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Seven Falls and Beyond –
Bear Canyon Trail #29

March 20, 2021
by Tom Simonick
  GPS Map 
All together now, ready for Seven Falls. [photo by Vicki]
front:  Heather, Carol, Jane, Mimi, Tom, Lin, Li
back: Kevin, Chris, Amy, Michael, Debbie, Kelley, Jon, Randall

Starting from the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center, sixteen hikers headed east toward Bear Canyon and Seven Falls.

Tom gives instructions to the hikers. [photo by Li]

The hike was planned for two groups: a shorter hike to the falls and a longer hike farther up the canyon. I had warned our hikers to be ready for possible deep water crossings on Bear Creek, plus the initial crossing of Sabino Creek. However we used rocks to cross Sabino Creek and our seven crossings of Bear Creek did not require getting our shoes wet.

Watch your step, Jon and Kelley! [photo by Kevin]
Same for you, Debbie and Chris! [photo by Kevin]

Nonetheless, Bear Canyon is a pleasant place to hike as you gradually climb about seven hundred feet over four miles.

The group gets across. [photo by Kevin]

Like Sabino Creek, Bear Creek had a small flow of water, but there were some pretty areas where pools formed, and some of the eroded, striated rocks were exceptional.

Green moss lines the creek. [photo by Li]
Trees are growing in the creek, some in fall colors. [photo by Debbie]

We crossed the nearly-dry creek seven times before reaching spur trail that leads to the falls.

Michael and Lin are having a good time. [photo by Randall]
Michael leads the way at this point. [photo by Kelley]
Here are the falls. [photo by Lin]

There were a number of people already enjoying the falls and pools, but not so many that we could not find places for ourselves.

Vicki gets the perfect shot. [photo by Debbie]
Li and Tom are in the pool. [photo by Kevin]

Some people climbed to the second falls, while others were waded through the large pool below the lower fall.

Heather [photo by Lin]
Lin [photo by Heather]

Having carried my water sandals up the canyon, I put them on so that I could wade into the lower pool.

Tom and Li. [photo by Heather]

The water wasn’t deep, but it was cold and felt great. After everyone had a chance to relax, the groups split and said goodbyes as we left the falls and returned to the main trail. At the trail junction the long group turned up-canyon and began the second part of our hike, while the short group returned to the trailhead.

This is where the groups split up. [photo by Kevin]
“Long” hikers go on from here. [photo by Lin]

We headed up the canyon, beginning a steady climb up switchbacks on the east wall, eventually passing above all of the falls.

Switchbacks? Debbie and Chris take them in stride. [photo by Li]

At that point the trail turned again and continued to follow Bear Canyon. As we continued, the canyon and the trail became closer and we could see more falls and larger pools

We cross, walking on boulders. [photo by Kevin]

We had the canyon and trail to ourselves, except for three people enjoying the uncrowded creek. The trail stayed fairly flat as the canyon bottom rose to meet the trail. We reached the last creek crossing and decided to turn around at that point.

Should we turn around here? [photo by Li]

We were also running low on our drinking water; however, we had a filter and water purification tablets, and plenty of water in the creek. Thanks to Chris for preparing several bottles of water for the return hike.

On the way back we looked for an easy way from the trail to the pools in this part of the creek. We eventually found a way that was mostly free of cholla and ocotillo and marked it for a future hike. After enjoying the solitude of the upper canyon, it was a little shocking to return to the busy Seven Falls junction. It was mid-afternoon, and there was plenty of traffic going both ways on the trail. Returning to the trailhead was uneventful; however, as we passed the water station at the entrance to the canyon, we filled up, to ensure that there was plenty of water for the last two miles. We returned to the Visitor Center just around 4:45 PM.

Thanks to Lin for co-leading this hike. More thanks to Randall and Kelly for sharing their pictures by email.

Statistics: Short hike: 9.8 miles.
Long hike: 14.8 miles, 2000 feet AEG, 8 hours, 42 minutes.

→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by Lin
→   More pictures, by Kevin
→   More pictures, by Debbie

Supplemental Report
by Lin Chao

After we dipped our feet in the COLD COLD water, after the sharp pain go through your feet to your brain, after your feet felt numb…. Then you feel great – refreshed, energizeed, awake … like you drank ten cups of strong coffee.

Jane braves the cold water. [photo by Li]

We said goodbye to Tom, Li, Kevin, Chris, and Debbie, as ten of us marched to the trailhead. It had to be the cold water at the waterfalls, because everyone was full of energy, and they were all ahead of Mimi and me. I radioed a few times to check on Amy, who was tired when we hiked up to the falls, “Amy is doing great,” Heather told me. At one point, we finally caught up with Vicki and Michael at one of the creek crossings.

Mimi and Vicki. [photo by Lin]
The temperature was a bit warm, but the water was cold. [photo by Lin]

Mimi and I both dipped our cold towel in the creek. It felt so good! Michael radioed me and asked if we should hike back to the trailhead on the trail or the road? I asked them to wait for us at the junction. Mimi and I finally met everyone at the junction, and we made an easy decision: hike back on the road.

We got back to the trailhead parking lot about 5-10 minutes apart. Our group had hiked 9.8 miles. It was a good day to hike in this area with our friends.

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updated April 1, 2021