Get clawed up on Panther (from the cacti)
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.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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