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Gordon Hirabayashi Rec Area

 
Gordon Hirabayashi Rec Area

Page Type: Route

Location: Arizona, United States, North America

Object Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Rec Area

Route Type: Hiking

Season: Spring, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Half a day

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes
 

 

Page By: Sarah Simon

Created/Edited: Mar 17, 2013 / Mar 17, 2013

Object ID: 842600

Hits: 915 

Page Score: 78.11%  - 9 Votes 

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Overview

Typical conditions
Conditions pictured here are typical of what you will encounter along this route.| 22 Nov 2012
This great walk through the desert takes in history (passing through a WWII internment camp), nature (it begins as a leisurely stroll through a desert wash) and a bit of wild desert adventure (off-trail bushwhacking through scrub). The route takes in two desert summits and affords fantastic views of the surrounding Santa Catalina Mountains and the greater Tucson area.
Route Map
Roundtrip Distance: 5.25 milesNET Elevation Gain: 1,400 feetYDS Class: 2March 2013


Be ready for your desert bushwhacking! While the navigation is in no way advanced,the ridgelines to both peaks are curving and line-of-sight can be limited (especially on the wriggling ridge line to Gibbon Mountain).  The desert scrub, while relatively sparse, still does not readily suffer fools and demands respect: Ocatillo, prickly pear and Spanish dagger await!

Despite being convenient to Tucson and so close to the General Hitchcock Highway, there are parts of this route that leave you feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Roundtrip Distance: 5.25 miles
NET Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet
YDS Class: 2

Getting There

Beginning of the trail
Beginning of the trail
Walking along the wash
Walking along the wash
Shreve Saddle
Shreve Saddle
At Shreve Saddle
At Shreve Saddle

From the General Hitchcock Highway, also known as the Catalina Highway or the Mount Lemmon Highway. The Trailhead by the Molino Basin campground (past milepost 7), a great jumping off spot to reach the summit of Gibbon Mountain, can be reached within an hour of downtown Tucson. Take Tanque Verde (often pronounced “TANKy VURdy” by the locals) diagonally across the northeast edge of town to East Catalina Highway. Follow East Catalina Highway North for about 4.5 miles to the Forest Service boundary. Here the road becomes the General Hitchcock Highway…or the Catalina Highway…or the Mount Lemmon Highway. Take the turnoff for the Molino Basin campground, then head west until the trailhead where the road ends. The trailhead at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site (former WWII prison camp) also serves a segment of the Arizona Trail.

Route Profile
 


Note that the highway is paved, but longer vehicles (22 feet or greater) or those towing a trailer may have difficulty negotiating tight curves.

Route Description

 
Leaving Shreve Saddle for Gibbon
Leaving Shreve Saddle for Gibbon
 
Route to UN 5506
Route to UN 5506


From the trailhead near the horse hitch posts, the trail is not super-evident (several footpaths run up the berm from the parking area), but simply head west through the sand and you’ll soon pick up the trail.

· The trail climbs right out of the parking area, then drops for a stretch into a sandy wash. Walking in 4 inches of sand is never easy – enjoy yourself here.

· Continue past the junction with the Soldier Trail (keeping right/straight at the junction) as the trail eventually pulls out of the wash.

· Continue up the wide trail to Shreve Saddle, marked by a sign for the Arizona Trail.  From here, you can access both mountains.

To Gibbon
To Gibbon

On a level area
On a level area

Gibbon Mountain in sight
Gibbon Mountain in sight

Summit ridge
Summit ridge


To reach Gibbon Mountain:

·  Turn left (head south) up a steep slope.  The footing is steep, slippy and covered in prickly plants.  A footpath wraps around the mountain clockwise, but it involves side-stepping  Take your pick – directly over the top of the initial hump, or side-stepping around the side.

· Continue to follow the ridgeline, which curves first southwest, then northwest, then west to the summit of Gibbon Mountain.

· Note that the highpoint is not marked by a cairn and there are three reasonable highpoint candidates, so visit them all.

· Descend back to Shreve Saddle.

To UN 5506
To UN 5506

Slopes of UN 5506
Slopes of UN 5506

Along UN 5506 ridge
UN 5506 ridge

Almost to summit
Almost to summit


To reach UN 5506:

· From Shreve Saddle, head north directly up the ridge of UN 5506.

· Compared to the zigg-zagg path to the summit of Gibbon Mountain, the route to the top of UN 5506 is a relatively smooth, curving  bushwhack to the top of the peak.

·  Work your way around a few boulders to the highest boulders of the peak.  There are two summit candidates, one marked with a small cairn (at the time of my visit).


Descend back to Shreve Saddle and outhike along the trail to the parking area! 

Essential Gear

UN 5506 ridge
UN 5506 ridge
Desert scrub
Desert scrub

• Standard hiking equipment suitable to the season
• Sunscreen and sun protective clothing 
• Plenty of water (the washes here do not run except after very, very heavy rains).
• Long sleeves, long pants and sturdy hiking shoes will protect your body from blood-thirsty plant life during the off-trail segment.
• Map:
Green Trails Santa Catalina Mountains, AZ – NO 2886S

External Links

If you have any trip reports of other external links to add, please notify me via the Additions and Corrections section!

Images