Monday, August 10, 2009
“THE POOLS” Catalina State Park, Tucson Hemmed in by the stony slopes of Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains, Romero Canyon Trail #8 switchbacks uphill through classic high-desert terrain, revealing amazing views at every turn. At roughly the three-mile point, the ocotillo, creosote and Palo verde-studded hillsides give way to an oasis of waterfalls and swimming holes scoured out of Precambrian rock imbedded with streaks of glimmering quartz. Here, the perennial waters of the Romero Pools foster a green zone of riparian plant life. A tangle of moisture-loving plants including cattails, cottonwood and velvet ash flourish in the canyon’s drainage providing a cool and shady respite from the surrounding desert heat. It’s smart to hike this one early in the day to avoid brutal afternoon heat. HIGHLIGHTS: Unlikely pockets of cool water and riparian vegetation in the middle of the high desert. LENGTH: 6 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate ELEVATION RANGE: 2,700 – 3,600 feet NOTE: dogs are not allowed DRIVING DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 130 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, travel south on I-10 to exit 240 (Tangerine Road). Continue 13.5 miles to stoplight at Oracle Road (Highway 77), go right (south) and follow the signs to the park entrance near milepost 81. Once inside the park, follow the main road 1.5 miles to the Romero Canyon trailhead. FEES: $7 day use fee per vehicle.
INFORMATION: Catalina State Park, 520-628-5798, http://azstateparks.com/