Area residents will have the opportunity to explore the Tortolita Mountains in the coming months through guided hikes offered by the Town of Marana. The mountains, which overlook the town, are rich in southwest wildlife, crested saguaros, fluttering hummingbirds and, soon, hikers of all ages, sizes and experience levels.
The free, guided hikes are on the first Saturday of every month, September through April, starting with a hike on the Lower Javelina Trail this Saturday, Sept. 2.
Bob Stinson, outdoor recreation coordinator for the Town of Marana, will typically guide the hikes. In general, he said he likes to start off the program with easier hikes, and gradually increase length and elevation gain through the season. He also takes potential storms and increasing heat toward the end of the program into account.
“So that [way], people who do sign up each time get a greater taste of the mountains,” he said.
September’s hike will be three miles long with an elevation gain of about 300 feet. Stinson said to expect 10 to 20 people to join in.
“We see all kinds of cool stuff,” he said. “The Tortolitas have a really high concentration of crested saguaros, there’s beautiful wildflowers during wildflower season we’ve seen pretty high concentrations of hummingbirds.”
The mountainsides come alive with color and movement when chuparosas, the long red flowers that are known for attracting hummingbirds, are in bloom. Stinson said that scenes for a documentary about hummingbirds were even filmed in the Tortolita Mountains last year.
Stinson said he sees hikers of all ages take part in the program, though kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Due to the many moving parts and pumping hearts that already make up a group hike, hikers cannot bring their dogs. There’s always the chance of running into a kit fox or a javelina on the trail, though.
“It’s one of my favorite programs,” Stinson said. “I dig it.”
Hikers (and future hikers) interested in exploring their hometown mountains are encouraged to register online for the guided hikes in advance (maranaaz.gov/town-calendar/2017-guided-hike-of-the-tortolitasmay-lyfsb). The Sept. 2 hike will begin at the Wild Burro Trailhead, 14810 N. Secret Springs Drive in Marana at 7 a.m.