Tumamoc Hill is home to the University of Arizona's Desert Laboratory, and has been home to the Desert Laboratory since it's inception in 1903 under the direction of the US Department of Agriculture. Centuries earlier, the hill was home to the Hohokam and remains a cherished archaeological site due to some of the unique features its previous inhabitants left behind. According to the University of Arizona: Tumamoc Hill, occupied between 300 BC and AD 450, is one of only a handful of trincheras, or terrace hillside sites, in the Sonoran Desert. Its features include terraces, walls, petroglyphs, trails, bedrock mortars and approximately 150 small, circular pit structures. Also present are a number of rocks adorned with petroglyphs. It should be noted, however, that these sites are closed to the public and few are visible from the path. Today, continued access to Tumamoc is in jeopardy due to off-trail travel and general disrespect for usage guidelines.Hike:
The path to the summit of Tumamoc Hill is a paved road, and I choose to include it on HAZ for completeness sake, as much as the fact that it provides amazing views of the Tucson valley and Sentinel Peak. Additionally, Tumamoc is a great afternoon or early morning workout destination for a quick jaunt into the pristine desert and is located near enough to most Tucsonans to provide a real opportunity for such activity. The path is a popular destination for walkers and trail runners. It should also be noted that the path is off-limits between the hours of 0730 and 1730 on weekdays, to protect research activities. Additionally, visitors should understand and respect the strict policy forbidding off-path travel. The area and the research it supports are sensitive, and the research is over a century old.
The path leaves Anklam road and passes a set of pipe gates, which may or may not be unlocked. They may be bypassed to the left. The path heads due south into the Tucson mountains. After a short distance it begins its pattern of long switchbacks, which become progressively steeper. The views of the Tucson valley and the mountain ranges beyond gradually becomes broader, as well. After a mile the path approaches a series of basalt stone buildings that look as though they should be transplanted into Tucson's Armory Park district. Another gate is encountered here, and is also likely to be locked. Walk around to the right. The switchbacks become steeper for the final half-time into the crest. Despite being populated with radio towers and shacks, the views from the summit are sweeping and make you immediately forget the fact that you just walked up a road. Return the way you came.