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Romero Canyon Professional Review and Guide
"This trek begins on the flats of Catalina State Park, ascends through the rugged foothills of the Santa Catalinas, then penetrates deep into the mountains. Most hikers travel only as far as Romero Pools, leaving the upper section of the trail fairly secluded. There is a good camping area near Romero Spring. Outcrops of stone dominate the landscape as the trail approaches the Montrose–Romero divide. This is one of the most spectacular spots on the trail, with craggy summits on all sides and a veritable rock garden of desert plants growing among the outcroppings. Lush clumps of sotol can be found Pusch Ridge Wilderness in abundance here, and a substantial waterfall thunders through the depths of Romero Canyon during the wet season."
--Erik Molvar, Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country (Falcon Guides).
I hiked this 5.6 mile round trip to the Romero Pools in about 3.5 hours, including stopping frequently to take pictures and a long rest period at the pools. The pools are just large enough to take a dip, and the water is cool enough to make that worthwhile. The first part of the trail is fairly flat, wide, and sandy; then it narrows into a singletrack that winds over rocky terrain. I saw about twenty people total from beginning to end, including some children (so it is doable for families). Both shade and vegetation are increasingly abundant as one nears the pools. There were great views of the Catalina Mountains and of the valley to the south with mountain ranges in the distance. However, the views are nothing surprisingly spectacular as similar views can be seen from a greater distance from the road and in other parts of Tucson. Bring your hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, and a camera.
Trail was pleasant to Romero Springs from Catalina State Park. The pools while very nice were overly crowded, but a good resting point after the first climb. Romero Springs was beautiful, I intend to return for camping below the large shaded trees and next to the water. Our groups destination was to Hutch's Pool to camp before exiting Sabino Canyon. From Romero Springs to the Start of the West Fork of Sabino was EXTREMELY challenging while carrying a 40+ pound pack for camping. The trail while well marked had many trees in the way (probably from the fire/flood combo couple years back) and lots of loose footing for the very difficult climb towards the end. The scenery and change in Scenery is great, however. I would recommend the hike without a heavy pack and coming from the east instead of the way my group took (from Catalina State Park to Sabino).
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