February 13, 2010

A Bike Ride in Saguaro NP to the Signal Hill Petroglyphs

With temperatures back up in the low 70's and sunshine in the sky, we decided to pull out the bikes and go for a ride. It is about a 10 mile ride from the campground to the Signall Hill Petroglyphs, located on the northside of the Saguaro NP - West Unit.

The ride starts out along the McCain Loop in Tucson Mountain Park. And no...I don't know if it was named after the senior Senator from Arizona. That part of the trip is a pleasant 3 mile ride without any traffic. Then, we headed down Kinney Road into the national park, past the visitors center and down the hill to the Bajada Loop.

The Bajada Loop is a 5 mile dirt road that heads past a series of trailheads. At the far end of the road is the Signal Hill Picnic Area. The petroglyphs are located at the top of the hill just above the picnic area.

These are Hohokam petroglyphs estimated to be about 1000 years old.

From the top of Signal Hill there is a nice view of snow-capped Mount Lemmon and the national park, without having to look down into Tucson. It was just such a great time to sit out, do a picnic, and take Hilina on some bio-searches.

We were looking for baby saguaros. We did not find any of those, but we did come across some baby ocotillos, termites under rotting prickly-pear pads, and even a scorpion cast skin. In addition, the sprouting seedlings following the recent rains are starting to look like real plants now.

The ocotillos are really starting to leaf out and some even have flowers forming.

The ride back was more difficult than the ride to, since there were more uphills. We are definitely not in bicycle shape, so our butts and shoulders were sore. It ended up being a little more exhausting than we originally envisioned. Linda had Hilina and I had the backpack full of water and supplies.

Hilina loves riding in the bike seat. But, after a long day on the road on trail, sometimes she just can't stay awake! Anyways, what a lovely day in the desert.

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