After hiking around the east side of Tucson for the previous three weekly hikes, Tom and I decided to push down a little farther south to the town Patagonia, Arizona. Heading out early in the morning of December 19th 2017, we raced the Tahoe down Interstate 10 zooming past Tucson and veering a right onto Highway 83. This area of Arizona was new to myself, never really venturing very far south of the I10. Patagonia is a small town just about 40 miles north of the Mexican border and to my surprise was a quite charming mixture of an old west cattle and a 1960’s throwback hippy town. Parking just outside of the local post office and in front of the Ovens of Patagonia, a quaint little eatery, we noticed the morning was slightly foggy and a bit on the chilly-cold side. The AZT runs straight through this part of the town, heading out both NOBO and SOBO, making it a great trail intersect for our day hikes. Today’s hike started with a short highway walk down to 1st avenue and then quickly up into the foothills of the Santa Rita mountains. The countryside here is very unique with rolling hills of a mixture of yellow dried grassy plains, Mesquite trees and the massive snowcapped Santa Rita mountain range towering in the backdrop. The trail at this section is a very tame two-lane dirt road walk to about mile 7, which ended as you approach the Harshaw Road Trailhead. Hiking past and after this well-defined AZT trailhead, the road turns slightly rough and our nice 3.2 mph pace slowed. A couple days prior a light rainstorm had moved through most of the state. An unexpected bonus making the shallow creeks trickle with ice cold crystal-clear water. The day, although sunny without a single cloud in the sky, remained cool with a daytime high of in the mid 50’s. The cool temps causing me a mental reflection upon those now distance sweltering summer hikes. “Boy, this is the most perfect hiking weather”, Tom commented. Feeling good we decided to push a little past our planned 20-mile goal and made the turn at mile 11. The whole hike took us a little more than 7 hours and was, in general, a very nice day of rolling hills with only a few climbs. I greatly enjoyed the hike and the Santa Rita mountains, but most of all, I was truly impressed with the little town of Patagonia and the surrounding countyside. Hiking around Tucson, I have realized that if eyeing any rolling hill or mountaintop, you will be certain to find a large million-dollar house constructed smack on top of it. In Patagonia, the landscape is untouched and pure to its imagine. I can only hope the developers don’t get a hold of the town…. Unfortunately, given time, they most likely will.
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