The sunny day we’d had for our climb yesterday of Picacho Peak was but a distant memory when we awoke this morning under a gray gloom. Unlike on previous days, there was no suggestion that this gloom would lift anytime soon. So we adjusted our hiking plans to the Romero Pools in Romero Canyon on the north side of the Santa Catalina Mountains. These pools are shallow catchments on seasonal canyon streams. Since it had been somewhat of a wet winter, we figured that these pools were likely flowing (they were). We also figured that these pools were probably worth seeing even if shrouded in gloom (they were).

The trail to the pools starts in Catalina State Park. We reached the trailhead to find the huge parking lot there almost three-quarters full. What! Had we chosen poorly? Were we going to be slogging along among swarms of other hikers? Well, no. There are a lot of trails that emanate from this trailhead, with the one up Romero Canyon being one of the harder ones. Hard enough so that, while we weren’t alone on the trail, we weren’t hemmed in by other hikers either.

A cactus wren serenades the gloom

We hopped across flowing (a good portent for full pools above) Sutherland Wash and walked the relatively flat and easy old road to the state park boundary. Then we crossed into the national forest and did the steep and rocky 1.7 mile, 900-foot climb to the pools.

The rocky climb to the pools

The trail goes up a lot, then down some, then up again, then down a lot, and then along some before finally reaching the first set of pools. A lot of hikers seem to get this far and no farther.

Arriving at the first set of pools
Romero Pools
Abstract in water
Romero Pools

While I was hopping around snapping photos, a guy, who seriously resembled an animated piece of beef jerky (proving it’s possible to spend just a little TOO much time in the sun), came down the trail and said there were even better pools just a little farther up. Ones with a waterfall!! Fortunately The LovedOne was not yet fully settled, so I was able to coax her along to these other pools and the waterfall.

Leaving the first pools we encountered
The LovedOne takes her break at the upper pools
The upper pools with waterfall
Upper pools with waterfall
The waterfall
A cascade of pools

I had run out of different ways to photograph the same pool just as The LovedOne’s nap came to its natural end. Nothing to do now but head back. The sun toyed with us by offering a few sunbreaks just as we got going but the gloom was back in force well before we reached the trailhead.

Going down during a brief sunbreak
Bee in a poppy

Later the gloom would become a storm that set a new daily rainfall record (0.97″) for Phoenix. The old record of 0.45″ was set in 1913. Fortunately our flight out of Sky Harbor Airport was not affected by this deluge and we arrived home to clear and sunny skies. 😎 And so another sojourn in the desert Southwest came to a happy conclusion! 🙂

To the Romero Pools and back