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.