Palisades Trail to Sabino Canyon

March 16-17, 2012

A freakish late winter storm derailed our plans to spend three days backpacking in the Galiuro Mountains. Instead, we persuaded our friend Dave to give us a ride up the mountain, and we spent two delightful days descending 4150 feet from Palisades Ranger Station to Sabino Canyon.

There were patches of snow along the trail for trail for the first mile, and the air was delightfully cool and fresh. This area was heavily burned in the Aspen Fire of 2002, and damage was more obvious and we dropped off Organization Ridge.

"Mud Spring" was aptly named, and cement trough was etched with the date June 9, 1937. Below Mud Spring, the trail tracks high on the west side of a spectacular narrow-walled canyon with killer views of Thimble Peak.

About four miles into the hike, we left the canyon and traversed an undulating ridge where there are some terrific camping spots. We should have stayed there! Instead, we hiked the last raven mile to the junction with East Fork, which drops nearly 2000 feet via an endless series of switchbacks.

It was almost dark when we reached the canyon bottom, but we had to trundle along for another mile to find water at the confluence with the West Fork. There we find a great spot overlooking the stream near the junction with Box Camp trail, and we fell asleep to a chorus of Western Screech Owls (you can hear them on the video). We had not seen another person all day.

We lingered by the stream as late as possible the next morning, enjoying our coffee in the sun by the stream, and then wandered downhill amid some of the best wildflowers we've seen so far this year. Another fabulous weekend adventure in the mountains in our own backyard!