I love hiking the deserts and mountains of New Mexico, but one thing our beloved state does not have is the giant Saguaro cacti that are emblematic of the deserts in Arizona. Like the arms of the Saguaro that reach upwards towards the sun, I felt myself stretching and reaching upwards at Thanksgiving, thankful for an opportunity to hike in the warmer temperatures of the mountains around Tucson.
Both of our hikes were in the Santa Catalina Mountains that sit to the northeast of Tucson, similar to our Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque. The Catalinas are not quite as high as the Sandias but, like the Sandias, there are numerous trails to choose from that provide a wilderness getaway with awe-inspiring views of the city below and the mountains and desert in the distance.
On Thanksgiving day we hiked 8 miles, an in-and-out route on the Bug Spring Trail. We were at the trailhead by 8:00am so we could finish before the hottest part of the day. 80 degrees was predicted for Tucson and it definitely was that warm by the time we got back to the car. Along the way we encountered several other parties of hikers and exchanged holiday greetings, agreeing that there was no better way to spend Thanksgiving.
The day after Thanksgiving we climbed up the Ventana Canyon Trail. This was a shorter, steeper hike providing views of the city from a different angle. We got started later in the morning and it was even hotter by the time we finished the hike. Wonderful day.
The day we left there wasn’t time to hike, but we had time for an enjoyable morning stroll through the Tucson Botanical Gardens. We headed for Phoenix to spend one more day in Arizona.
Back to the colder climate of Albuquerque, having soaked up some of southern Arizona’s warmth, maybe the winter months won’t seem quite as long.