The Hummingbird Trail is a 2/3 mile (round trip) paved pathway with picnic ramadas, benches, plant identification signs and interpretive displays. This nature trail begins near the Sonoran Spa where cottontail rabbits often feed on the grass, and you’ll see and hear many desert birds as you walk along. Look among the bushes and cacti for their nests.
Stop 1: The Catalina Ramada
A dramatic view of the Santa Catalina Mountains forms the backdrop here. At 9,157 feet, these mountains are covered with ponderosa pine and are home to black bear and white-tailed deer. Off to the right of the trail is a pathway leading to several groupings of cacti and succulents where you’ll find many species of barrel cactus, chollas, prickly pear and aloe plants
Stop 2: The Hohokam Ramada
The prehistoric Hohokam Indians inhabited this region until around 1450 A.D., when they mysteriously disappeared. They were farmers who built extensive canals to irrigate their fields. One of their major food resources was the agave. Its fibrous leaves could be cut from the plant to make rope, mats and fiber. The large heart, toxic when raw, was roasted in a pit in the ground for two days until it became sweet and nutritious. The Hohokam also ground beans from mesquite trees into flour using stone metates like the one on display here and gathered sweet saguaro fruit to eat. It you sit quietly, many of the desert birds will stop by for a drink or a bath at the water dripper
Stop 3: The Desert Willow Bench
The desert willow tree near the wash blooms during the summer with fragrant lavender flowers that resemble orchids. Look for lizards sunning on the rocks or hunting in the sandy wash here. Most of the lizards are insect feeders but some also hunt smaller lizards. These little reptiles are active during the summer months and often display bright blue, orange, pink or yellow breeding colors. On the right of the trail look for our Chef’s Garden where many of the ingredients used in the cuisine served in GOLD and Lookout Bar and Grille are grown.
Stop 4: The Ocotillo Ramada
The ocotillo, which is not a cactus, may appear dead much of the time but it is only waiting for moisture. During the warm season the ocotillo can sprout leaves within 48 hours of rain. Leaves stay on the plants for several weeks, then drop again until the next rain. Scarlet red flowers appear at the branch tips in March and April, attracting hummingbirds, orioles, verdins and other nectar-loving birds. The ocotillo may live for 200 years and some older plants have as many as 70 branches.
Stop 5: The Ironwood Circle
The ironwood tree, which may live more than 800 years, is named for its extremely dense and heavy wood, which is used by the Seri Indians of Mexico to make beautiful carvings of animals. In years of good rainfall the whole tree is covered in lavender flowers for a few weeks during May or June. During dry years the tree conserves energy by flowering sparsely. The bean pods are edible and ripen late in the summer