Cargodera Canyon via Sutherland Trail

Catalina State Park

March 16, 2020

We enjoyed Saturday's hike so much that we returned to the same area, this time staying right on the Sutherland Trail to Cargodera Canyon.

desert wildflowers

There we found a lovely tumble of water, and downstream, a pool much larger (and cooler!) than the one we dipped in a few days ago.

desert wildflowers

I love hiking late in the day. The winter light is amazing, and there are generally fewer people on the trail. We so noone on the upper trail, and after the junction we once again slipped away on a web of unmarked and lightly-used alternative trails. The wildflowers were simply amazing — best I've seen in years!

Cargodera Canyon via Sutherland Wash

Catalina State Park

March 14, 2020

We continue to discover the hidden wonders of Catalina State Park. The park is much larger than we realized, and with the help of a good digital mapping program, we have discovered that there are many many more trails besides the famous and hopelessly overpopulated route to Romero Pools.

We've had some wonderful Spring rains this year, so we thought this might be a good day to follow the trail up Sutherland Wash. We arrived after lunch on Saturday and found the parking lots completely full, with cars strung out for miles along the access road. Yikes! Not what we were looking for as we work to maintain the appropriate "social distance" while COVID-19 remains a threat.

We hurried up the trail and were greatly relieved when the crowds peeled off at Canyon Loop and Sutherland trails and we found ourselves alone but for a couple of horseback riders on the Sutherland trail.

desert wildflowers

The wildflowers put on quite a display — carpets of Mexican poppies, Arizona lupine, tackstem, blue phacelia and owl clover. What causes them to flourish in some areas and not others? Is it elevation? Soil? Slope? We couldn't identify any common denominators.

Sutherland Trail

We continued north on a soft dirt path through a mesquite bosque, expecting to find a lot of water where the map showed several side streams pouring into Sutherland Wash, but past Cargodera Canyon, the wash is entirely dry. So Sutherland Wash itself is dry. It gets its water from a couple of side canyons, including Cargodera Canyon and Romero Canyon.

Cargodera Canyon

So we backtracked to a couple of delicious pools near the pool of Cargodera Canyon. Having flowed over open desert, the water was temperate, and there wasn't another soul in sight.

Our Lady of Ephemeral Streams

My friend Laurel calls this photo "Our Lady of Ephemeral Streams".

social distance for hikers

We wandered back along the wash, via a web of unnamed trails, entirely alone until we rejoined the main trail a half mile from the visitor center. Here I am demonstrating "Social Distancing for Hikers.

scary hiker guy

And if that doesn't work ...