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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Safford and Panther Peaks Loop, AZ

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Guide 15 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
4 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,582 feet
Elevation Gain 1,245 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,224 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.42
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
Inaugural Calculation next Tap
5  2016-02-13
Sombrero Peak with Panther Loop
9  2015-05-12 The_Dude
14  2015-03-01 GrottoGirl
6  2014-07-01 The_Dude
5  2013-07-13 azdesertfather
10  2011-02-20 GrottoGirl
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   Winter
Sun  6:54am - 5:24pm
Route Scout App
Official Route
2 Linked
Nearby Area Water
North Tucson Mountains Superloop
North Tucson Mountains Superloop
same trailhead
7.0 mi
2,700 ft
Safford Peak (Sombrero)
Safford Peak (Sombrero)
same trailhead
4.0 mi
1,365 ft
Safford Canyon to Peak 3263
Safford Canyon to Peak 3263
0.6 mi away
5.0 mi
990 ft
Coyote Pass from Picture Rocks
Coyote Pass from Picture Rocks
1.9 mi away
6.0 mi
530 ft
Brittlebush to Peak 3373
Brittlebush to Peak 3373
1.9 mi away
7.6 mi
991 ft
Brittlebush from Picture Rocks - Saguaro NP W
Brittlebush from Picture Rocks - Saguaro NP W
1.9 mi away
6.2 mi
450 ft
Gila Monster Loop
Gila Monster Loop
1.9 mi away
5.5 mi
486 ft
Picture Rocks Wash to Peak 3263
Picture Rocks Wash to Peak 3263
1.9 mi away
6.3 mi
875 ft
Peak 3037 - Brittlebush Loop
Peak 3037 - Brittlebush Loop
1.9 mi away
6.9 mi
773 ft
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
Cactus Canyon from Picture Rocks
1.9 mi away
5.2 mi
-200 ft
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Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Desert Peak Delight
by GrottoGirl

Likely In-Season!
Overview: This is one of my favorite winter Tucson hikes that has plenty of route finding, rock scrambling, exposure, and views.

Warning: This is a winter hike only. Only attempt if you are used to off-trail hiking and rock scrambling.

Hike: Start at Sanctuary Cove and follow one of the most direct trails up to a saddle that is right on the edge of Saguaro National Park. From there follow a well defined route that heads south along the east side of Safford Peak. Once you hit a saddle that is almost to the east of Safford turn right onto another route and started hiking upwards. The rocky route steeply ascends and one must take care not to slip on the loose rocks. Make sure you kept to the left at any more obvious decision points along the route. You will want to swing around to the southwest side of of the peak and then up a drainage. That's where the real fun begins. You'll scramble up to the top where you can have lunch and enjoy the view.

Safford Peak is just never enough, right? Therefore, you can take the ridge from the top of Safford towards Panther Peak. If you're not that crazy about rock scrambling, you can go down the drainage to the desert floor and swing around over to Panther. However, that is not the plan with this hike. Instead you will follow the ridgeline pretty closely scrambling up and down the peaks along the way. Keep an eye out for a window/arch, you can actually dart through the mountain! When you are about to the last peak you'll want to pay attention as to not cliff-out. I recommend that you head off the ridge to the south to a cholla forest. From there you can find a gap in which you can descend slightly to a spot where we could get contour around to the saddle between Safford and Panther. From the saddle you can walk up to the top of Panther using a well defined route. This is the tamest part of the hike. After a short break, head back the way you came to the saddle.

Back at the saddle between Panther and Safford head down on the north side, opposite from where you came earlier. It is steep descent down a well defined route. Follow that route until you came to the desert floor. From there you'll take a right turn at a junction with another route that typically would take you to White Stallion Ranch. When the trail turns to go into White Stallion Ranch you'll want to bushwhack up to the first saddle that you hit when I starting from Sanctuary Cove. From there return down to the cars using the same trail you went up.

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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
$15 vehicle, $10 motorcycle or $5 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Scenic Drive Turnaround Trailhead
From I-10 take Cortaro Rd. west (exit 246). Turn right`(north) on Silverbell roughly 1 mile. Turn left on Coachline (at light) go approx. 0.3 miles. Turn right on Pima Farms go approx 1 mile. Turn left on Scenic, this dirt road takes you 0.25 miles to the parking lot (Sanctuary Cove) on your right. (best keep reading...)

2012-02-12 Caretakers sanctuary cove write: Sanctuary Cove parking lot is for guests visiting the chapel and grounds. Parking for the peak is down scenic drive in the turnaround space. Any cars with guests hiking off the property will be impounded.

2012-06-24 anonymous writes: Greetings! Sanctuary Cove is no longer the parking area for the Safford Peak hike. There is a turn out on the right side of the road a short distance before the entrance to the Cove. This is where to park now. If you park at the Cove you risk having your vehicle locked in if you are not back by the time the gates are locked - which is at sundown. However there is a short hike at the Cove where you are welcome to park your car for that one.
page created by GrottoGirl on Feb 20 2011 9:38 pm
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