Bug Springs Trail

The trailhead for the Bug Springs Trail is just up the highway from the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site.  This trail doesn't actually go to Bug Springs but instead somewhat follows the route of an old trail from the prison camp to Bear Canyon.  There's a trail that goes to Bug Springs itself which appeared to be accessible from a split-off near the trailhead of this trail, or by going across the highway from the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site.  The original route to Bear Canyon likely passed by the springs on its way up. 

January 4, 2010

Most of the slopes surrounding the first half of the hike were badly burned by the Aspen Fire and looked like a moonscape for a while.  They have since started to recover though.  Many of the oaks have already grown back quite a bit after being burned down to the roots.  Most of the oaks in this photo and along this segment of trail are Emory Oaks.

Looking back down to the highway and to the southwest at Gibbon Mountain in the middle of the photo.  To its left is Baboquivari Peak on the horizon, and to its right is Thimble Peak as well as Wasson Peak in the Tucson Mountains beyond.

The trail eventually winds its way up to the top of a ridge which it traverses before dropping into and continuing along the bottom of an unnamed valley.  The first photo is the view from this ridge south over Tucson to the Santa Ritas.  The second is looking down into the valley at a patch of forest that's downstream of the intersection with the trail.  Bear Canyon lies just on the other side of the ridge running across the photo, and the highway can be seen climbing up along Bear Canyon's opposite wall.

Looking back at the ridge that the trail traversed, which also forms a boundary between the Aspen Fire burn on the left and unburned forest on the right.  The second photo is looking up into the valley farther upstream with a larger patch of forest.  The trail drops into the creek along the slopes at right below the rock face.

After dropping into the valley the trail flattens out and passes through a very pleasant forest of mostly Chihuahua Pine and oak with some Arizona Pine.  The first photo is of a large Arizona Pine on the left and a Chihuahua Pine on the right which can usually be distinguished at a distance by its finer textured foliage.  The second photo is a large Chihuahua Pine trunk showing the typically dark and thick blocky bark.  The third is a trio of Silverleaf Oak trunks which are common along this creek.

The trail climbs up out of the valley to the ridge separating it from Bear Canyon, and then it drops down into Bear Canyon where it ends at the other trailhead along the highway.  The first photo is a small Chihuahua Pine near the top of the trail.  The small round cones that cover its branches are another identifiable characteristic of this pine species.  The second photo is looking north towards Green Mountain and the upper part of Bear Canyon where the highway starts climbing out.

This is looking down Bear Canyon with the Arizona Cypress grove just out of view around the canyon bend to the left.  Windy Point is on the left where the highway meets the top of the ridge.  There's a tiny black speck of a car on the highway near center.

This is a small plunge pool just downstream of the first trail crossing, one of many throughout the Catalinas.  The second is a manzanita with stringers of live bark coursing over deadwood.  The bark is particularly smooth, lacking the usual thin curly flakes that seem to fall off in the winter and redevelop in the spring.

View back over the burned ridges of the Catalinas to the Rincons and Agua Caliente Hill inbetween.  The trail can be seen continuing down along the top of the lowest ridge.

This is the GPS file for this hike that can be opened in Google Earth. You may have to explicitly specify the gpx extension when saving, bugspring.gpx.  The Google satellite image was taken before the fire.  The other trail to Bug Spring itself goes up the creek just to the right of the lower trail segment.