We always have best intentions of starting early, but it’s always a chore to do so when taking the kiddos and pups hiking. Plus we have to load up all the extra gear, food and water needed for our pack of six. It was almost 10am, and we were a few miles from the trail head when it hit me that I had forgotten the water bottles. I had set six liters out the night before to get cold, and well, let’s just say they’re still chillin’ on the front porch. We decided to go ahead with the hike on account for the cool temps, the short distance, our conditioning, and we had two quarts of “dog” water and personal bottles we had brought for the ride. We parked at the Gordon Hirabayashi Rec Site, avoiding the $5 fee by parking outside the gates.

The first leg had us walk along the highway before crossing it. The trail was all uphill from there, and Maddie did the first mile.

Harley likes to jog ahead and wait for us to catch up. Sometimes Maverick does the same, but he’s just as likely to ride the heels of the first human in line.

Cathedral Rock in the distance

When we got to the top of the hill we celebrated Maddie’s first climb with a short snack break at the false peak. The highway and our parking spot were almost out of sight.

With kids now on both backs, we continued the steady climb up the ridge line.

I really like the red bark of manzanita trees. Around Tucson we find them on northern slopes where the sun is less intense.

We crossed a wash that had light flow. Perfect for watering the dogs!

We paused for the quick drink and moved on. Maddie sang a song in my ear.

We had nice views of Tucson and the Santa Rita Mountains for most of the way up. We also saw a lot of hikers and mountain bikers on the trail.

Mount Wrightson and the Santa Ritas in the distance

At a quarter til noon we reached the high point of our hike at roughly 6300′. Maddie was asking for cheeseburgers, and Heather made a guess that we’d end our hike and have lunch at 2:30. She pushed on so I could catch up after snapping a few shots from the hoodoo-covered peak .

We started our descent down the north side of the hill, and the scenery was upgraded to include trees such as pines, junipers and oaks. A short while later we could hear water flowing so we ventured off trail about 20 yards to find it.


Can you spot Harley?

Following a wash, we crossed over flowing pools over a dozen times. That gave the dogs plenty of water for the rest of the hike. We also found a patch of snow.

The scar created by the highway up to the top of Mount Lemmon

After climbing down about 50 scattered wooden steps, we arrived at the end of the Bug Spring Trail and the start of the Green Mountain Trail. Our finish line was a half mile ahead at the General Hitchcock campground.

We had hiked 5.5 miles, and we had plenty of water left when we arrived at the campground. The campground was closed, but earlier we drove up and locked my bike to a signpost inside the gates. Leaving the family behind, I then rode the bike down the highway to pick up the Subaru.

I drove back up the mountain to pick up the family, and minutes later we were in the Chihuahua Pines picnic area. It wasn’t long before the burgers were cooking on the grill! We were all hungry, and Heather was correct. We ate at 2:30.

Bug Spring Trail is part of an alternate AZT passage, one of the bypasses offered to equestrian and bike riders. In our quest to complete the AZT, we plan to hike all bypasses in addition to the main routes.

Miles Hiked: 5.5
AZT Miles: 0
AZT Bypass Miles: 5.5

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