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Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak, AZ

1.3k 358 4
Guide 358 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
4.2 of 5 by 96
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,784 feet
Elevation Gain 1,401 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,880 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 - 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.3
Interest Peak
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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4  2019-06-09 bkraay
7  2019-04-07 KellyDawn
4  2019-03-16 Chapman
5  2019-01-20
Picacho Peak Loop
6  2019-01-20
Picacho Peak Loop
25  2018-11-25 Naferg323
4  2018-11-25 caragruey
5  2018-11-04 te_wa
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,257 map ( 21,432 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → 10 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:29pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Adventure Trail
by joebartels

Stats are to the peak, including Sunset Trail segment.

Between Phoenix and Tucson lies this mysterious peak jutting out of the desert. Picacho Peak is one of those mountains you just have to hike! This is a unique trail with cables and handrails placed by the Boy scouts long ago.

The first section takes you up steep switchbacks to the saddle. When in season a beautiful wildflower is witnessed at the beginning of the trail. February through early April offers the best rewards. Keep an eye on triplogs and photosets.

Okay from the saddle you have just gained 968 feet in altitude. Now you will begin to descend believe it or not. Yes, descend almost half of what you just gained! ( 225 feet ) This is the beginning of the fun. Cables assist you down the steep slick slope. Personally I would avoid this trail when it is wet! Some prefer gloves for the cables.

You merge onto the Sunset Trail. The trail goes back around the mountain and starts to ascend steeply near the end. Once again handrails, cables and even bridges! assist you along the way. This is boy scout dream land! On the peak enjoy the views. With a good knowledge of the surrounding area this is a prime viewing location.

1-2 quarts water is plenty for me moderate weather. Pack a lunch for the summit. When a scattered group of fifty is chowing down you feel like it's the thing to do. Speaking from one that frequents the Valley shrines Squaw and Camelback, this is similar terrain. It's just more intense with the cable grades. For the beginning hiker I can only imagine this is quite a push. Stay out of 8am-5pm heat when hiking this area in the summer. Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

1998-02-17 joebartels
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  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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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 of 34 deeper Triplog Reviews
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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I've done this hike several times over the years, but this time was a little bit special for a few reasons. First, most of my training for the past year plus has been on the Peloton since I aggravated an old achilles and calf injury some time back, and my hiking has been limited. Secondly, at the end of the month I fly to Portland, Maine to join a dear friend on the Appalachian Trail for 40 miles over two days. He started in Georgia on March 8, and will complete the trail on July 8--so pleased to join him for a couple of days. Our last hike together was several days in Peru on the Salkantay trek to Macchu Pichu. Lastly, the wildlife on this one was crazy! Pre-saddle, I heard a shuffle in the bushes and saw an adult red fox--I was too slow to get the phone out to snap a picture, but I'd never seen that. Finally, as I started my descent I heard a noise and saw a baby red fox staring at me from what looked to be a den--after a few minutes, another joined him. I just observed for a few minutes in peace and quiet before continuing my descent.

I reached the summit in 54 minutes, hung out for 15 minutes or so, and even with the time hanging with the foxes, the entire hike to and from my car was 1:57. I was the first up, but did pass five guys on the way out. Always enjoy this one!
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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I got an early start before sunrise to beat the heat and only saw one other person all day, a 20 year old from Tucson who had never been up Picacho before and told me he wanted to hike the PCT. I encouraged him to try some AZT segments first to get a feel for through hiking.

Opted for the return on Sunset though I hate that stretch along the road to get back. Tagged on a trip to the Calloway overlook where the gnats were viciously annoying.

Considered a cherry dipp’d and a turd but decided against both and headed instead for the big CG.
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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Anna and I met up with friends Pete and Chelsea at Picacho. Cold day with expectes high of 51. Everyone enjoyed the route. Windy up top and didnt hang out long. We got back and skipped the DQ stop. As soon as we hit the highway, it started to rain. We got out just on time.
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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1st hike of the New Year. Did this one family style with my wife, Anna, and our two boys Justin and Chris. We drove out to Picacho Peak and started our hike around 9am. This is probably the toughest hike my wife has ever done. Plan was to allow the boys to continue up to the top while I hang back with her and see how far she can get.

We ended up hiking as a group the entire way. With some positive mindsets, teamwork and moral support we all made it to the summit together. We enjoyed our time up top, eating snacks, taking in the sights and snapping a few photos. Anna knew the fun was not over and it was time to make our way down. Of course, the down, includes a nice long section of "up." Anna pushed through the last climb and soon we were at the saddle. Its all down hill from there. I didn't log a total time, but I believe we finished somewhere around 3.5 hours from when we started.

We rewarded ourselves with some french fries and ice cream at the DQ. Justin a vanilla shake, Chris a blizzard and I went with my DQ favorite, cherry-dipped cone. I hear its a Picacho Peak hikers choice. :D
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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I was reminded by Randy that my State Park Pass was expired. I drove down to Picacho Peak to get a new one. I did the Hunter Trail while I was there. I also took a couple of pictures for Bruce and got an Ice Cream Cone to salute JJ. :y:

Just patchy west side of Hunter Trail. I only saw Poppies
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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Got in one of my favorites on the way home fro the Old Pueblo today. Got up to the trailhead for a 4 p.m. start, there was only one other car in the lot. Made my way up Hunter and then up to the peak, it was hot but figured this was my last chance to get this one in before the real summer hits. Took a good break up too, and then made the chug back down. I also made a side trip onto the Sunset trail to get in the cable section just because it is there. Finished up my hike and made the drive home to Phoenix, with all the rush hour traffic done as I had hoped. The low desert is starting to look pretty brown and tired, we could sure use some rain...Love this hike!
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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Picacho Loop
My first time up Picacho Peak. I expected a challenge, and it was. I had read the trail description so I knew that the Hunter Trail would drop on the back side of the saddle. But I was still surprised at how steeply it dropped and how far. I was glad for the wire rope cables to hold on to, but after a while my hands were pretty tender. Next time definitely bring gloves!

The views from the trail and at the top were awesome! Well worth the very exhausting climb. On the way down I took the Sunset Vista Trail. From the trail junction the Sunset Vista trail starts out quite steep with a couple more cable climbs, and eventually descends into a very pretty saguaro forest around the base of the peak. From the Sunset Vista trail head it's a walk along the road. There is a walking path next to the road.

It was interesting seeing Picacho from nearly all sides. All in all a great hike that I would do again.
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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Early morning hike up Picacho Peak. Camped at the park's campground the night before with my wife. She slept in while I got up before sunrise. The hike up to the saddle was steep but invigorating. Then cables came up, which seemed a bit unnecessary in most places. I was by myself the whole hike up, but then met a nice couple at the summit. It was much busier on the way down. The real excitement was when a took a spill near the trailhead, and my car key in my pocket got bent in the process. Then when I went to start the car, the bent key wouldn't fit the ignition. I had to walk the couple miles back to camp to get the spare key, and then walk another couple miles back to the car. Definitely got some extra exercise.
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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I think I need some time to recoup, then Rick calls Monday night, going to Picacho Peak tomorrow morning, what's a Hiker supposed to do say :sorrry: -- Off we went, it had been about 15 years since LittleMsHiker and I had done this, after we had navigated all the cables and planks that lead us, ( sometimes at a 85 % incline ) to the Peak we finally made it. Didn't meet anyone going up, then at the summit we met Charles a fellow HAZ'er. Lives nearby and uses this a his training ground for various hikes around the Globe, this was his 363rd time up over the last 5 years. :wlift: This hike has it all, great views, great obstacles to overcome, will do it again. Finished the hike at a great little Mexican Cantina in Florence, called L B Cantina.
Hunter Trail - Picacho Peak
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It has been almost a year since I hit Picacho, and today was the day. Pulled into the park about 3:30 after my Tucson jaunt and started heading up. I met a good 30 trailworkers coming down just as I started up, and then only saw a handful of people after that. Good grind up to the saddle without stopping, seems like they have added a switchback or two to the trail on the front side since last I did this...I went over to the northern end of the summit first to have a look around, and then aimed up for the top. Had the summit to myself and took a good break, almost a half an hour. I ran into a hiker right on the way down and ended up chatting with him the whole way back. Good to get some impromptu company! I also ran into 4 older teen/ early 20's guys that were huffing it up the back side, I did my best to let them know they still had a ways to go and light was running out quick, but I am guessing they did not heed my advice. Sun set a few minutes after I got off the trail, took a little break and headed on back to Phoenix. Still traffic in the tunnel even at 7:15... ](*,)

Permit $$
AZ State Parks more info
2018 Day Use Fees range from $2–$30

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Between Phoenix and Tucson on Interstate 10 Exit 219. Follow the signs to Picacho State Park. Pay your dues and take a map.
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
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