Ventana Canyon

Why the summit is named Window Peak while the canyon is named Ventana is a mystery for the ages.  I guess Window Canyon didn't sound as good in English, though I'm guessing there's a housing development somewhere with that name.  This trail starts out disappointingly, awkwardly passing through a long fenced corridor on the resort grounds.  But beyond this point the canyon feels like the others in Pusch Ridge, quickly escaping the city into wilderness.  The Window is a somewhat popular destination that requires a lot of time and effort, but the peak itself is less visited and well worth the extra effort.  From areas of town near the UA you can see straight through the opening of The Window.

Circa 1996-1997
I first learned of the window when I saw it across the canyon as I ascended the ridgeline towards Kimball Saddle on my off-trail adventure/mistake.  I decided to hike to it after finding out what it was either from a map or a trail report. 

This is the view eastward through the window towards Cathedral Peak and up towards the cliff sided summit of Window Peak at right.  This shows Cathedral Peak before the Aspen Fire burned off most of the pine forest on its slopes.


Its a long steep drop down Ventana Canyon and across to Mt Kimball to the west.  Kimball Saddle and Kimball Gaurd are to its left, and Tucson lies below barely visible in the hot haze of summer.


Circa 1999

I convinced JJ and Matt to go along on this hike somehow, I think I undersold the extent and used the "too far in to turn around" logic.  The sharp point on the horizon is Baboquivari Peak.


A look at the roof of The Window as we take a lunch break before heading back down. 


May 6, 2007
Kathryn and I went up with the goal of getting at least up to The Window.  We ended up pushing it to the summit, which I finally achieved for the first time.  The summit is actually off trail a little and requires some scrambling up a chute at the end, but is pretty easy.


Canyon Penstemons were in full bloom all over the place at mid elevations along the canyon bottom and sides.


The view northeast from the summit with Biosphere2 intensely reflecting the sun.  Samaniego Ridge drops down from Mt Lemmon behind Cathedral Peak.


View from northeast to southeast across Esperero Canyon to Cathedral Peak and the Catalina crest ridge beyond.  Pusch Ridge continues on dropping to the right of Cathedral Peak and ends at Rattlesnake Peak just to the right of center.  Farther beyond and a little more to the right, Gibbon Mountain and Thimble Peak are difficult to distinguish, and they would be continuations of Pusch Ridge if Sabino and Bear Canyons hadn't sliced them off.  Beyond are the Rincons with Mica Mountain and Rincon Peak most prominent.  Barely visible on the horizon to their left are the Chiricahua and Dos Cabezas mountains.  On the right horizon are the Mule, Whetstone, and Huachuca mountains.  The east side of Tucson lies below by about 5000'.


Looking down on the pines and giant pinnacles that surround the summit and then across the canyon to Mt Kimball. 


Looking sowthwest over Tucson with Kitt Peak on the far right.


Kathryn hadn't been up here before so it was necesary to check out the window on the way back down.


This flat narrow ridge is one of my favorite spots in the Catalinas with the high grass, mountain views, and steep canyons falling away on both sides.  This plateau ridge is also prominently visible from some parts of town on the east side.  Mt Lemmon pops out into view on the left and Window Peak is the highest outcrop on the right.


The view as we head off the ridge and back down into the canyon.  The thickly covered slopes are mostly oaks, Alligator Juniper and Mexican Pinyon and the high point is Kimball Gaurd.


November 4, 2011
Decided to check out the views from the southern and slightly lower summit of Window Peak on this very breezy day as a front moved through.


Looking up at Window Peak from the rocky mouth of the canyon.


View along the trail from a point just past Maiden Pools looking up to Window Peak and farther up canyon to the plateau ridge that projects off the west flank of the peak.  


Creek crossing with oaks becoming abundant and pines, other than pinyon, starting to appear along the creek bottom in the background.  


Looking up the canyon slopes immediately below The Window, visible at left, and the summit which is just left and behind the prominent cliffs in the middle.    


Pines in the canyon bottom below the slopes of Mt Kimball in the background.  Some of these were obviously Chihuahua Pine but the others seemed to exhibit traits of both Arizona and Apache Pine, perhaps remnant hybrids without any nearby source of pure Apache Pine.  I have yet to see anything that looks distinctly like the Apache Pine of the Santa Rita, Huachuca, or Chiricahua Mountains in either the Santa Catalina or Rincon Mountains.     


On the way up to the plateau ridge looking back across Ventana Canyon to Kimball Guard, Kimball Saddle, and Mt Kimball.   


One of the branches of Montrose Canyon flowing down from the northwest face of Cathedral Peak.  Mt Lemmon is in the left background, and the west spires of Cathedral Peak are prominent to the right of the peak, while Cathedral Rock is the large exposure just down slope and left of the peak.   


Approaching the summit and looking down on the rock fin at right that contains The Window, with the plateau ridge beyond and Mt Kimball on the far left.  Below right of Mt Kimball is the flattish top of the viewpoint near Pima Saddle, and the second rounded tooth to the right of that is the top of large granite cliffs known as Wilderness Dome.     


View of the north summit from the south summit.  The cliffs on the far left are the ones that were seen in the earlier photo looking up to The Window from the canyon bottom.  The trail runs across the middle of the photo below the summit cliffs and passes between the two highpoints on its way to Esperero Canyon.  This peak, like Cathedral Peak, was burned substantially by some of the farthest extents of the Aspen Fire. 


Southwest face of Cathedral Peak with the large landslide scar that was likely made during the 2006 floods which were magnified by the Aspen Fire's damage.  The western spires are on the left and the outcrop on the right is the point that appears to be the summit from the trail in Esperero Canyon.  The off-trail route up Cathedral Peak attains the summit ridge just to the left of that outcrop.  Arizona Cypress are scattered over these slopes from the top down to the western spires and then along the course of the landslide to the canyon bottom.   


Panorama over Esperero Canyon, very similar to the previous one from the northern summit except with more of the canyon depths visible as well as the ridge dropping to the south of Window Peak.  Burned trees immediately below and other burned patches along both walls of the canyon are fairly obvious and from the Aspen Fire, though the ridges around Rattlesnake Peak near center were first burned a couple years earlier by the Rattlesnake Fire.