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Name: Yetman Trail to Bowen's Ranch Ruins Author's Rating:
Author: Elisabeth Morales Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Hike Difficulty: (Novice)
Time: 1-2 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length:2.4 miles round trip to Bowen Ruins, but could go farther to make it the full 13.4 mile hike round-trip Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +159 ft / -26 ft / +133 ft (one way)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 2700 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Medium
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: Dawn to dusk Last updated: November, 2016
Short Description: Short hike to the Bowen Ranch Ruins with great views of the many Saguaro cacti that line the surrounding mountains
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area: Soldier Gate; One the Sunny Side; Are We There Yetman?
References / Contact Information: Hike Arizona; Tucson.com
Points of interest: Bowens Ranch Ruins, No 4wd, Beautiful scenery
Special Considerations: No dogs allowed on trail
How to get there: From the University of Arizona, Google Maps will tell you to head west on Speedway for 6.8 miles, take a slight left on N. Altavista Rd., continue on W. Gates Pass Rd for 0.9 miles and then make a left and the trail will be there. However, that will not take you to Yetman Trail. The best way to get to the actual Yetman Trail would be to head west on Speedway for 6.8 miles still, then turn left onto Camino de Oeste, where you will drive until you hit the trailhead

Trail Description

This trail is one of many in Tucson Mountain Park in Tucson, Arizona and is fairly easy, complete with great views of many Saguaro cacti as part of the Saguaro National Park West. The complete trail is 13.4 miles round trip and runs along a dry riverbed making it feel as if one’s shoes are walking on a sandy beach at times, but I only hiked the 1.2 miles in to reach the Bowen Ranch Ruins.

The trailhead is a bit tricky to find at first but once there it is worth it. From the University of Arizona, Google Maps will tell you to head west on Speedway for 6.8 miles, take a slight left on N. Altavista Rd., continue on W. Gates Pass Rd for 0.9 miles and then make a left and the trail will be there. However, that will not take you to Yetman Trail. The best way to get to the actual Yetman Trail would be to head west on Speedway for 6.8 miles still, then turn left onto Camino de Oeste, where you will drive until you hit the trailhead.  There are not many signs or indications of the trail ahead but continue driving straight, even when the road turns to dirt, until you see a pullout for parking spots to the right. Continue walking and you will shortly run into Yetman Trail.

General Information and History

The trail is named after David Yetman, a former member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, environmentalist and author. Yetman is also known for his time as a host of KUAT’s public television show named “The Desert Speaks”. However, the trail’s name was not the most historical piece of the hike-the Bowen Ranch Ruins were. Since it is only 1.2 miles into the trail, it is an easy way to see an interesting piece of Tucson’s history first hand.

Sitting quietly on Yetman Trail, the Bowen Ranch Ruins are what is left of a home that belonged to Sherry Bowen in the 1930s, who was editor of The Daily Stair at the time and his wife, Ruby Bowen. The Bowens previously lived in Illinois prior to moving to Phoenix, Arizona in 1923 in hopes of improving Ruby’s heart condition with the change in climate. In 1928 they headed south to Tucson and by 1931 relocated to the Tucson Mountains. The Bowens constructed their stone house,  and a road through the mountains to their home as well. Their property was eventually expanded to 2,000 acres. A year and a half after their child, Gloria, was born in 1943, the family left Tucson for New York City to work for the Associated Press. Gloria went on to become a world renown prima ballerina. Unfortunately, health issues prevented the family from returning to their Tucson Mountains, but their stone home still stands today. It is now considered a historic structure.

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The Trail

The Yetman Trail to the Bowen Ranch Ruins is an easy hike that is easy to follow. There was never confusion as which path to take-occasionally the trail goes off to the left or right and you can either follow it or stay in the dry river bed but it will always lead you back to the same intersection.

Once you park your car, after walking a few feet there are signs that say “trail” and “Yetman Trail / Stone House” and point with arrows to the trailhead. Signs like this continue throughout the trail, making it straightforward to stay on the path. The hike is easy and when it does get slightly difficult (which is not very difficult at all) there are rocks formed as steps to make it simple. 

Around 9 a.m. when I was hiking along the trail, there were about 10-15 deer walking through the mountains. That is not uncommon to see, along with other wildlife such as wild horses, javelina and on rare occasions, mountain lions.

After 1.2 miles of hiking, the remains of the Bowen stone house are visible. It is truly an eerie but wondrous feeling walking upon it and entering the old homestead. You can see where there are fireplaces and where a stove used to be and the screen-less windows give a perfect view of the surrounding mountains and cacti.  There are no doors or roof, making it completely open, adding to the eerie wonder.  The home is a great place to stop and take it all in before turning around and trekking the 1.2 miles back to the car, but if you wanted you could continue the hike for the full 6.7 miles.

In addition to the fantastic scenery and ruins, this hike is one of the most serene I have ever been on. The peace and quite away from the city was expected, but the extreme solitude surrounding the trail was pleasantly surprising.

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