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Panther Peak Loop, AZ
mini location map2019-01-07
15 by photographer avatarmarkthurman53
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Panther Peak Loop, AZ 
Panther Peak Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 07 2019
markthurman53
Hiking10.08 Miles 2,489 AEG
Hiking10.08 Miles   5 Hrs   56 Mns   2.26 mph
2,489 ft AEG   1 Hour   28 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
Since I didn't get to Panther Peak on my Safford Peak hike the other week I decided to do that today. I started out at the scenic road trail head and took the Pack Rat, Passe Trail and Scenic trail to the Safford Peak Trail because I've never been on them and I was trying to make this hike in the 10 mile range. Took the Safford Peak Trail to the saddle where I continued north on a trail that would lead to the north approach to Panther Peak. Once on Panther Peak I descended down the south side to Panther Wash and returned making a loop to the west and north of Panther Peak. Once at the junction with the north approach route to Panther peak I returned kind of the same route I took in.

The Pack Rat and Passe Trails are not trails you would put on your list of trails to do, these are more of walks for people who live in the area that do a daily routine of walking. The Scenic Trail is the trail used if you are heading to Safford Peak. Took the Safford Peak Trail up to a saddle where I continued north on the trail while the Safford Peak Trail continues west going up. I'm not sure what this north bound trail is called but it follows along a ridge that overlooks Sanctuary Cove to the northeast. From the saddle the trail becomes a route down the west side of the ridge to the Saguaro National Park fence and gate. At this point there is a well defined trail, North (private Property) leads to the white stallion Ranch (I believe) and to the west along the Park boundary. This route down the west side of the ridge looks like it use to be a trail but has since been decommissioned, watch closely and you can follow the old trail, very faint and occasionally marked by cairns. Once at the gate, follow the well defined trail to the junction with the North approach route to Panther Peak. There is a Rock Cairn at this location but having a GPS route will aid in locating this junction.

The hike up the north approach to Panther was easier than I thought though it is steep and involves hand and foot climbing in a few places. The route was well marked with cairns and easy to follow, I'm sure that is what made the difference between this being a very difficult route to just a really good workout. Once at the saddle the climb to Panther peak is along a well defined route, still steep but no scrambling is required. Great views from the peak, I think better than Safford Peak. The recent storm left the air clean and made for great views.

On the return I headed down the south slope to Panther Wash, This route is not as steep as the north approach but it is not as clearly marked. A GPS route is handy. Lots of loose rock so the going was slow. Really can't decide weather I would prefer the north or south approach to Panther Peak, I keep vacillating as to which I would rather do. Once in Panther Wash I headed up stream to make the loop around Panther Peak and back to the where the north approach route heads up to Panther Peak. Can't find a name for this trail so I just called it the Panther Peak Loop. About a third of this trail is in Panther Wash and about a third along what looks like it use to be a road but is now just a wide trail. The last third where the trail heads east is along a well defined trail eventually ending up at the gate to White Stallion Ranch where I was earlier in the day.

Great hike with some Ho Hum parts, some really great sections with either a good work out or exceptional views and a section of just walking to get you from point A to Point B. This hike turned out to be 10.1 miles but probably would have only been 9.9 had I not forgot my cover (hat for you civilians) about .1 miles in and returned to get it.

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