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Matt Marine

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Name: Romero Pools Trail Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on one vote)
Type: Hike Difficulty: (Medium)
Time: 2 - 4 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: Approximately 5 miles (roundtrip) Elevation gain/loss/change: +1055 / -116 ft / +939 ft (one way)
Type: Out-and-back Avg Elevation: 3200 ft
Best time to go: fall, winter, spring, early/late summer Fees: Catalina State Park fee
Fitness rating: Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: Area is only open certain hours - verify before going Last updated: April, 2008
Short Description: A great hike up to some nice pools NW of Tucson
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Snowbird in the desert
References / Contact Information: Catalina State Park
Points of interest: Romero Pools. Nice views. Water falls
Special Considerations: Popular trail, will usually see lots of people. This is part of the Catalina Park trail system. To gain entrance to the park you must purchase a permit. See Permit page for more information. Dogs not allowed in Wilderness Area
How to get there: Take Oracle Road north from Tucson (highway 77) and into Oro Valley. Make a right when you get to Catalina State Park. Drive the main road all the way to the end and park in the large parking area (Waypoint 001). A large sign/map denotes the trailhead. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is one of my favorite hiking trails near Tucson. It’s in Oro Valley (northwest side of Tucson) and accessed through Catalina State Park.

General Information and History

It is a beautiful hike, with lots of fun rocks to scramble over and a nice reward at the end (the pools). My only complaint is that this is a VERY popular trail. Especially in the spring when the flowers are blooming. When I hiked this last year during the peak of the bloom, we must have met at least one hundred other hikers along the trail, which was very distracting. If you are looking for a place to hike and be alone, this probably isn’t the trail for you. Once you get to the pools, you can take a dip in the water when it’s warm and continue the trail further to The Wilderness of Rocks.

The trail is about 5 miles long, with 1000 feet of elevation gain and is steep in parts. The trail follows the side of a canyon part of the way, but it doesn’t offer much shade until you get to the large trees at the pools. I would not recommend this as a summer hike unless you do it VERY early in the morning and have tons of water. I haven’t taken my ten-year-old on this trail yet, she would have trouble with it and be complaining a lot. That said, I do see MANY families hike this trail with small children (even some in backpacks) and they seem to do okay. They must be in better shape and have kids who are more avid hikers than mine :-).

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The Trail

From the trailhead, you will cross a large, sandy wash, then climb a short, but steep hill. This trail also feeds others in the system (Canyon Loop, etc.) and is very wide and a little boring until you start the climb up to Romero pools (about ½ a mile into the hike). At Waypoint 002, the trail splits. Right goes to Romero, left to Canyon Loop. Take a right. Shortly after, the trail splits again (Waypoint 003). Take a left to Romero. These intersections are well marked, so you shouldn’t have a problem. After this left, you immediately start to climb. You will climb and climb and climb along the side of the canyon. Look back every once in a while to gape at the view (unfortunately not as good as it used to be due to the new Walmart in Oro Valley). Keep on the trail until you reach the pools (Waypoint 007). There are no significant trail intersections, so it’s easy to follow. There is also another waterfall you can see when you are about ½ mile out from the pools on your left from a lookout. Listen for it. If it has any water in it, you can hear it. I’ll try to get a waypoint on the lookout next time I go.

When you reach the pools, explore the pools (there are a few), relax, swim, have a snack. It’s a great place to hang out and enjoy the outdoors for a while. There are even a few boulders you can jump into the water from. Then turn around and go back the way you came.

Have fun and be safe!

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