Mica Mountain

The Mica Mountain area of the Rincons is similar to the Catalina summit ridge, only without the burdens of easy access and the accompanying effects of heavy fire suppression.  There's a network of trails across the broad summit area and though the highest point is labelled Mica Mountain, the name is generally applied to the whole mountain top.

July 2, 2005
This was a two night backpack with Brant from the Turkey Creek trailhead.  Due to the heat wave at the time, we headed out on the trail at sunset and hiked in to Spud Rock Spring Campground by headlamp.  The next morning we headed up to Manning Camp to make our second camp and also made the short side trip to Helens Dome.

Brant in the tall ferns adjacent to our first camp as we head out towards Manning Camp. 

Looking up one of the flanks of Mica Mountain to a rock called Man Head.

Looking back south across the ridge to Rincon Peak.

The top of Mica Mountain is a U-shaped ridge that forms a shallow bowl at its center.  This is a full 360 pan taken from Duck Rock which sits on the southern arm of the ridge, and looks across the bowl at center.  The trail is down in the trees on the left as it passes over the ridge and drops into the bowl.  Rincon Peak is to the south at left, and down below on the valley floor is the green stripe of Rincon Creek.  Rising up to the right of the creek is Tanque Verde Ridge with Tucson beyond.  Aligned in the photo with Tanque Verde Peak but barely visible in a tree clearing is the grey roof of the Manning Camp cabin.  Continuing to the right is the prominent rocky outcropping of Helen's Dome with Pusch Ridge in the distance, and the large cliff exposure on the center ridge slope is BFR, with Spud Rock poking above.  The actual Mica Mountain summit is to the north located directly above Brant's head.    

View from the flank of Helen's Dome, which forms the left edge of the photo, to the north towards the Catalinas.  It was very hot and hazy that day with Tucson reaching highs of just above 110F.  The right edge of the photo is split since there's a vertical jump.  Brant is sitting just left of the split with a friend we met up with at Manning Camp.  Spud Rock is the high point on the right and the burn is due to the Helen II fire.

View back south across the lower western edge of the summit bowl from near Helen's Dome.  Some storms are struggling to form in the start of the monsoon season.

October 7, 2011  
Decided to hike up from the Turkey Creek Trailhead and see how far I would end up, wasn't sure because of a front moving through that may have brought in snow.  It takes several trail junctions from this trailhead to get to the summit, I think my route takes the Turkey Creek, Deer Head Spring, Switchback, Heartbreak Ridge, Fire Loop, Bonita, then back on the Fire Loop for a short stretch to the summit.  Not all the trails are listed on the maps for the summit trail complex so I'm not sure if this is exactly correct.  The total length is marked as almost 20 miles round trip, but it doesn't seem that long.  I'm skeptical that the Turkey Creek length is actually 6.2 miles as marked on the maps, especially since my GPS track came in closer to 5. 

Looking south near the trailhead over the foothills along the east slope to Rincon Peak.  

Peeling bark of an Arizona Madrone on the way up in the oak-pine belt.  

The trail climbs until pines become dominant on some of the rolling benches below the summit ridge.  Happy Valley Lookout and Rincon Peak are off to the south through the trees at right.   

Similar view of the aspen grove near Spud Rock Spring Campground as on the Turkey Creek page except with latent summer growth instead of snow pack. 

Another bench with open pine forest a little way above the campground as the trail continues to climb up the southern slope of the Mica Mountain summit area.  In the background the East Slope Trail takes off to the right towards Heartbreak Ridge.   

At the junction with the Fire Loop Trail just below Man Head with more open forest of mostly Southwestern White Pine and Arizona (or Ponderosa) Pine.  These two pine species dominate the Mica Mountain summit area with Douglas-fir only rarely present in the coolest spots, like the north slope.  The number of destinations on the trail marker illustrates the somewhat confusing complex of trails in the Mica Mountain area.  

Looking up to Man Head, which along with Duck Rock marks the end of the southern arm of the horseshoe shaped summit ridge, with Mica Mountain on the northern arm.  From parts of southeastern Tucson, like the I-10 corridor, Man Head and Duck Rock can be seen as two pointy nubs on the southern edge of the broad dome of Mica Mountain.     

View south next to Man Head over the ridges on the southern flanks of Mica Mountain to Heartbreak Ridge and Rincon Peak.  From here it's a gentle ascent along the summit ridge to the highpoint. 

Views of Mica Meadow which consists of several flat open grassy areas broken up by rock outcrops and tree stands.  The first photo is at the southern end and the second is at the northern end along the Bonita Trail with the east flank of the mountain falling away in the background.     

Summit marker with the foundation of the old fire lookout in the background.  Somewhat anticlimactic if you're looking for a summit with views or a wild remote feel, but this hike is more about the journey than the destination, sounds cliche but very true in this case.     

Here's the GPS file, turkeycreekmica.gpx.