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Rattlesnake Peak, AZ

Guide 6 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,025 feet
Elevation Gain 3,920 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,290 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 31.45
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
13  2017-03-03 rvcarter
23  2015-12-26 AZHiker456
7  2011-01-30 GrottoGirl
Author GrottoGirl
author avatar Guides 3
Routes 311
Photos 11,581
Trips 1,357 map ( 9,480 miles )
Age 46 Female Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Jan → 7 AM
Seasons   Winter
Sun  5:17am - 7:33pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Bushwhack Extraordinaire!
by GrottoGirl

A great bushwhack to Rattlesnake Peak from Sabino Canyon Visitor Center - only 4 of the approximate 10 miles were on trail. Rattlesnake Peak is the highest point between Cathedral Rock and Sabino Canyon. You may not have even noticed it, but it is there and ready to be bagged. From the top you will be treated to great views of the Catalinas and beyond.

The majority of this hike is off-trail. It is advisable to eat a large dinner the night before this hike. You'll need all the energy you can muster - but it is worth it!

You start out on the road going into Sabino Canyon. After a half mile turn north onto the Esperero Trail. After almost two miles into the journey you will reach the ridge between Rattlesnake and Bird canyons. This is where the off-trail adventure begins! Follow a route that leaves the trail to the east. Look for some cairns up to the top of the ridge at point 3490. Mind you it is very easy to lose track of the route and the cairns so keep in mind that your goal is to get on top of the ridge. This part of the trek will involve dodging a lot of bushes and cactus. If you're lucky, you will get through without having to stop and remove the cactus spines!

Once you get on the top of the ridge, you will notice that there is less vegetation to battle. From there you will follow the ridge going northeast basically staying on top of the ridge until the ridge turned to go more north. At that point, avoid the higher part of the ridge by contouring on the west side of the ridge.

The nearer you get to the peak, the steeper the route will became. You will have to do a bit of navigating around some big rocks and bushes. As the route was getting steeper, you should aim to be more on the east side of the ridge. The Santa Catalina Mountains, A Guide to the Trails and Routes puts it all into perspective saying, "This is the hardest part but not because it is steep and rocky. The difficulty is finding routes through the thickets of manzanita and oak. Staying on the crest is no good. Most hikers drop down 50 feet or so on the east side and thrash their way to the top."

Sooner or later (depending on how many times you have to stop to rest), you'll reach the top. This is a great place to take a lunch break. There are many rocks in which to hang out on and explore around. The views are outstanding in all 360 degrees!

On the return trip you'll retrace your steps. You might find the journey down a bit hard on the knees - I know I did!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2011-02-03 GrottoGirl
    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 $$
    Visit this link for full details.
    2021 - FAQ
    $8 per vehicle per day
    $10 per vehicle per week
    $40 per vehicle per year (valid for one year from date of purchase)

    There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
    1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
    2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
    3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
    4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day-use sites.

    2021 Catalina State Park
    Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
    Individual/bicycle: $3.00

    2021 Sabino Canyon Tram is $12 extra. [ website ]

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Sabino Canyon Recreation Trailhead
    From the intersection of Tanque Verde and Grant/Kolb Rd head northeast on Tanque Verde. Turn left at the second light on Sabino Canyon Rd. Go about 8 miles up Sabino Canyon Rd and you come to a four way stop with Sunrise. Go straight through the intersection and take the next right into the parking lot of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Signs marking the way start on North Kolb road.

    This is the universal directions to Sabino Canyon Recreation Center. Hikes take off from all directions and some you might need to hike another trail to get to the start of your hike. Reference the hike summary for details.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 117 mi - about 1 hour 57 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 14.1 mi - about 30 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 261 mi - about 4 hours 1 min
    page created by GrottoGirl on Feb 03 2011 7:44 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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