations, to the top of Wasson Peak.
All of the above is true, but what is not mentioned is the stairs.  About 10 years ago, steps were put in to control erosion.  They persist for about the first mile of the trail.  They're not too bad going up, but I found them to be painful on the knees going downhill.
It is a gorgeous hike.  The views from the heights are just spectacular.  See the blue squares off in the distance?  That's where the CAP water goes, and is allowed to percolate down to recharge the aquifer. 

More climbing, more stairs!

After you reach the big rock formations, the steps end, and the trail becomes a side hill goat track.  That's the trail on the right side of the photo.  In the distance is the trail heading up Wasson Peak.  We turned around here, because we'd decided we would do one hour out max.

This is taken from the saddle where many people stop to take in the view.  Is it not lovely?  The pointy peak on the left side is Cat Mountain.

This is a big boulder.

Look how dark the sky is getting in the far horizon.

At the bottom of the trail, it was becoming positively ominous.

Rain out in the desert.

By the time we got home, we had a full blown squall going through the park.  If I had been 30 seconds earlier, I would have had Jamie's basil in my hands before it blew over.  It's fine, no blood, no foul.

I don't know if we'll do this hike again.  The stairs are really a bear on the knees.  The heights and spacing are totally random, so you can't get a rhythm going with your stride. Once you're past the steps, it's not bad at all.  From the trail head to the top of Wasson Peak is 4.9 miles.

1 comment:

  1. so that is where that great photo came from! It hurts my knees just to think abut it... but I might have to do that hike just once... I hope. Happy New Year!