Douglas Spring Trail

This trailhead gets some of the heaviest use in the Tucson area especially with the ranch resorts nearby, and it shows for the first few miles.  Beyond that mileage the crowd thins considerably and the landscape also starts feeling more wild and removed from the city. 

Circa 1996-1997
 
A lot of people go as far as Bridalwreath Falls and turn back.  Its definitely a worthy destination if the water is flowing well, I'd suggest scrambling up above the lower fall to see the cascades immediately above and in the photo on right.


View from around halfway between the falls and the campground where it really starts feeling like wilderness.  This is before the Helen II fire burned the north slopes of Mica Mountain around Helen's Dome on the left in '03.  Cowhead Saddle sits in the low point in the middle and Tanque Verde Peak is at right.  This whole area from the saddle down is recovering from the Chiva Fire of '89.


February 2, 2007
I had gone as far as Douglas Springs Campground before but I hadn't been to Cowhead Saddle yet, plus it snowed in the mountains the night before so I figured this would be a good way to hike up to a bit of snow.


View north to Mt Lemmon barely visible through the clouds to the left of Agua Caliente Hill in shadow.


View across the grassy oak and juniper covered foothills to a snowy Mica Mountain.  The clumps in the foreground are Beargrass, also called Sacahuista, or by its official name Nolina microcarpa.


An impressive cairn made of thin rock wedges right along the trail as it heads south from the campground up to the saddle.


View back towards the north from farther up the ridge.  Some areas along this part of the trail used to be thickly forested and were burned by the Chiva Fire, and it's interesting to see the various levels of regrowth.


The views from the saddle itself aren't that great so I hiked a little way up the trail that heads west towards Tanque Verde Peak.  The snow had melted quite a ways higher up from when I started, but I still was able to hike through the snow in some spots.  The San Pedro River flows north behind the Rincons in its valley on the left, with the Galiuros forming the other side of the valley.  Rincon Peak is poking up into the clouds and Cowhead Saddle is just left of center at the bottom of the ridge.


A closer shot of the snow covered pines around Helen's Dome, much of the foreground was also burned by the Chiva Fire.