Monday, October 29, 2018

Family Adventure Guide to Soldier's Canyon

I just hate leaving things unfinished.  Due to lack of planning we were unable to complete the Soldier Trail last weekend, so we returned to Mount Lemmon for another weekend of exploration, adventure, and to finish what we started. Soldier Trail is a strenuous out and back trail that links up with Molino Basin Trail near the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site.

So rather that start at the beginning of Soldier Trail again, we parked at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site trailhead and hiked about a half mile down Molino Basin to where it connects with Soldier Trail.  About 1/10th of a mile into Soldier Trail we could see where we turned around!  Man, we had been oh so close to finishing!

Back up at the intersection of Molino Basin and Soldier Trail, we noticed the creek bed.  We had heard what could possibly be a waterfall and decided we need to explore and investigate!

We could see footprints of other people that had traveled down the creek, but there is not exactly a trail.  

Where the water ran a little deep we did some trailblazing and bushwhacking around it. 

We followed the creek further into Soldier Canyon and the canyon walls quickly closed in.  There is a trail that runs along the right side of the canyon wall that will lead you to the base of a slot canyon.  Thanks to some heavy rain earlier in the week, there were indeed some nice waterfalls.

We had to help a few of the smaller children down a few of the boulders on the steep descent to the base, but it’s nothing too difficult or tricky.  Still, a fall here would be bad so watch your footing and take your time.

Once you are at the bottom you get some rewarding views of the waterfall and canyon.  

By this time we gave up on all efforts to keep the kids dry.  They had so much fun splashing in the water!  (In the photo they are trying to rescue a grasshopper.)  I would definitely recommend bringing water shoes if you have them, but we just took off our socks and shoes.  Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen!  The canyon walls provide some limited shade, but for the most part we were in the sun.  

We found a leopard frog on the slot canyon wall near the waterfall.  It was so well camouflaged that I didn’t see it until it hopped, and then it took me a minute to find it again!  Neat little fellow to watch though.  

Our little adventurous rock climbers had so much fun exploring this area.  Be sure to bring plenty of water!  We spent a lot more time here than we had planned on.  You can even continue following the boulders a little ways further down the canyon, but it was time for us to begin the climb back up and hike out.

I just love seeing a sense of accomplishment on our kids faces.  

They are capable of so much more than we often give them credit for.  Hiking teaches them lessons in perserverance and problem solving, while giving them an appreciation for God’s creation, majesty, and power.  We are all happier after a little nature therapy!  

On the return trip we were all already so wet that we pretty much gave up on trying to find a dry route and soaked up a few more minutes of playtime in the creek.

Look at that face!  Pure joy!  Our kids have not stopped talking about this hike.  It was definitely one of their favorite.

Before leaving we took a few minutes to check out the remains of the prison camp located near the parking lot of the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site parking lot. A lot of history and WWII learning opportunities here.  They older children will be writing about Japanese internment camps and Gordon Hirabayashi in their road schooling journals.

For more adventures be sure to check out our Travel Page and follow us on Instagram @pocketful_of_treasures.

If you have some time in Tuscon, don't miss the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum!

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