Tumomoc Hill stands west of its famous Tucson sister: "A" Mountain. There's no car or bike access to the top, you must walk or run. The hill has been a research station since 1903 and is currently managed by the University of Arizona.
Today, I walk up the hill under threatening skies, so the trail is not mobbed like some mornings. It's 6:50 am, and I must speed walk up and down to make the 7:30 am cut-off time. Don't want to disturb the research stationeers.
The morning air is cool for Tucson--about 78 degrees, but I still work up a sweat. It is steep. 700 feet elevation gain in 1.5 miles. Click on the map below to view path and elevation.
I hear shuffling steps from behind me, so I walk faster to stay ahead of the jogger. She eventually passes me.
A runner pounds down Tumamoc Hill.
I pass research buildings, some built in the Civilian Conservation Corps style, using local volcanic stone, wood frames, and metal rooftops. More recent storage buildings were built on the cheap: stucco and sheet metal.
Switchbacks steepen and I pass volcanic rocks with dried moss designs reminiscent of the real petroglyphs found on this hill.
Petroglyph picture from Tumamoc: People and Habits.
Ruins of a Hohokam village from 2,300 years ago is on the hill, but not accessible from the walking path. Here is a link to the Trinchera, the ruins of a wall that surrounded the village on the hill. The wall is known as "Arizona's oldest public works project."
I reach the top filled with communications towers and enjoy the view in all directions. The breeze cools my sweaty brow.
Well after the time of the Hohokam, the Tohono O'odham Indians lived along the Santa Cruz and saw the first Spaniard expedition come through en route to San Francisco in 1776. I'm not walking or biking the De Anza Trail today, but I have a view of 100 miles of the Conquistador's route. From the top of the hill, I can see De Anza route: from Tubac to Tucson in the Santa Cruz River Valley, then north and west, continuing along the Santa Cruz River and what is now Interstate 10.
I follow the female jogger, who paused for a hilltop rest, down the hill. She inspires me to jog a bit, which seems easy, until my thighs protest. So I resume speedwalking.
I see a partial rainbow pushing through the dark clouds in the western sky. It's raining in other parts of the valley, but not on me. I reach the bottom of the hill by 7:40 am, a 50-minute roundtrip.
Walk and learn about the hill's cultural past and biological present through evening "Tumomoc Talks."