I have heard about an area north of me known as the Cowboy Slickrock and recently up popped a group hike going through the area, led by Allen Swanson. Allen is a good hike organizer and leads a fast paced hike so I joined. We meet in Catalina at the end of Golder Ranch Road.
Not much climbing, just a rolling route through the wilderness with myriad trail options. It's a popular destination for mountain bikers and at times, they've taken the liberty of making new trails which leads to some down time as we figure out which trail to take. Above, a cow observes our approach.
At the base of a sandstone hill, a beach has been formed just before entering.....
…..a northwest facing slope that contains a microclimate that supports vegetation much different from the balance of the area. It was noticeably colder in here too.
We take a break at mile 5 and enjoy the sun, warmth and views to the southwest. Another cool day, perfect for hiking, with a high in the upper 50's. Trust me when I confirm, emerging from a summer in southern AZ makes temperatures in the 50-60 degree range seem cold. Really cold.
We are on a loop that enjoys frequent visits to broad slickrock. The trail can be difficult to follow since no trace of travel is found on the rock.
One expanse even had a nice pocket of water, there on the right. In the distance is Pusch Ridge. Think I'm going to climb Bighorn in a few days, the middle peak.
Some where in the distance, to the northeast, is the a water tank for wild life on the Cherry Gap Trail. Not visited that and the ridge beyond is Samaniego Ridge. There is a very rough road, Charouleau Gap Road that would provide access to some neat locations but a high clearance vehicle is required.
A couple of mountain bikers wait while our group passes through. We encountered several mountain bikers but there's never a problem with the encounters. I marveled at how some can navigate the entire route without resorting to "hike a bike". There are some very intimidating sections.
Towards the end of our 11 mile hike, we passed a group of horseback riders. Good group of hikers one our route which had about 1000' of climbing. I would have identified the trails we walked but they were too numerous and if you venture into this area, make sure you have a gps route to follow. Lot of trails too are not on the map.