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Panther Peak via Panther Wash, AZ

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Guide 9 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
3.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,470 feet
Elevation Gain 965 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,180 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.4
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2019-01-07
Panther Peak Loop
5  2016-02-06 kwpapke
9  2015-05-12
Safford and Panther Peaks Loop
14  2015-01-22 Jim_H
19  2008-03-01 fricknaley
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,745 map ( 18,154 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:23pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Get clawed up on Panther (from the cacti)
by fricknaley

Panther Peak is part of the famous duo making up the Northern District of Saguaro West National Park, in the northern Tucson Mountains. It's eastern neighbor is Sombrero Peak. Panther is just as much fun to climb as Sombrero, it's a wicked bushwhack. There are at least a couple ways. This route is from Picture Rocks road, from the south.

Take off on Panther Wash Trail, from Picture Rocks Road. Take a good look at Panther and spy the narrow gully that cuts up to it from the south. This is going to be your access route for this climb. The wash will take you most of the way to the gully, then you break out and ramble across desert to the gully. Good times.

The wash is a typical Sonoran desert wash, winding and generally broad. The Panther Wash trail starts off a desert trail but quickly deposits you in the wash. The wash is very easy to follow. It alternates between running north and west, taking you ever closer to the gully. There are fantastic saguaros along the way. If the season is right, there can be loads of flowers as well. There is no correct place to break out of the wash. I took it for 1.5 miles until I felt I was as close to the gully as the trail would take me. Break out the right side, and head north across desert to the mouth of the wash. To this point you have actually lost elevation. You will gain about 1080 feet over the next 1.25 miles...whee! As you head across the desert, eye your route. I recommend heading up the right/east side of the gully. As you get in the gully it narrows down a bit and becomes intermittently overgrown. You will get torn up a little, but not bad. There is always a pretty good route to follow and you will know exactly where you're going, because there is nowhere else to go. After about 0.85 miles of tough climbing (about 650 feet) you will top out at a saddle between Panther and Sombrero.

At this saddle you may see a large cairn and a easy to follow use path (this actually leads down the north side of the mountain). Follow the use path left or west as it climbs up the last 0.4 miles and 400 feet to the summit of Panther Peak. Of course, there are great views from the top, especially over the east-west ridge separating Sombrero Peak from Panther Peak. Head back down the way you came and be careful on the loose footing down the gully. This is another desert classic I hope you enjoy.

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2008-03-02 fricknaley
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Panther Peak via Panther Wash
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Got in a good after work Birthday hike, thought I would nail two peaks! Got an early start about 2:45 or so with fantastic cloud cover, could not have had much better weather for this one. I parked well north of Sanctuary Cove, they have some new nasty no parking signs just south of the little asphalt roundabout, so I parked up there and walked down the road. Made my way clockwise since I did CCW last time. The trail-ish up to Safford was better than I remember, made pretty good time. The wind kicked into gale force just as I was coming to the top of the peak to make the rock hop a little more interesting, but nothing too serious. Picked my way across to Panther Peak, I stayed with the over the top route for the most part just to add in some more climbing/ bouldering fun. I avoided taking any harm until I was climbing down the drainage from Pather and I got hooked on a Catclaw, but that one got me good. Tore up my leg and arm a bit, just flesh wounds...somehow doesn't seem right to do this one without donating back to the desert. Picked up a ton of Bursage in my boots going across the flat area just for added enjoyment. I though I would be able to do this one a little quicker since it was much cooler than my July hike last year, but it ended up making no difference. Good times again!
Panther Peak via Panther Wash
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Chosen for it's location at the north end of the range and my need to use my Parks Pass, this did not disappoint for views or being warm, relative to cold north aspects. A cairned trail has emerged for the entire route to the peak from the wash, about 100 feet shy of the wire fence across the wash.

Winter continental air clarity and distance views were out today, with even the Valley appearing to be clean, as the Supes and the Flatiron were clear. A really great afternoon.
Panther Peak via Panther Wash
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Great hike! We have not hiked in this area before and I was glad that I had my GPS out when finding the parking pull off for this trail, we did not notice any signs... There may have been some trail work in this area since the description was written? (I noticed that a proposed Panther Peak Trail is in the information here - but no idea if this is related in any way, the trail we took up just seems much more established than the description here?) In sight of a fence that comes into Panther Wash a large cairn and easy to follow trail leaves the wash on the right and heads towards the gully - this is likely further up the wash than you would go if just taking a bushwhack direct route - the trail has a good number of cairns, is easy to follow and the walking is very pleasant (quite beautiful - green desert with small flowers growing is spots). The trail gets a slightly more vague as you enter the gully but there was a very clean route marked by cairns up to the saddle and an easy to follow trail up from the saddle. Great views!! It was stormy the day we went up and watching the clouds and rain in the distance was great. Pictures:

Permit $$

Saguaro National Park
2019 $20 vehicle, $15 motorcycle or $10 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Tucson take exit 246 off I-10 and go west on Cortaro until it ends at a T. Turn right here onto Ina for a short distance, then Left onto Wade. Wade quickly becomes Picture Rocks Road and crosses through the Tucson Mountains. You'll see a couple of signs announcing Saguaro National Park. As you come down the west side of the mountains from Contzen Pass, the road swings hard to the right and then curves left. This is the Cactus Canyon trailhead. Keep going past this for about 1.2 miles. On the right you will barely see a trail sign announcing the Panther Peak Wash Trail. There is a gravel pull out big enough for a couple of cars.
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