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Coronado National Forest closes trails in anticipation for storms and flash flooding

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 8:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Coronado National Forest is closing numerous trails due to potential storms and flash flooding, causing some potentially dangerous conditions around the Bighorn Fire burn scar.

Heidi Schewel, a Coronado National Forest spokesperson, said they closed the trails back in 2006, when floods devastated the Sabino Canyon Area, and they’re closing them again this weekend due to the magnitude of the storm.

“They are very unstable conditions to begin with and now when we get these storms moving through that we’re expecting, there could be rock slides, there could be wash out, the trails could be lost,” Schewel said. “It’s just not safe to be in these places at this time.”

Schewel said it’s especially not safe for tourists who are unfamiliar with the area and the severity of the monsoon season. She said the record breaking monsoon has cast a green glow across the Catalinas, but enjoying the sight comes with a price if people aren’t careful.

“Just know you need to avoid low lying areas, you need to avoid streams and washes. It doesn’t need to be raining where you are for a flash flood to occur. If it’s raining upstream a flash flood could occur suddenly and without warning,” Schewel said.

The sites drew in Betsy Bolster from California on Friday, Aug. 13. She said she wanted to enjoy the Monsoon from the comfort of her AirBNB.

“We thought why not come enjoy some good thunderstorms here, it’s hot either place,” Bolster said.

John Perchorowicz, Southern Arizona Rescue Association said the problem occurs when people get caught hiking in those storms.

“The issue here is the storms are unpredictable and they occur around the clock,” Perchorowicz said.

Joanna Smith, Tucson local, said she’s been caught in the rain while on trails as well. She got her hike in before the rain started Friday.

“I don’t remember the trails being closed, we should have had the trails closed last week, because there was lots of rain last week and it floods,” Smith said.

After several rescues in Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde Canyon, The Southern Arizona Rescue Association hopes people will heed the closures and warnings.

The trails closed Friday morning and will be closed for the unforeseeable future. Openings will be determined based on damage. The following roads, trails and campsites are closed:

Coronado National Forest Closes Areas

The Coronado National Forest on Friday announced the temporary closure of some areas ahead of the storms. There have been several instances of hikers getting trapped by floodwater over the last few weeks.

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

  • Sabino Canyon Road, closed at Bridge 1 upstream of Rattlesnake Canyon
  • Bear Canyon Road at the Sabino Creek crossing

Pusch Ridge Wilderness

  • Pima Canyon Trail
  • Finger Rock Trail
  • Ventana Trail
  • Pontatoc Trail
  • Bear Canyon Trail

Santa Catalina Mountains

  • Control Road
  • Charouleau Gap Road
  • Peppersauce Campground
  • Red Ridge Trail

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