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Sweetwater Trail, AZ

Guide 75 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.6 of 5 
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,800 feet
Elevation Gain 1,887 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4
Kokopelli Seeds 18.64
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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15  2017-09-01
Sweetwater Mines 'n' Such
14  2017-08-30
SNP West Sweetwater Sendero Esperanza Loop
6  2014-11-02 Jim_H
10  2014-09-17
King Canyon to Wasson Peak
5  2013-12-25
Wasson Peak - Sweetwater Trail
6  2013-11-10
Wasson Peak - Sweetwater Trail
23  2013-04-15
Wasson Peak via King Canyon
5  2013-02-24 azbackpackr
Page 1,  2
Author bigracket1
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 120
Trips 31 map ( 256 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:17pm
Official Route
8 Alternative

The top of the Tucson Mountains
by bigracket1

This trail is the eastern access point to Wasson Peak, the highest point in the Tucson Mountains, the range to the west of Tucson. It is also located entirely within Saguaro National Park West. If you're looking for a shaded hike with water sources on the trail, look elsewhere. If you want to bag a peak and don't mind desert scenery, abundant sun, and elevation changes, this hike may be for you.

The trail begins at a Pima county trailhead with room for several cars and two horse rigs just outside the park. The peak is right in front of you as you begin, but because of mines, private property access problems, and difficult terrain, you must go around and summit from the other side. Immediately you pass a useful park map, and the trail register a few minutes later. The flowers were in bloom, but otherwise, nothing of note for the first three miles of the trail. A couple of times, you'll descend into a wash and come back up, and rock stairs are meticulously planted on the downslopes. After about 2.5 miles, the trail follows the bottom of a rocky but vegetated ridge, with a wash nearby below that looks like it would be easier than the trail to walk in.

At the 3.4 mile mark, you reach Sweetwater Saddle, where the trails from the west side of the park meet the Sweetwater trail. From here, all the trails share the same route to the summit. Following the signs to Wasson Peak, you'll head north up some steep switchbacks for 0.9 miles. In fact, these are the steepest of the entire climb. The last stretch (only three tenths of a mile to the peak) seems positively easy in comparison.

When you get to the summit, you'll have the expansive views you were expecting. To the north, you'll see some jeep roads, and the Picture Rocks, apparently named for the pictographs found within. To the west lies Avra Valley. To the east, you'll find the Santa Catalinas and Pusch Ridge. And to the south, a fine set of radio towers on a big hill, and bigger hills beyond.

A sign at the trailhead warned of potentially rabid foxes and rats in the area, which are to be avoided. If you're looking, you can find large pack rat nests in the washes. If they don't get you, the sun will. This hike could conceivably be done in the summer if you've built up immunity to heat exhaustion (bring a gallon of water), but there is absolutely no shade on the trail, so I don't recommend it. In fact, my tender white skin turned red in very little time.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2004-05-01 bigracket1
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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.

Permit $$

Saguaro National Park
2019 $20 vehicle, $15 motorcycle or $10 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees

Effective January 1, 2020 entrance fees to the park will be $25 per vehicle, $20 per motorcycle, $15 for individual pedestrian or bicycle, and an annual park pass will cost $45.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Sweetwater Trailhead
In Tucson take I-10 to exit 252 (El Camino del Cerro/Ruthrauff) between Marana and Tucson. Head west on El Camino del Cerro six miles and do not deviate from the roadway until you reach the trailhead. The entire route is paved. No visitors' center on this side. Trailhead closes at 9pm unless a permit is obtained.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 111 mi - about 1 hour 52 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 9.5 mi - about 19 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 255 mi - about 4 hours 6 mins
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