Safford Peak (Sombrero), AZ | HikeArizona
 This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Preferred" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Safford Peak (Sombrero), AZ

Guide 161 Triplogs Mine 0 0 Topics
3.6 of 5 
no permit
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,196 feet
Elevation Gain 1,360 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,637 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.19
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
unreported if dogs are allowed
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10  2022-11-09
The Cat in the Hat
10  2022-01-02 Jim_H
2  2021-01-15 azdesertfather
15  2019-01-07
Panther Peak Loop
12  2018-12-27
Safford Peak
3  2017-07-26 fricknaley
18  2017-01-07 Pivo
8  2016-11-13 HandsomeRob
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author avatar Guides 93
Routes 396
Photos 4,188
Trips 3,498 map ( 22,737 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Associated Areas
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Tucson Region
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Preferred Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:55am - 6:21pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
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gaze off into the foothills
by fricknaley

 Likely In-Season!
Safford Peak as it is officially known (Sombrero Peak to us Tucson locals) is that distinctive bell-shaped peak in the northern-most district of the Tucson Mountains in Saguaro West National Park. No doubt you've seen it when passing through northern Tucson. I see it every day because I live right beneath it and I always consider myself lucky as I look at it driving home. As it turns out, it is also an absolute blast to climb.
There is no official trail here but there is pretty much something to follow the whole way. Nonetheless decent route finding skills will come in handy. There are multiple ways to get to the trail that begins the ascent to the peak. I will describe from a quiet little chapel called Sanctuary Cove as this is the easiest to find. There are numerous miles of foot trails and horse trails in the basin surrounding the peak, and you could add any distance you want to get to the trail that starts the climb.

Hike the easy-to-follow NPS trail from the end of Scenic Drive at the Sanctuary. It goes up to a small saddle then descends quickly. Within about 1/2 mile a clear trail breaks off and heads directly west for the east face of the peak. This is the start of the climb. Immediately the trail starts to climb and wind its way up. The path is rocky and the footing is loose, so watch your step.

I counted three saddles that you will ascend in relatively short order as you climb east and slightly north up the peak. At each saddle take a left at the fork in the trail. I placed cairns at each intersection, so hopefully, that will help. As you climb the views open up fast. After the 2nd saddle, you will realize that you are heading towards the northern face of the peak and that this face is purely vertical. Panther Peak will pop up and make itself known as well. As you reach the 3rd small saddle the vertical north face will be in front of and to the left of you. This is where you will take your third consecutive left (hopefully will still be cairned).

Look for little faint paths heading up and to your left, for the key is to now head south to get to the accessible east face of the peak. Whichever faint path you take, it does not matter as long as you are climbing and heading south they kind of all seem to merge again shortly. After you have worked your way back to the west then the southwest face of the peak, the trail picks up again and becomes easy to follow. It winds and climbs around the southern then southeastern flank of the peak. The views are now excellent as you gaze off into the foothills and higher peaks of the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park...very nice.

Ultimately, the trail will start to climb severely and make the push to the summit via an eastern approach. The trail is very faint here, but I was still able to follow it easily enough. By now you can see where you are going anyway. The last stretch is pure rock climbing, with some narrow traverses with significant exposure. If you don't like exposed heights, I would not recommend this hike. The summit offers great views in all directions. There is a register as well. Follow back the way you came, the best you can anyhow.

Please do not attempt this hike in the summer, as it is purely exposed the whole way. Also if you don't like heights (especially with exposure) you might not like this one. Otherwise, have fun, this hike is really cool and pretty challenging for the distance.

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2006-01-31 fricknaley
  • sub-region related
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 $$

Paved - Car Okay

To Scenic Drive Turnaround Trailhead
From I-10 take Cortaro Rd. west (exit 246). Turn right`(north) on Silverbell roughly 1 mile. Turn left on Coachline (at light) go approx. 0.3 miles. Turn right on Pima Farms go approx 1 mile. Turn left on Scenic, this dirt road takes you 0.25 miles to the parking lot (Sanctuary Cove) on your right. (best keep reading...)

2012-02-12 Caretakers sanctuary cove write: Sanctuary Cove parking lot is for guests visiting the chapel and grounds. Parking for the peak is down Scenic Drive in the turnaround space. Any cars with guests hiking off the property will be impounded.

2012-06-24 anonymous writes: Greetings! Sanctuary Cove is no longer the parking area for the Safford Peak hike. There is a turn out on the right side of the road a short distance before the entrance to the Cove. This is where to park now. If you park at the Cove you risk having your vehicle locked in if you are not back by the time the gates are locked - which is at sundown. However, there is a short hike at the Cove where you are welcome to park your car for that one.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 1 h 35 min (102 miles)
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 22 min (13.3 miles)
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 3 h 37 min (250 miles)

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