PCMN Wild Burro AT Trail Hike

Blogpost written by PCMN Kim Gerard, Cohort 6.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

On a mild and sunny morning, a small group of Pima County Chapter Master Naturalists met for an Advanced Training hike.  We explored the Wild Burro Trail in the Tortolita Mountains, which began near the Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain in Marana.  Paul Stillman (C3) was our terrific guide, with Franklin Lane (C1) serving as an excellent tailgater.  The rest of the group included Deb Petrich (C1), Jean Boris (C2), Joan Calcagno (C2) and me, Kim Girard (C6).  After an informative intro from Paul and some shared hiking tips, we headed out.  The Wild Burro Trail began flat and sandy, and included several crossings of a dry wash.  We soon encountered the first of several petroglyphs on a large bolder lining the wash.   These petroglyphs are Hohokam, and dated to approximately 1100-1450.  We were privileged to view these historical records of early inhabitants of the area.  

Throughout the hike, Paul shared his considerable knowledge of the area – human history as well as plant/animal life, and his own adventures. We all shared hiking stories, wildlife encounters and identification of the many wildflowers we encountered along the way. We stopped for lunch and snacks in the large wash, where there was ample shade and flat boulders on which to rest.

One view of a number of petroglyph sites.

We were treated to wonderful views throughout the hike, surrounded by Saguaros and many other cactus species. The wash was lined with blooming Chuparosa in every direction, and we all remarked at how many there were and the amazing color they added to the landscape.

A boulder-strewn hillside with pops of color, mostly brittlebush.

There was a steep and rocky section of the trail, but Paul kept a moderate pace and we made frequent stops to enjoy the surroundings catch our breath.

When we reached the Alamo Springs area, we saw the remains of an old rancher cabin and a hand-dug well. There was an excellent interpretive sign that showed photos and information about some of the early, non-indigenous inhabitants of the area.

Remains of an early rancher cabin
Exterior of the hand-dug well.
Interior of the well – sure glad I didn’t drop my phone!

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