Catalina Mountains In Tucson AZ
Mountains On The North & Northwest Areas of Tucson
The Catalina Mountains are on the north and northeast edge of Tucson Arizona. The Catalina Mountains are officially the Santa Catalina Mountains. Many locals just call them the “Catalinas”.
The Catalina Mountain range is the most prominent of the 5 mountain ranges surrounding Tucson. The other ranges are the Tucson Mountains, Tortolita Mountains, Rincon Mountains and Santa Rita Mountains.
The highest point in the Catalinas is Mount Lemmon at an elevation of over 9,147 feet above sea level. The peaks of the Catalina Mountains and Mount Lemmon receive about 180 inches of snow each year.
Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is also there. The ski area is the southernmost ski destination in the United States. Also, the village of Summerhaven is on Mount Lemmon.
The Catalina Mountains are part of the Coronado National Forest. CNF is managed by the Santa Catalina Ranger District. The Catalina Mountains are a prominent range in the Madrean sky islands. The Madrean Region is in the northeast perimeter of the Sonoran Desert of and the United States.
A trip from the Tucson valley to Mt. Lemmon takes you from 2,000 to about 9,000 feet, with scenery that resembles a trip from the Mexican to the Canadian border.
The Catalina Mountains provides residents with many recreational areas. One of those is Sabino Canyon. One of the favorite activities is hiking.
Sabino Canyon is on the east side of Tucson. It is a unique experience. Its streams and perennial pools seem out of place in the desert. The canyon brings visitors from all over the world to embrace it beauty.
Flowing streams and waterfalls in the desert. It seems odd, but its true. Sabino Canyon has a day-hiking access point to the mountains. Pack a lunch, bring water and wear comfortable shoes.
Catalina State Park sits at the western foothills of the Catalina Mountains. In 2013, the Catalina Bighorn Advisory Committee was formed to restore Bighorn sheep in the Catalina Mountains.
Bighorn sheep were released into the Catalina Mountains in two groups. One in November 2013 and in the fall of 2014. As of July2015, there are 40 Bighorn sheep roaming the Catalina Mountains and again bringing their majestic images to the area.
The Catalina Foothills is a residential area north of Tucson. Not surprisingly, the area sits in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Find homes in the Catalina Foothills.
Trails And More Trails
Sabino Canyon Trail
The Sabino Canyon Recreation area is one of the most visited outdoor sites in Tucson. Hikers are estatic with this 8-mile (round trip) trail. It is a hiker “friendly” trail suitable for the most experienced to the least.
Mt. Lemmon Meadow Loop
This easy, 1.5-mile (round trip) loop through tall pine trees at the top of the mountain. It offers wonderful views of Tucson and Oro Valley and features views of an active lookout tower.
Romero Pools Trail
This 5.5-mile hike (round trip) is in the Catalina State Park in Oro Valley. It is a moderate effort hike with a superb picnic site and scenic views. The swimming hole has slippery rocks and deep pools.
Blackett’s Ridge Trail
This moderate, 7-mile (round trip) hike may be a bit intense for first timers. The trail follows a narrow, sheer-walled ridge overlooking Sabino Canyon northeast of Tucson. It provides an exhilarating workout and great views.
Finger Rock Trail
This trail is NOT for the novis hiker. It is a strenuous 6-mile (round trip) hike. It starts out easy for the first mile, and then gets harder as the trail begins to steepen. The trailhead is at the north end of Alvernon Way and offers spectacular views of the city.
Ventana Canyon Trail
Another challenging hike for well trained hikers. It is a 6.4-mile hike that begins at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The trail provides a rugged and steep trail up Ventana Canyon. The hike is tough, but at the top of the peak is a spectacular rock arch.
One More Thing – Permits
If you have not hiked these trails before, look into getting a map or hiking guide. Most hiking-camping supply stores will have maps or hiking guides.
Another option is to contact local hiking groups for suggestions. The Summit Hut and Southern Arizona Hiking Club are good places to start.
Last, but not least, check with the Coronado National Forest about hiking permits. They are necessary to hike in some areas.
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