The Painted Cave
It was a rest day but the thought of doing nothing outdoor active all day was not appealing. So, I did some due diligence on the route to the Painted Cave and hoped it would be a fun and relatively easy hike (it was). I arrived at the parking area at the end of Camino de Oeste Road. The Tucson Mountains have a bewildering mix of trails in places but they also have great signage. I get going on the Yetman Trail.
I arrive at the intersection of the Bowen Trail which takes one to Starr Pass Resort but stay on Yetman. The trail is flat to slightly rolling.
At roughly mile 1.2, I see a faint trail heading to the right and maybe to the above rock formation. My research of the night before stated the trail to the Cave was at mile 1.7 so I ignored that unsigned trail option.
I pass the ruins of the Bowman House. Built back in the 1930's the Bowman's homesteaded an area that at one point claimed 2000 acres. The Bowman's left the area in 1944 and eventually the claim became part of the Tucson Mountain Park.
If you are curious about hiking to the Painted Cave, at about mile 1.6 from the parking lot, look for the above saguaros which locals describe as the "Whispering Saguaros". One is whispering to the other. There is also a fairly.....
...obvious trail leading to the right which enters....
….this canyon. The cave in on the right even though the easy to follow, unsigned trail, stays on the left slope. After about 0.2 of a mile, watch for a faint trail breaking right. It descends to a wash and then begins.....
….a short but kind of steep climb. There is more than one trail to follow as others have pioneered their own routes up the slope. You'll find a hiking pole helpful for the return as the trail is kind of sketchy. All trails lead to.....
….the cave. Kind of exciting to reach and note there is a trail that circles to the right of this that leads to other, smaller caves, higher on the slope. I checked them out but did not see any other markings inside. I could have gone higher and will on another visit just to see if there are more caves.
How cool is that? Beautifully preserved paintings of deer and sheep, dating back to the Hohokam's, roughly 300-1500AD. There is space to enter and sit but I elected to stay outside the cave, leaning in to take this image.
After some exploring, I headed back to the parking area, finishing with 4 miles and a needed, easy day of hiking. It's always good to get outside.
2/26/2022 06:13:09 am
Thanks so much For this I have been hiking in Tucson Mountain Park for over 20 years and did not know of this cave your directions were spot on and we found it easily
5/3/2023 11:59:49 am
Thanks for good directions in miles and not feet like others have posted.
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