[NOTE: I put down 4 miles as the round-trip distance, 1-1/2 hours as my time one-way up (shamelessly not counting my half-hour dead-end detour), and 1300 as the total elevation gain.]
What a terrific hike/scramble at the north end of the Tucson Mountains just a quick drive from town. Hikes like this during my one-month break from the dark and damp of Index, Washingon, are just what the doctor ordered. So on to the fun: Park in the Sanctuary Cove parking area and walk back out to Scenic Drive and head up the good trail that starts at the end of the drive.
Keep an eye out for a modest trail taking off to the right after half a mile. That's about all you need to know. From this point on, the route is an obvious, well-used hikers track that takes you quickly up until you're nose-to-nose with the vertical north wall of Safford. No need to worry about cairns or junctions to this point -- just stay on the obvious track.
At the north wall I had the choice of a steep track that headed straight into the rocks and one that skirted left to traverse southward along the base of the cliffs. I went left and quickly found an interesting little cave -- maybe 15 feet wide and 20 feet deep, and 30 feet high or more once you step inside.
Stay on the beaten path as it curves to the west around the south side of the peak and then steeply ascends to a saddle just to the left of the summit. I wish I'd followed this advice myself. I got lured up a steep gully about a third of a mile before the saddle and spent a fruitless half hour looking for a decent way up.
At the saddle I got good views of Baboquiviri to the south, Ragged Top to the west and Picacho to the northwest. From the saddle the route turns east and offers some scrambling and routefinding challenge on the way to the top. Nothing serious -- just pay attention.
I went up on a windy day. On its third attempt, the wind took my beloved Idaho Whitewater cap for good.
[NOTE #2: I also hiked up Picacho on Nov. 18 and Wasson on Nov. 16, but what can one say that is new about those two fine hikes?]