Romero Canyon

Romero Canyon is a popular trail both with locals who go to Romero Pools as a destination and for travelers who are visiting Catalina State Park.  Anything that gets labelled as a location with pools or falls tends to get a lot of traffic and this place is definitely no exception.  I'm not sure if the title Romero Pools refers to the pools that the trail initially encounters or the whole creek bed above and below that is dotted with pools for several miles.  

December 2, 2011
I hadn't hiked in Romero Canyon for several years and prior to this hike I had only gone a little past the first pools.  For some reason I figured this would be a good hike for a cold rainy day, which it was except for the thick growth that crowds the trail in spots collected rain and made travel a bit messier.   

View to the east on the first part of the trail which follows an old dirt road.  Samaniego Peak is barely visible through the clouds at left.  Romero Canyon flows down to the valley between the closest ridge and the granite domes behind it.

The trail leaves the road and quickly ascends along a steep and rocky path that first follows and stays above Montrose Canyon, seen here, and then crosses over a ridge into Romero Canyon.  Montrose Canyon continues back towards Window and Cathedral Peaks, passing by the high point on the left, while Romero Canyon sits the other side of that point. 

Mexican Blue Oaks in the clouds as the trail crosses over the ridge into Romero Canyon.  The desert ferns and spikemoss covering the rocks at left are commonly found on north facing or shady rock exposures at elevations from the high Sonoran desert up through the oak grasslands.

Just past the creek crossing at the pools, the canyon opens up before narrowing again at the gorge which is in the background at left.  The northeast ridge of Cathedral Peak is visible through the clouds while the peak itself is obscured to the right. 

Looking into the mouth of the gorge as the trail climbs and bypasses above.  

Another view down into the granite lined gorge with Cathedral Rock rising above left.  It appeared that following the creek through the gorge would require some serious climbing, or rappelling.  

Looking up the western fork of Romero Canyon with the northeast and northwest ridges of Cathedral Peak on the left and right.  The damage from the Aspen Fire becomes more evident from the gorge onward.  The slopes at right and the stands of dead trees along the creek are obvious evidence of intense burns.   

A little past the gorge the trail drops back into the creek where there's a well used campsite.  There were also some grinding basins gouged into the rock in the creek bed which suggests this site has been used for a long time.  I took shelter under the large oaks here for a little while as the rain picked up.  There are some surviving as well as burned Arizona Cypress standing among the Arizona White and Silverleaf Oaks along this portion of the creek.  

Looking back on the middle portion of the canyon with thick forest along the course of the creek.  The campsite area is near the end of the ridge coming in from the right.  The ridge in the distance is the top of the large rock dome that rises above and just upstream of the pools.

A little farther up near the point at which the trail splits from the creek as the creek makes a bend left towards Mt Lemmon.  The trail continues to Romero Pass by following a ravine to the right that was full of Silverleaf Oak forest but is now scorched, and the trail suffers from erosion and brushy regrowth.  The snowy flat ridge in the background is part of the crest ridge west of Mt Lemmon that wraps around the western edge of the Wilderness of Rocks before dropping to Romero Pass and the West Fork Sabino.  The dead oaks and cypress are victims of the fire while the Arizona White Oak adjacent to the cypress is only partially damaged, exhibiting its greater resistance to fire.

This is another view up to Cathedral Rock in the center and the western pinnacles on the right, now visible after the clouds had lifted a little, though the top of Cathedral Peak is still stuck in the clouds.  This was on the way back down from the saddle which didn't have very good views at the time since it was shrouded in clouds and had windy mix of snow and rain.  

Looking down into the open section of Romero Canyon from the top of the gorge.  The pools are just out of view to the right, though they aren't as prominent from this viewpoint as the many other pools along the creek like those directly below.  The rock dome at top is the one that is prominent as the trail approaches the Romero Canyon and looks more like a fin of rock from that perspective.  The yellow fall colors are likely Velvet Ash also called Arizona Ash, while the orange leafed trees are sycamores.