Chiva Falls, Arizona

Chiva Falls in December 2012

Arizona might not come to mind when you hear “waterfalls.” It’s all desert, right? Well, there are more waterfalls than one might expect, at least at the right time of year.

The Tucson area has a surprising number of waterfalls. I’ve visited Seven Falls almost 5 years ago, and that was the hike I base all other hikes off of. It was long, winding, and rather unenjoyable. I decided to come back to Tucson, and started looking for other waterfall hikes that weren’t nearly as bad. The Tanque Verde Falls hike is shorter, and yet seems more complicated. The hike to Chiva Falls, while longer, sounded less difficult.

And honestly, the hike itself wasn’t terribly difficult. It is 7.4 miles round trip, so distance will play some role. The path has its ups and downs, though it is moderated by stretches of relative flatness. At no point was I thinking I had signed up for voluntary torture. Once you get to the falls, you’re rewarded with a very beautiful view. I found it to be more interesting than Seven Falls, maybe because I had enough energy to enjoy the falls.

Other Notes:

  • This is seasonal, and does seem to be best viewed after a rainfall. (It had just rained that morning in the Tucson area.)
  • Reddington Road, the road to the trailhead, is rough, but still drive-able with a smaller car.
  • The path to the falls is also a 4×4/ATV path, and while you’ll likely be the only HIKER, you’re unlikely to be alone. Solitude may be difficult to find.
  • Pay attention to the signs. It’s not very difficult to find, but if you miss a sign, it may become far more difficult. (After about 2 miles in, it helps to try and identify Chiva Falls from afar.)

Directions:

  1. In Tucson, drive along Tanque Verde Road, until it becomes Reddington Road.
  2. Reddington Road becomes dirt after a certain point. Drive a little more than 4 miles along the road once it becomes DIRT. You will see a staging area on your left and a parking area (which can be difficult to see) on your right. If you pass mile marker 8, you have gone TOO far.
  3. Turn right into the parking area.
  4. Start along the trail connected to the parking area. The trail is very wide since it will also be used by all-terrain vehicles.
  5. Just keep following this trail for 2 miles or so. (Don’t think to hard for a while.)
  6. After 2 miles, you will see a large pond (shielded by wire fencing) on your left. At this point, look to your right for a faint hiking trail. Take this trail. (If you miss it, that’s fine…You can still also keep following the ATV trail, since you’ll rejoin it later. It’s just nice to have a trail to yourself for a while.)
  7. Follow this faint trail to the end of a very large cedar tree. Soon after this, you will reconnect to the wider trail.
  8. You will pass a trail 4405 on your right. Stay on the ATV trail.
  9. Soon after that, you will come to a “fork” in the road. Take the right trail, which was unsigned at that specific point. Do not take trail 4426 (to your left).
  10. This right trail is 4405. Go down hill for a short distance, and you’ll come to an open space (which might be a wash with water at certain times). Keep to the far right, following the main ATV trail. If in doubt, you should see a sign (pointed toward you) for 4405.
  11. Keep walking on 4405 until you come to 4405A. Take a left onto 4405A, which heads downhill.
  12. At the end of 4405A is the falls!

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 75′
Length of Hike: 7.4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Chiva Falls?

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Upper Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado

Now this waterfall isn’t officially named Upper Helen Hunt Falls, but it seems pretty appropriate.  When we visited Helen Hunt Falls near Colorado Springs last year, we walked along the trail above the falls.  As we were walking along, we noticed that there were a number of drops above Helen Hunt Falls.  Some of them were not considerably large, but there were one or two drops that were larger.  They are not advertised, but they are pretty obvious.  I’ve decided to clump these together as Upper Helen Hunt Falls.  They’re just another added benefit of visiting Helen Hunt Falls, where you can also see the very cool Silver Cascade Falls and a great view of Colorado Springs.

Directions:

  1. Take the Nevada exit from I-25 in Colorado Springs.
  2. Take Nevada Rd. south until you reach Cheyenne Boulevard. Head west on Cheyenne Blvd.
  3. The road will fork. Follow the sign for Helen Hunt Falls, which will be the right fork. From there the parking area will be a short distance from that fork on your left
  4. At the parking area, there will be the visitor’s center, and Helen Hunt Falls is just to the left of the visitor’s center.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Upper Helen Hunt Falls in August 2009

Where in the World is Upper Helen Hunt Falls?

Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado

I can’t say that we found Helen Hunt Falls by accident, as I think I had directions to the falls. We just didn’t plan on visiting the falls…that is until we went to Seven Falls, which is in the vicinity, and were rather disappointed. We didn’t spend very much time at Seven Falls, since neither my dad nor I had any intentions of climbing up the crazy number of stairs.

I looked at the other waterfalls that were in the area, and noticed that Helen Hunt Falls didn’t seem to be too far away at all. We had had some difficulty finding Seven Falls, but the drive to Helen Hunt Falls from Seven Falls wasn’t too bad. I may have used my GPS, which has a number of tourist attractions entered in.

When we got to Helen Hunt Falls, we were pleasantly surprised. The waterfall is wildly easy to visit. From the parking area, you will be able to see the falls. Visiting the falls is free, and you can hike further up to see other waterfalls, including Silver Cascade Falls. After paying a considerable amount to visit Seven Falls, I felt it appropriate to leave a donation at the visitor’s center, considering this set of waterfalls was just as interesting.

Directions:

  1. Take the Nevada exit from I-25 in Colorado Springs.
  2. Take Nevada Rd. south until you reach Cheyenne Boulevard. Head west on Cheyenne Blvd.
  3. The road will fork. Follow the sign for Helen Hunt Falls, which will be the right fork. From there the parking area will be a short distance from that fork on your left.
  4. At the parking area, there will be the visitor’s center, and Helen Hunt Falls is just to the left of the visitor’s center.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: negligible

Helen Hunt Falls in August 2009

Where in the World is Helen Hunt Falls?

Silver Cascade Falls, Colorado

After visiting Seven Falls and being somewhat disappointed, we decided to find Helen Hunt Falls, and in the process found Silver Cascade Falls. You’ll first see Helen Hunt Falls, and then a short hike leads to Silver Cascade Falls.

The benefit about these two waterfalls over Seven Falls is that they are FREE. There is no cost to visit the falls, though I did donate some money for the upkeep, which I totally support. The hike to the falls has fencing, though it’s not exactly that steep or dangerous. The trail is actually very appropriate even for younger children, as there is only a small amount of incline, and the trail is relatively short.

Directions:

  1. Take the Nevada exit from I-25 in Colorado Springs.
  2. Take Nevada Rd. south until you reach Cheyenne Boulevard. Head west on Cheyenne Blvd.
  3. The road will fork. Follow the sign for Helen Hunt Falls, which will be the right fork. From there the parking area will be a short distance from that fork on your left.
  4. At the parking area, there will be the visitor’s center, and the start of the trail to Silver Cascade Falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 200′
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip

Silver Cascade Falls in August 2009

Where in the World is Silver Cascade Falls?

Seven Falls, Colorado

Seven Falls in August 2009

Seven Falls is much better in picture than in person. That is the moral of this waterfall. I paid $8 to visit this falls, and was surprisingly disappointed. First of all, I guess it doesn’t help that I’m not a big fan of heights, and to get up close and personal with the falls, you’ve got to walk on some very shaky stairs without anything below.

Beside that, I just wasn’t impressed in person, at least not considering how much I paid to visit it. There are other more interesting falls that are free in the area. I have to admit, though, that the photos of the falls are really cool. The rock colors around the falls are just amazing. The best place I found to view the falls is by taking the elevator up to a viewing platform.

A ranger at the site at Helen Hunt Falls and Silver Cascade Falls suggested taking the Mount Cutler Trail (map) in the North Cheyenne Canyon area, which he said leads to a good view of Seven Falls without the added costs. We didn’t end up trying it.

Directions:
I had a terrible time finding this falls, so I’m going to defer to the Seven Falls website to get directions to this falls. Your best bet if you have a GPS would be to enter the following address into the system:

2850 S. Cheyenne Canyon Road
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906

Accessibility: 10/10
Height: 181′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Seven Falls?

Seven Falls, Arizona

Full view of Seven Falls

The trip to Seven Falls is probably the farthest I’ve trekked to see a waterfall. Roundtrip, the trail to the falls must be at least 8 miles, though it seemed much longer than that. Maybe it’s 4 miles straight shot, but there is no way to walk “straight” to this waterfall. You’re going to walk up and then down, and then repeat this process over and over again. Near the end, you’ll encounter some moderately steep switchbacks.

Seven Falls is aptly named, as I believe there are seven separate drops. You will also cross the stream seven times to get to the falls. This journey is NOT for the faint of heart. Along the way, my dad and I encountered someone who had just had knee surgery. The trail to Seven Falls is NOT appropriate if you’re in any way out of shape. Just a warning!

Directions:

  1. You want to get onto Tanque Verde Road.
  2. From Tanque Verde Road, you will turn north onto Sabino Canyon Road.
  3. Head north on Sabino Canyon Road to the entrance of the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
  4. Enter, pay the $5 entrance fee, and park.
  5. I guess you can choose to take a tram and shorten the length of the hike. This might be advisable. You can also start hiking from the parking lot, which we did, though this adds 2 miles to the round trip. (It would only be 6 miles with the tram.)

***Bring water, lots and lots of water!

***Bring very good shoes that have a LOT of give. Otherwise you’ll regret it.

***The last section of trail to the falls involves walking only feet from some very steep drops. If you’re afraid of heights, this might not enjoy this part. (I’m speaking from experience here.)

Accessiblity: 1/10 (strenuous)
Height: ~150′
Length of Hike: 8.2 miles round-trip

Lower drop of Seven Falls

Where in the World is Seven Falls?