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Sunset Vista Trail - Picacho Peak
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mini location map2021-03-04
15 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Sunset Vista Trail - Picacho PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking5.56 Miles 1,395 AEG
Hiking5.56 Miles   2 Hrs   28 Mns   2.25 mph
1,395 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After leaving Phoenix at 6:00 a.m., to avoid the worst rush hour traffic, we stopped for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Casa Grande. It would do while waiting for sunrise.

There was another couple at the trailhead when I got there, so I let them get ahead of me while I occupied myself reading the Juan Bautista de Anza historical signs. I lack the shamelessness others do about waving their camera around in front of other people. 😊

Picacho Peak trails are normally quite crowded — especially Hunter Trail — but I started hiking at 9:00 a.m. and did not see anyone else until Sunset Vista Trail intersected Hunter Trail halfway up the mountain. Thursday must be a good day

The stairs nearest the trailhead looked relatively new, and wood, but some are stone or older, even falling apart.

Normally, the first week of March is Picacho Peak State Park’s peak flower season. The park’s last flower update was two weeks prior, and all they were reporting was scattered Mexican gold poppy. I was hoping a few weeks of increasing temperatures had brought out some lupine, or desert chicory, but no such luck. The flowerpr0n was distinctly G Rated: All I saw were a few scattered ocotillo blooms. 😕

At the two mile mark, Sunset Vista Trail crosses a wider, more gravelly, wash marked by three cairns. A number of larger palo verde provide wispy shade. The casual stroll is done: The climb begins.

As Sunset Vista Trail is on the west and south side of Picacho Peak, there is little shade, especially in the first two miles. The only good shade is provided by a large boulder 2.2 miles into the hike.

The Sunset Vista Trail cables start at the 2.5 mile mark. At first it seemed as if they would be no big deal, but I was soon disabused of that notion: I saw this: [ photo ] .

How the hell was I going to get up it? I took a few minutes to plot my route: Left foot in that crease, right foot on that pole, etc. to the top. Getting up is always the easy part: I also had to consider how to get back down. It wasn’t far, but it was steep, and falling would suck. I put a bottle of water in my front pocket (so it wouldn’t fall out) and dropped my pack, so my center of gravity would be more forward.

I seem to recall making it up a second cabled section before Sunset Vista Trail intersected Hunter Trail. Fifty yards past that was another vertical cable section, this time with side netting … in case you fall. I looked at it. Looked at my GPS. Looked at it again. At that point it was 500 ft. in only a ¼ mile to the summit. My main goal in hiking is exercise. I had done that. So, I bailed. ↩️

I went forward, but scootching back down the first Sunset Vista Trail cable section, so I could see where I was going and not have to feel with my feet for footholds. I actually wrapped my arm around the cable, using it as a brake, which is why the next few days it was my lats that were sore — and, for some reason, my abdominals? — rather than calves.

After I met back up with my wife at Sunset Vista Trailhead, we headed across I-10 to the Dairy Queen. From what I gather, it is tradition to have a cherry-dipped cone after hiking Picacho Peak. I forgot to stop at the Battle of Picacho Peak memorial. 🪦

At the DQ, over lunch, rather than talk about my hike, I mostly listened to my wife talk about her visit to the nearby Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. Besides ostriches, they have rabbits, sheep, goats, cownose stingrays, and even some sort of parrot called a “lorikeet” — all of which you can feed. She’s wanted to see the ostriches for years, so she was happy. And a happy wife is a Very Good Thing.

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/520583188
 Flora
 Flora [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Ocotillo
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Picacho Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Just a couple of ocotillo during what is usually the peak flower season in this area.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
 
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