Monday, February 18, 2013

Saguaro National Park: Cactus Forest Trail

The drive from Picacho Peak to Tucson was uneventful, but the amount of sprawl in Tucson was astonishing. I'd been through Tucson before, on a visit to Saguaro National Park about 11 years ago, but things seemed even more sprawling now. I made the long drive through strip malls and traffic on Broadway until I finally found Old Spanish Trail which I followed into the park.

Once in the park I visited the visitor center and picked up a site bulletin on hiking trails so that I could plan my course of action. Since I didn't have a car on my last visit, I decided I would drive the scenic loop road and hike a few of the short trails along the road including the Cactus Forest Road. After purchasing a patch and magnet at the bookstore I set out to the road.

The drive was pleasant. The day was warm, but thanks to mostly overcast skies it was not too hot. I hiked a short nature trail and then moved on to the trailhead for the Cactus Forest Trail.
Eric on the Trail photo Ericontrail_zpscb61ee5a.jpg
The trail, like the drive was very pleasant.
Trail and Giant Saguaro photo trailandgiant_zpsbed2d8ba.jpg
There were lots of saguaros along the trail of course, and I found myself wanting to photograph each and every one.
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Even the skeletal remains of the dead ones were interesting.
Saguaro Skeleton photo deadguy_zpsb3fe0504.jpg
There were also lots of great views of the surrounding mountains
Mountains photo mountainview_zps283ae7a4.jpg
Twin Giants photo twingiants_zps83089dd2.jpg
and the views got me reminiscing about my hike up Tanque Verde Ridge to Manning Camp on my last visit.

Eventually I came to the site of some old lime kilns
Lime Kiln photo limekiln2_zps11765d1f.jpg
and shortly thereafter I took a side trail that lead to Lime Falls. I wasn't sure what I would find at the falls, but I was curious. I knew there would be no rushing waterfall, still I had to see what as there. I found the dry falls and decided to see what lay above. Above I found a small pool of water and a small white-tailed deer who I presumed had just stopped by for a drink.
Deer photo deer1_zpsd7f69d1f.jpg
A Deer Friend photo deer2_zps1c1355e5.jpg
I have to admit, I was surprised to see a white-tailed. I would have expected to see mule deer living in such an arid enviroment.

After visiting the falls I retraced my steps and continued on the Cactus Forest Trail. There were even more impressive specimens of saguaros as I hiked along. I came  to the other end of the trail, stopped for a snack and then retraced my steps back to the car. Along the way I passed not only saguaros, but barrel cactus
Big Barrel photo weirdbarrelcactus_zps32667736.jpg
and chollas as well. When I had returned to the car I realized that my time in Arizona was coming to an end. While I had enjoyed myself in the Grand Canyon State, I was excited to see my girls Noelle and Sierra again.

I had one more stop before I hit the road, another short nature trail that led to an old homestead. While there was not much left of the old homestead I did get to see some birds: a thrasher
Thrasher photo curve-billedthrasher_zps83c512df.jpg
and a phainopepla. 
Phainopepla photo phainopepla_zpsc2533bcb.jpg
           

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