Golder Ranch Hikes in the Catalina Mountains
Back in the winter of 2015 Betsy and I went to an event called "Meet the Monument" at Ironwood National Monument which is about 40 miles north west of Tucson. The event is organized by the Friends of Ironwood Forest. There were various informational tables set up and guided hikes in the Monument.
As I recall Betsy and I were just getting back to the car and getting ready to leave when a couple who were passing by looked at our car and said: "West Virginia - where are you from?"
That was John and Janet and it turned out they were from the Ohio Valley near Wheeling WV where I had grown up.
We chatted for a bit and exchanged contact info and then we saw John and Janet on some of the hikes Betsy and I lead for a local MeetUP group.
Now, seven years later we are still at it - the four of us hiking together with an occasional Happy Hour and/or Dinner thrown in.
Once in a while John or Janet would suggest a hike we might enjoy. Some of those hikes were in the Golder Ranch area on the west end of the Catalina Mountains. We just took our lastest hike in the area yesterday, with John and Janet as our guides. That was hike #3 in the Golder Ranch area.
Golder Ranch is a unique area and consists mainly of granite boulders of various sizes which are the result of spheroidal weathering. The maze like network of trails wanders in and out and up and over the boulders some of which are large enough to lunch upon.
None of the trails in this area are marked and some are not "official" trails and might not be found on commercially available maps. But, that did not matter to Betsy and me as we had our own personal guides.
After three hikes on unmarked trails which seemed to go here, there and everywhere I realized I had no good idea of what trails we had hiked on our 3 visits to the area. Fortunately John knew exactly what trails and when I queried him about this I received this reply:
In Golder Ranch our first (14 January 2019) hike was a combination of the middle gate trail and the 50 year trail.
The longer hike (07 December 2020) started on Middle gate Trail and continued onto the cherry tank trail. From there we came down the Cowboy slick rock trail to the upper 50 year trail. We closed out on the Middle gate and 50 year trails.
Monday (24 January 2022) was a combination of the baby Jesus trail, the upper baby Jesus trail and closed on the Middle gate of a trail.
Source: Guide John
Ok, now we know what trails we hiked but what about all those big boulders and such? Here is a geology teaser for the Golder Ranch area.
The dozens of domed-shaped granite hills here are domed inselbergs (also called exfoliation domes and bornhardts)(Figure 13.1, arrow). Weathering and erosion,guided by two major sets of natural cracks in the bedrock, called joints, have sculpted these graceful and distinctive landforms from the Catalina granite.
The link above to the Guide to the Geology of Catalina State Park will take you to an 8 meg PDF which is chock full of info and is easy to digest. Even if you have only a passing interest in geology it is worth a look.
So, with out further delay here are photos (only) from our 3 Golder Ranch hikes with John and Janet.
14 January 2019
This hike was a combination of the middle gate trail and the 50 year trail.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
07 December 2020
This hike started on Middle gate Trail and continued onto the Cherry Tank trail. From there we came down the Cowboy Slick Rock trail to the Upper 50 Year trail. We closed out on the Middle Gate and 50 Year trails.
24 January 2022
This hike was a combination of the Baby Jesus trail,
the Upper Baby Jesus trail and closed on the Middle Gate trail.
The Baby Jesus Trail resides in the western slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains. It’s namesake is derived from a rock formation that looks like a mother cradling her child.
My sturdy, purty wife.
See you next time!