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Panther Peak via Panther Wash, AZ

Guide 10 Triplogs  1 Topic
  3.8 of 5 
63 10 1
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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
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
1  2020-12-26 fricknaley
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 387
Photos 4,001
Trips 3,139 map ( 20,391 miles )
Age 45 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  5:40am - 7:21pm
Official Route
2 Alternative

Get clawed up on Panther (from the cacti)
by fricknaley

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

Take off on Panther Wash Trail, from Picture Rocks Road. Please 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 the 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 the 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.

You may see a large cairn at this saddle and an 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 Panther Peak's summit. 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.

Permit $$

Saguaro National Park
2020 $25 vehicle • $20 motorcycle • $15 individual on foot or bicycle
Receipt is valid for 7 days
$45 Annual Park Pass View All

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 pullout big enough for a couple of cars.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
prehydrate & stay hydrated
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