Friday, December 15, 2006
It was late in the afternoon, and I started climbing up around Katt Mountain on the south side of Starr Pass when a mountain lion slinked in front of me. I was only a few hundred feet from the developments on Kinney road, and at first I thought it was just a deer that walked funny. But it wasn't. It kept its hips low and level as cruised across the trail and down into a nearby wash. I was climbing and trying to get better and better views, but I could just see flashes of him in the vegetation.
That's the second time I've seen a mountain lion this year. The first time was on a remote part of the Umpqua River Trail in southern Oregon, when I came around a corner and nearly ran into him. He was golden brown with a dark tail and was scrutinizing something in the middle trail. He saw me and leapt onto a pile of boulders and vanished in the wet forest.
What amazes me is that I've spent 12 years mountain biking and hiking and these are the first two cats I've ever seen! There have been a few false alarms and maybes along the way but here are my first two cat sitings and they were just a few months apart. One was in a remote part of Oregon, and this one today was right in our backyard.
I suppose I should mention the trail. I'd been curious about John Krein for some time, perched as it is on gorgeous bluffs. I'd climbed up to a prominotory once before, but I heard there was a way to drop down the other side and back to the Starr Pass area. The answer is, yes, there's a way, but it's mostly a matter of carrying your bike down a steep, rock-strewn slope. Unless you're looking for adventure, I'd recommend just catching the first half of John Krein for a technical climb and turning around for the descent.
How to get there: Take Speedway toward Tucson Mountain Park. Turn left on Silverbell. Right on Ajo Way. Head up Ajo way until you get to Starr Pass Resort. Turn left and go up the hill to the stop sign. Turn left. Take the first right on a dirt road along the golf course. Go to the end of the road and park.
Length: 10 miles, 2 hours, 1800 foot climb.
Trail Conditions: There's some great new singletrack at the trailhead so you don't have to ride up and down that rocky road anymore.
The Map: Lots of trails out here, but it's hard to get lost. The best way to explore is to get The Map at your local bike shop. SDMB also offers a map. Below is the map for the John Krein loop.
The Ride: Through Starr Pass, up and over John Krein, and back to your car.
View towards Starr Pass from John Krein
Like a big ugly amoeba, the Kinney road sprawl has taken over on the south side of the mountains.