Friday, August 26, 2011
In terms of mountain summit hikes, this trek to a peak on the eastern edge of the Santa Catalina range ranks among the easiest. The ascent is gradual, winding uphill through fragrant stands of pine and oak thickets. At first, views are spare, but as the trail moves into its higher elevations, glimpses of the surrounding desert break through the timbers. On the summit, a hardware jungle of communication towers and a fire lookout are anchored to the rock. Beyond the breezy peak and groaning metal, the grass-fringed summit ridge falls away to reveal the hazy grid of Tucson with muted silhouettes of wilderness peaks – including those of Mount Wrightson Wilderness – saturating an expansive landscape.
ELEVATION: 7,910-8,550 feet
KID FRIENDLY?: yes
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 151 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From I-10 in Tucson, take Grant Road (exit 256) and go 8.7 miles east to Tanque Verde Road. Turn left and continue 3.4 miles to Catalina Highway. Go left and drive uphill 19.5 miles to the Lower Bigelow trailhead on the right. All roads are paved.
FEE: $5 daily fee per vehicle for Catalina Highway
FACILITIES: restrooms, water
INFO: Santa Catalina Ranger District, Coronado National Forest, 520-749-8700,