Bridal Wreath Falls (Saguaro National Park) 19-Jan-2023

We have been going to Arizona, for one reason or another, for years. Lately it’s been to visit longtime friends and do a few desert hikes in the winter coolness. We didn’t see an issue with continuing to do so just because we moved to Minnesota. What we didn’t anticipate was becoming part of a warmth-seeking 😎 stereotype.

Some Minnesotans come to Arizona for a few days (as we did) to enjoy a little mid-winter warmth. Some come on “business” trips that somehow involve a golf course (or two or more). Others are full-on seasonal migrants – summer up north, winter down south – with either an RV or a second home in the desert.

The few locals (actual full time Arizona residents) we encountered seemed to find all us weather dodgers slightly amusing – but certainly appreciated our business. I guess we’re part of that warmth stereotype now. But we are going to draw the line at wandering around in Viking hats or jackets. πŸ™„

We reached Tucson the day after a major rainstorm – an offshoot of the “atmospheric river” that flooded California – had passed through. This meant that a hike we’ve talked about doing for several years – Bridal Wreath Falls in Saguaro National Park (East) – might actually involve a cascading waterfall.

This is a very popular hike – especially when there are rumors of a waterfall – so we opted to get an early start and go out the Douglas Spring Trail to the falls but come back via the Three Tank and Garwood Trails. We were so early, we even got to park in the trailhead parking lot. 😊

Bridal Wreath Falls, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
At the Douglas Spring Trailhead
The recent storm had left snow on the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north
On the trail
Sunlight and wispy clouds
Skeleton of a Beavertail Cactus
Cactus and clouds
Bridal Wreath Falls, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
Running water in a tributary of Tanque Verde Wash
Pincushion Cactus with seedpods
Bridal Wreath Falls, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
Crossing the intermittent creek coming down from the waterfalls

After a very pleasant walk on the Douglas Spring Trail, we had the lower waterfall 😁 to ourselves for about 15 minutes before more hikers started arriving. As they did, we followed a faint use trail up to where we could get a look at the upper waterfall (which is really more of a cascade). As more and more hikers arrived, we headed back.

Bridal Wreath Falls, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
The lower waterfall at Bridal Wreath is about 20 feet (6.1 m) high
Bridal Wreath Falls, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
The lower waterfall
Bridal Wreath Falls, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
The upper waterfall/cascade at Bridal Wreath
View of the Santa Catalina Mountains and Mount Lemmon from the upper cascade/waterfall

On our way back, we passed 30+ hikers more before we turned on to the Three Tank Trail. After that, we saw fewer than 6 hikers.

On the Three Tanks Trail
An Aster among the cactus
Looking west over Tucson from the high point on the Three Tanks Trail
Barrel Cactus fruit
Continuing on the Three Tank Trail

The Three Tank Trail is so named because it passes two “tanks” (water retention ponds – Aguila and Mica) and one metal tank (plus a small concrete watering tub).

The metal tank at Rock Spring
Inside the metal tank (more like a metal swimming pool)
Tank detail
On toward the Garwood Trail, with Mt. Lemmon (arrow) in the distance
A Saguaro button
A Barrel Cactus post-flowering
On the Garwood Trail

This loop came to 7.1 miles (11.5 km), with 1,125 feet (343 m) of gain. When we got back to the trailhead, we found the small parking lot was full and cars parked a considerable distance along both sides of the road. Our early-ish start had paid off.

The weather was great, the trail was good, the waterfalls were a rare, amazing sight, and we dodged a lot of other hikers by coming back via Three Tanks. A great way to start our warmth-seeking visit to Arizona! 😁


4 thoughts on “Bridal Wreath Falls (Saguaro National Park) 19-Jan-2023

  1. Love seeing my old stomping grounds – it’s been more than 30 years!


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