username
X
password
register help

Rattlesnake Peak, AZ

details
drive
permit
forecast
route
stats
photos
triplogs
topics
location
43 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
Rated
4
4 of 5 by 3
 
1
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
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 304
Photos 10,947
Trips 1,252 map ( 8,696 miles )
Age 44 Female Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Expand Map
Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Jan → 7 AM
Seasons   Winter
Sun  6:11am - 6:21pm
Official Route
 
1 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Bushwhack Extraordinaire!
by GrottoGirl

Overview
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.


Warning
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!

Hike
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.

Note
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
  • sub-region related
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
Rattlesnake Peak
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
We saw a mountain lion!!!

Frank and I tried this three years back but didn't make it to the top due to an error on my part (tried to navigate around the east side of the last knob about 1000 feet below the peak). We kind of backed into trying this one again when some other plans fell through, and we couldn't come up with anything interesting. Niel fell in with us, even with my dire description of this peak's difficulty. Got an early start and were blessed with cool temps and a cloud cover.

We saw the mountain lion about 1/3 of the way down from the peak, bounding up the slope and visible for about 10 seconds. We earlier flushed a white tail deer and wondered if that was enough to bring him out into the open. This was our first sighting after hiking the Catalinas, a lot of it off trail, for 10+ years. Also saw a red tailed hawk.

Of the 10 miles, less than 4 are on trail. The rest is up the ridge through a mix of desert cacti, scrub oak, and grass. Luckily, no snakes or bees. There is actually a faint trail at a few points, likely game routes (we saw a wildlife camera at one choke point). Scrambling is necessary at a few places, but nothing above class 3. All in all, this is a very difficult day, but the views at the top are outstanding in every direction. From the north side of the peak, you can view right down into the East Fork, West Fork and nearly see Romero Pass. Check out Grottogirl's description. She had it right when she recommended a full meal the night before.

If you're interested in more pix and some video, I posted a video on my Youtube channel "roy v carter".

You won't run into ANY people after leaving the Esperero Trail. WE SAW A MOUNTAIN LION!!

Wildflowers
Not much yet, but look out in a week or two.
Rattlesnake Peak
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Great bushwhack from Sabino Canyon VC - only 4 of the 10 miles were on trail.

We started out on the road going into Sabino Canyon. After a half mile we turned north onto the Esperero Trail. Almost two miles into the journey we hit the ridge between Rattlesnake and Bird canyons. We followed a route/cairns up to the top of the ridge at point 3490. This part of the trek involved dodging a lot of bushes and cactus.

One we got on the top of the ridge, there was less vegetation for us to battle. From there we followed the ridge going northeast basically staying on top of the ridge until the ridge turned to go more north. At that point, we avoided the higher part of the ridge by contouring on the west side of the ridge.

The nearer we got to the peak, the steeper the route became. We had to do a bit of navigating around some big rocks and bushes. As the route was getting steeper, we found ourselves 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 roucky. The difficulty is finding routes through the thickets of manzanita and oack. 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."

The top was a treat. We found we weren't the only ones who were enjoying the Peak - the lady bugs had beat us to the top. There are many rocks in which to hang out on and explore around. We had our lunch and a photo session. The views are outstanding in all 360 degrees!

We then came back the way we came. I found the journey down a bit rough as my right knee was killing me from the activities the day before. However, we made it out and were able hit Risky's for some after hiking refreshments.

Yay! I hiked over 100 miles for the month! That makes two months in a row :)

Permit $$
Visit this link for full details.

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.

Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $10 extra.

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


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
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
help comment issue

end of page marker