Falls in the Desert?
~Tuesday, February 15, 2022~
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is the perfect place to explore the Sonoran Desert either on foot or by shuttle. With its soaring mountains, deep canyons, and beautiful vegetation, it’s no wonder why this desert oasis draws millions of visitors a year. Being the big hikers that we are, we finally narrowed down the 14 trails to one…….the Seven Falls Trail, one of Sabino Canyon’s most popular. Initially, we thought the trail, including the shuttle to the trailhead was about 8.5 miles so we wanted to get an early start, allowing one hour to get to our ride. But unbeknownst to me, I didn’t realize that Jeff had plugged in the address to the trailhead, not the visitor center/shuttle itself (miscommunication on my part). At this point, knowing we were about 10 minutes off course, we phoned the ticket office asking if we could reschedule our slot for the 10:15 shuttle which wasn’t a problem.
When we finally arrived to the shuttle parking lot/visitor center, they required an $8 parking fee which was waived if you had a National Park Pass. Since our travels began, having the National Park Pass has been a necessity, as it pays for itself in 2-3 visits of visits to national parks, national monuments, Army Corps of Engineers, BLM, and some state parks. Since our pass expired in October (we hadn’t needed it until today), it was time to renew.
After waiting about 30 minutes for our “ride”, we talked with the docent about the canyon, her volunteer experience and the trails. From the sounds of it, we picked a great time to do this hike with the lovely weather and smaller weekday crowds. With the shuttle full of eager hikers, we rode the short 10-minute drive to the trailhead. Once we got on, the route was gradual, winding around streams much of the way. We had about 6 water crossings, somewhat clustered together, requiring a little rock hopping
which is always fun (we’ve seen photos where water can be up to your knees depending on recent rainfalls). As we got closer to our destination, about 2-½ miles in, we could see the Falls and the slew of hikers enjoying their restful spots.
We picked ours near a shallow rock pond, enjoying the sun and the scenery while snacking on cheese/crackers, oranges and granola bars. There’s something quite magical about hiking to a waterfall in the desert, don’t you think? Although we couldn’t see all 7 falls from our vantage point, it was beautiful all the same with a decent amount of water considering where we were. On the way back, knowing we had time, we decided to skip the shuttle and hike the extra 1.9 miles back to the visitor center. Since we didn’t sit waiting 30 minutes for the shuttle, we actually beat it back to the visitor center. So all in all, it was about a 6-1/2-mile day.
By the time we got back to the campground, the winds had really picked up, AGAIN. We’ve got rain and colder temperatures in tomorrow’s forecast (just in time for Jeff’s birthday 😩)so we made sure to batten down the hatches before retiring for the night.