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Buster Mountain, AZ

Guide 30 Triplogs  1 Topic
  4.2 of 5 
160 30 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.66 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,704 feet
Elevation Gain 1,858 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.16
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
24  2019-12-29 Mike_W
2  2018-12-12 MSimmons
4  2016-12-11 writelots
6  2016-11-24
Buster Canyon Loop - Tucson
10  2015-12-09
Alamo Canyon-Buster Ridgeline Loop
6  2015-11-03 Mountain_Rat
1  2014-11-26 Mountain_Rat
1  2014-11-19 rvcarter
Page 1,  2,  3
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 389
Photos 4,125
Trips 3,355 map ( 21,676 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 10 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:45am - 7:12pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2020 Bighorn Fire119.5k

Bust yourself up on Buster Mountain
by fricknaley

This is an off-trail bushwhack to the summit of Buster Mountain, a 4595-foot peak at the northern base of Pusch Ridge from Catalina State Park. It's a steep serious climb through all the desert fixin's, prime for tearing yourself up a little. The payoff is unparalleled, up-close views of Pusch Ridge that will bring tears to your eyes. There is a short maybe 8-10 foot class 4 pitch near the top. Otherwise, this is just an off-trail hike... albeit a steep one.

HIKE: Take off from the ubiquitous Catalina State Park trailhead and immediately cross Sutherland Wash. Where the Romero trail breaks left and goes up the steep hill, instead go right on the signed Birding Loop trail and follow it a short stretch until it splits into its loop at a big tree. Take the left fork and cross over a wash, go up some wooden steps, and climb the little mesa. At the top of the little climb, you will see a bench on your left. This is 0.5 miles from the start. Behind the bench, a clear unmarked, and unmaintained trail heads off left, south towards the mountains. You can follow this narrow little trail into the desert, towards Pusch Ridge. Several faint little nothing trails break off in either direction but stay the course. At about 1.15 miles from the trailhead, a faint path will break off left near some rocks, it is likely cairned (This is at roughly 32.41273, 110.90903).

This scratch route will take you about 2/3 of the way up or so. It is a very faint path and cairned route that is subtle at best. However, a hiker experienced in the Catalinas, Superstitions, or other local home to poor trails and routes will have little trouble following it. The route almost immediately drops down and over a wash, then climbs over a couple of large granite slabs (go up and look for cairns). Very soon the route starts climbing STEEPLY up the southwestern flanks of Buster. You approach many interesting rock formations. The first large outcropping you will skirt right, heading up the whole way to sort of a saddle in the slope of the mountain. From here the route climbs up steeply again, to and up some very red rock. Near the top of this formation, you start to veer left and up now heading more southeast to a second more prominent saddle. This is cairned. The views from here towards Pusch Ridge are immediately unbelievable. From here to the top is more of a true bushwhack, the little route deteriorates even more. Just keep heading up, there are traces of use routes you can follow. They mostly consist of deer tracks more than footprints. The climbing is now more severe and rocky, the mountain falls away to your right (far, far down). This is class 3 climbing here. Soon you will come to a short almost vertical rock ledge with seemingly only one way up - a short less than 10-foot class 4 pitch that is very doable. The exposure is not that bad, but it may feel like it (especially if it is windy). Once over this rock ledge, you are pretty close to the top, maybe another 0.2 miles or so of climbing through a plethora of shin daggers and pricklies. Just head up now, and before long you'll be on the southwest end of the summit. A short grassy walk over to the highpoint yields the register for those who care. Break out the handkerchief and dab your eyes as you partake of majestic views of the extremely rugged, jagged spires of Pusch Ridge. Alamo and Montrose Canyons roar up the Ridge. This is the place to be, friends.

Please be careful on this hike, as with all off-trail summits a fall here in the right place could cause REAL trouble. Please bring your standard bushwhack gear, including GPS/map.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-12-06 fricknaley
    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 overview & permits.
    2022 - 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.

    2022 Catalina State Park
    Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
    Individual/bicycle: $3.00

    2022 Sabino Canyon Tram is $15 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 hike
    From Phoenix take 1-10 south to the 241 exit (Tangerine). Follow east to AZ 77 (Oracle Road). Turn right (South) on AZ77 and signs for Catalina State Park lead the way.

    From anywhere in Tucson, connect to Oracle Rd (Highway 77) and head north past Pusch Ridge. After you have gone about 15-20 miles you will see the sign for Catalina State Park on the right. There is an entrance fee to get into the park. To get to the trails, just drive in and follow the signs to a large parking area marked "trailhead".
    page created by fricknaley on Dec 06 2009 7:47 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    prehydrate & stay hydrated

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