The SaddleBrooke Hiking Club has formed a group of members who are interested in hiking the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT). The AZT is 840 miles that extends from the Mexican border near Sierra Vista to the Utah border just west of the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. The trail traverses all of the unique geography of our beautiful state from the “sky islands” and Sonoran Desert in the south to the beautiful mountains, plateaus and canyons in the north.
On January 3 the SaddleBrooke Hiking Club held its first hike of the year along the Arizona Trail passage through Oracle State Park. On January 24 and 25, five members of the club completed two more passages of the Arizona Trail that extend across eastern Santa Cruz County. This area, called the Canelo Hills, has long been a cattle ranching region with beautiful grassland and hills, scattered oak, juniper, manzanita and pine trees.
The first hike, Canelo Hills East, began near Parker Canyon Lake. The hikers were greeted with an early morning temperature of 28 degrees F with scattered snow and frost on the ground. The hikers soon warmed up as the sun broke through the clouds and they crossed the hills and ravines headed to Canelo Pass. There were beautiful views of the snow-covered Huachuca Mountains to the southeast and occasional views of the Santa Rita Mountains to the northwest. Spending the night in Patagonia, Arizona the weary hikers were joined by two more club members, Michael and Jeanne Reale, and they all enjoyed dinner at a restaurant called Velvet Elvis, which lives up to its name with a portrait of the The King painted on black velvet in the dining room. The next morning was even colder when seven hikers walked through the beautiful passage called Canelo Hills West (AZT Passage 3), traveling from Canelo Pass to a trail head just east of Patagonia. Together the hikes totaled about 28 miles.
The SaddleBrooke Hiking Club is planning more local day hikes of the AZT and will also be scheduling two or three day trips with hiking eight to 15 miles each day and staying at local lodging close to the trails.