I must confess that I don’t hike Mt Lemmon very much, which is criminal when you get right down to it since I only live a couple miles away, but as the summer heat hits Tucson the cool forest heights are pretty darn appealing. So last Sunday, I threw Saja and the kids in the car and headed up Catalina Highway.
This is a wonderful hike and easy going until you turn around to go home. It’s pretty much downhill from the trailhead so you get to pay the price on the way back. The trailhead is a couple of miles above the Palisades Visitor Center and has plenty of parking and a bathroom. As with all Mt Lemmon trails, expect to encounter other hikers.
This trail beautifully displays the amazing resilience of nature. The area was devastated by fire in 2003, but is thriving today. The ferns, grasses, and shrubs have done their part by covering the slopes with lush growth, securing the soil and providing cover for the sapling oaks and pines. The victims of the fire still stand in many places, but beneath them young trees are reaching skyward, ready to take their place in the story of the mountain.
We passed through the fern thickets and new growth for about an hour and were rewarded with the cool waters of Novia Springs. This small stream cuts across the trail about three miles from the trailhead and cascades over the rocks into cool pools teeming with tadpoles, water spiders, and beetles. What a beautiful, peaceful oasis! If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn I was back in Pennsylvania rather than the middle of the desert. This alone was well worth the trip.
Unfortunately, we had got off to a late start and, with the sun sinking towards the horizon, we had to turn back. This is a great little hike and I’ll definitely be back. You could make a nice overnight trip out of it if you continue on to the Davis Springs and Knagge trails.
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About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!