Sycamore Reservoir Trail Series LbNA # 28754
|Placed Date||Feb 11 2007|
|Last Update||Feb 8 2014|
Trail difficulty: moderate; it is a rocky and sandy mountain trail with some steep hills and rocky ups and downs.
Hike distance: 2+ miles one way; the first two boxes are less than ½ mile from the start.
Status: all alive and well on December 27, 2013
The boxes are along a scenic and interesting desert mountain hiking trail in the Coronado National Forest northeast of Tucson. They are at an elevation of about 5000 feet; so, there may possibly be some snow on them during the winter. Driving towards Tucson from the east on I-10, take exit 275 and go north on Houghton Rd. Turn right on Catalina Highway. Going towards Tucson from the north on I-10, take exit 256 and drive east on Grant Rd. Turn left on Tanque Verde Rd. Turn left on Catalina Highway. After passing mile post 7, turn left on Prison Camp Road into the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. Drive to the end of the road where trailhead parking is available. There is a fee to park here if you do not have a national forest or federal recreation lands pass. This link will take you to a description of the Sycamore Reservoir Trail: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/trails/sycamore_res.shtml. Below is a scan of a trail map for this trail.
Prison Camp Letterbox: From the end of the road, walk the short distance up the trail to the large trail information sign. Turn right; this is the Molino Basin Trail #11 (Sycamore Reservoir Trail). Walk a short distance to where the trail makes a left turn at a brown trail marker or stake. Walk up the wildcat trail that goes at about 298 degrees (from mag. north) to an old fire ring at the top of the hill. From the ring, go at about 310 degrees for about 30 steps down hill to a dead Juniper Tree with a boulder on its west side. From the northwest side of that tree, go at about 308 degrees down hill for about 23 steps to a low pile of small boulders. The box is on the east side in a hidey hole and hidden behind several rocks and covered with some plant debris. Look back towards the road you drive in on for a nice view of the remnants of the old Federal Prison Camp constructed beginning in 1937. These links give information with photos of the old camp: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/recreation/camping/sites/gordonh_history.shtml and http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/anthropology74/ce18a.htm.
Soldier Canyon Letterbox: Return to the trail, turn right, and continue walking southwest on the trail. At the trail junction with a trail sign, continue straight on the Molino Basin Trail #11 (Sycamore Reservoir Trail). After the second wash crossing, continue on the trail for a short distance to a large 4-trunk Oak Tree a little off the left side of the trail. Continue on the trail for about 30 steps and stop between the 3rd and 4th Oak Tree along the left side of the trail. Walk at about 180 degrees for about 68 steps through a flat clearing and then up the slope to a large nearly vertical pointed boulder. The box is under the south side of the boulder under some rocks and covered with some plant debris.
Gibbon Mountain Letterbox: Return to the trail, turn left, and continue on the trail/wash, eventually heading up to a saddle. At the saddle, head down hill on the Sycamore Reservoir Trail #39. The old gated road to the right was used to construct the Sycamore Reservoir Dam. As you head down hill you will be passing cemented fieldstone pedestals which were used to support the water pipe from the reservoir to the prison camp. Continuing down the trail, look for a small roofless square hollow fieldstone structure a short distance down off the right side of the trail on the edge of a small gully. Continue a short distance more to a large boulder on the left side of the trail. From the southeast side of the boulder, go at about 140 degrees up slope for about 32 steps to a boulder between two black slender dead tree trunks. The box is under the west side of the boulder behind some rocks covered with some plant debris. Gibbon Mountain is the high peak above you to the southwest.
Sycamore Basin Letterbox: Return to the trail and turn left, crossing a larger boulder filled gully, and continuing downhill. Eventually, the trail joins the old road coming in from the right as it descends into Sycamore Basin. Walk to the end of the trail at the Sycamore Reservoir Dam and enjoy the spectacular view of the Bear Canyon gorge. There is water flowing here most of the year and it is a good place for a picnic. The reservoir, which is now filled in with flood debris, was originally constructed to provide water for the prison camp. Turn around and go back up the trail you came on. You will pass a rusty metal trail sign (“Parking Area 1 Mile” (now inaccurate!)), and then a flat concrete slab on the left side of trail. Then, in a short distance, just after passing over a gully (with a cemented fieldstone culvert on the right side of trail), look to your right and you will see a very large sprawling Oak Tree in the gully. Make your way over to that tree. From the south side of the tree, go at about 162 degrees up the steep slope for about 26 steps to a low linear outcrop of rock angling up hill. The box is at the left (east) end under a pile of rocks covered with plant debris.
This is a natural and wild area; so, please be alert for snakes and the slight possibility of larger predatory animals.
Please be sure the contents are double ziplocked when you put them back in the boxes (i.e. the stamp is in a ziploc, the book is in a ziploc, and the two are in the larger ziploc bag). Please rehide all the boxes well under the rocks and covered with some plant debris so that they can not be seen from any direction.
Please let me know if a box needs attention or is missing:
Please record your find at www.letterboxing.org/ or at www.atlasquest.com/ .
If you live in Arizona or New Mexico or have an interest in letterboxes in those states, you are invited to join the Letterboxing Southwest Discussion Group. Go here to join: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LetterboxingSouthwest/ .