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Bushmaster Peak - TMP, AZ

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Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 5 of 5
Distance Loop 4.22 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,158 feet
Elevation Gain 1,061 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,442 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.43
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
4  2016-01-05
Bushmaster & Tower Peaks
27  2016-01-02 AZHiker456
Author AZHiker456
author avatar Guides 28
Routes 197
Photos 7,418
Trips 184 map ( 1,713 miles )
Age 38 Female Gender
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:27pm
4 Alternative
fun little peak
by AZHiker456

Brief History: The peak is named in honor of the 158th Infantry Regiment (“Bushmasters”). At the trailhead, there is a plaque, “Dedicated Sept. 1989 to all who served as Bushmasters,” that faces the peak. It opens with the following - “No greater fighting combat team has ever deployed for battle”... Gen. Douglas MacArthur in recognition of all Bushmasters and all units attached to the 158th Infantry - followed by a brief overview of the regimen’s origins and service. For clubs or groups that like to tie events to special dates and are considering a trip to this peak, December 3rd, [which was designated “Bushmaster Day” in Arizona in 1967 by Governor Jack Williams], would be most fitting.

Hike: While the Tucson Mountains don’t boast the tallest or most remote summits in the area, they are still very beautiful and offer some fun little peaks. Bushmaster is one of those peaks; and the loop I ended up taking in the process of bagging this summit was tons of fun with awesome desert scenery throughout.

There are likely many options for bagging Bushmaster. The loop route I took kicks off from the first parking area described in the directions section. It’s the parking area with a one-way exit / entrance, on the right side of West Gates Pass road [if coming from Tucson], located just before the road takes a sharp left.

The trickiest part in terms of route finding may prove to be at the very beginning. With all of the people that like to pull up and then go scampering a short distance up the small rock formations in the area, the myriad of routes taking off from the parking area could be a bit confusing. On top of that, [if doing the loop in a clockwise fashion as I had], it wasn’t entirely clearly in the beginning which rock outcroppings / small formations I would be skirting vs going over. Needless to say, I was extremely thankful to have had a GPS track for the beginning part of the loop; to say it was useful and prevented me from going off course would be an understatement. If you’re not familiar with the area or not going with someone who has been to this peak before, then I would highly recommend using a GPS track.

I enjoyed how the terrain really kept me guessing as to exactly how and when I would eventually end up on the ridgeline. After about the first mile, the correct route becomes much more obvious, and there were only a handful of other times that I needed to look at my GPS to determine which general direction to head. The views really open up at this point as well. The combination of neat, smaller rock formations and the unique shape of many peaks in the area really make for some pretty and interesting views.

Shortly after the route passes the turnoff for Tower Peak, the ridgeline section begins, and the way to go becomes obvious. The route is also much more defined along the ridgeline, and there are several well-placed cairns. For the most part, the ridgeline section is tons of fun, with many solid boulders and even a few sections that require some scrambling up gullies and a chute like rock, but nothing very difficult. The most challenging part for me was a short, steep segment with some very loose footing. While negotiating loose footing is not my forte, it’s still not very often that I have to watch it on the uphill; but for this one short section, I needed to do just that!

There are some good false summit fake-outs on this ridgeline… but they are enjoyable. In other words, [aside from the section with very loose footing], this is one fun ridgeline to traverse and false summits meant there was more fun to be had! Eventually you’ll come to the highpoint. There are a couple of extra cairns at the highpoint but I couldn’t find a register.

After the highpoint, the ridgeline continues; and so does the defined route. The footing from the highpoint to the other end of the ridgeline was excellent, with many solid large boulders. Instead of cliffing out as it may appear from a distance, the other end of the ridgeline drops off with solid boulders that are spaced just the right distance apart to make the descent doable. There was some loose footing to contend with in a few places, but nothing terrible; for the most part, it was rock-hopping fun!

Once off the steep section, [which was quite short from this end], a very generous drainage will lead you the rest of the way down to base of the mountain. In addition to almost no brush and tons of solid, good-gripping boulders, there were also some routes with a few cairns here and there that wove in and out of the drainage. At this point, the terrain is very forgiving and the going is quite fast for being off-trail. For most of the way down, I ignored the routes and stayed in the drainage for some added fun.

The final section of the loop simply involves breaking out of the drainage to the right and heading across an extremely easy section of terrain toward the parking area. Since the direction is obvious and the terrain very forgiving, there isn’t really a critical point at which to break from the drainage. I stayed in the drainage until it really started to level out, [at which point it gets a bit brushy], and then headed to the right toward the parking area. The closer you get to the parking area, the more and more routes you’ll start to notice from the many people that have pulled up and decided to take a short scamper in the mountains. However, unlike in the beginning where the way to go was not entirely clear, the direction back to the parking area is very obvious. The route I opted for took me over some of the smaller rock formations for some extra fun and more views.

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2016-01-02 AZHiker456
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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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Bushmaster Peak - TMP
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Tower & Bushmaster Peaks
I had my plans set on a trip to the TMP after work today, but had a hard time deciding which peak(s) to hit. I finally settled on doing the Tower and Bushmaster loop again, good stuff. This might be about the toughest 4 mile hike pound for pound that I have been on, even on the second go around. Got started a bit before 3 from the Gates Pass overlook. Took some of the social trails into the valley where they seem to disappear, and then started the bushwhack. My legs had healed up from doing Lime Creek in shorts last weekend, well they are all marked up again. I did this trip as basically the same route as I had done last winter, just CCW this time to hit up Tower first. There is a pretty good use trail for a stretch to the saddle, then it is just find the path of least resistance up to the Tower. Lots of scree and stabby plants to contend with along the way. Took a nice break up top, and then started making my way across the Bushmaster ridge. There is a better use/ game trail heading east to follow for long stretches. I spooked a pack of about a dozen javelina (adults and babies of all sizes) on my trek across, one even stopped for a while at about 20 feet so I could get a good look. Pretty steep and loose on the last ascent up Bushmaster, but a good peak. I could see the parking lot pretty close from the top, unfortunately it was not a straight line return. I cut down one of the drainages from the ridge, it was much harder going down this area than up like I had done the last time. I really had to go it slow to make sure and get good footing to avoid the slide into cholla or catclaw. Made it back to the parking lot right about 6 for a quick break, and then the ride home to Phoenix. Very cool but rugged combo if that is your kind of hike.
Bushmaster Peak - TMP
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Bushmaster & Tower Peaks
Finally, first hike of the year! Thanks to AZhiker456 for posting the description on the Bushmaster loop, this got me thinking. Then I found a track combining this with Tower Peak, so count me in! I made my first trip down to Tucson of the year, and I had to deliver some plants out to the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum (very cool place if you have never been), so that about sealed things up. I started hiking about 3:20 with overcast skies, but a hope for no rain for a little while...Parked at the Gates Pass scenic overlook and started picking my way around. There are some faint use trails, I ended up going off trail up to the Bushmaster ridge. Once up on the ridgeline there was once again a bit of a trail, path of least resistance of nothing else. Made it over to Bushmaster Peak for a brief stop, the wind was howling. I then retraced my steps back and on over to Tower peak. This one was short but sweet, I ended up taking a different path to the top that was a fun climb. Light was failing, so I tried to kick it in to gear as much as possible, but pretty hard to go to fast in this terrain. I took the use trail most of the way back to the parking area, but got off trail in the lower reaches and just bee-lined it to the van. I really like this hike, short but good effort nonetheless. Interesting views of the TMP and Saguaro park. I definitely paid the price of admission on this one, pain checklist for the day went like this: solid cholla bomb hit to my calf (that took a while to pry loose, still more removal once I got home), Ocotillo to the head for a nice bleeder, a few not-so-freindly Catclaw encounters, and one solid tumble on a scree slope. I will have to come back one of these days to do the Bushmaster loop, the eastern drop down looked pretty fun. Lots of big scat in some areas, there must be a mountain lion or two that live up around here.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Gates Pass Trailhead
-10 East to Tucson; turn onto Speedway Blvd going West away from Tucson; at the intersection of Speedway Blvd. and N. Camino De Oeste, Speedway Blvd becomes West Gates Pass Road, continue on this road toward Saguaro National Park. To your right you will see the International Wildlife Museum with a big statue of a lion out front, continue on West Gates Pass Road and the road will start get very windy and the speed limit goes to 25 mph yet paved. Continue past the first parking area to the right, the road will start descending and wind sharply left. The 2nd parking area is to the left after starting the descent and sharp turn. This 2nd parking area is less developed with no restrooms or water available. The first parking area is situated in between some very steep hills on both sides and has water and restrooms with many parking spaces so if you need water and a break you should stop here. At the 2nd parking area a trail head is visible and goes straight up toward some little peaks in the area. You will reach a fork in the trails with signs marking Gate's Pass and other trails. You have a choice either to continue around the circumference of the peaks or heading straight up to the peaks if desired.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 114 mi, 1 hour 46 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 7.8 mi, 15 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 258 mi, 3 hours 52 mins
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