Climbing Picacho Peak….

I’ve driven past this landmark on the way to and from Tucson innumerable times over the last two and a half decades…finally climbed to the top….kinda cool.

Tried to get there at sunrise to see the grand walls adorned with the fresh morning’s light….

Picacho Peak from Toltec Road Overpass

Parked outside the gate to Picacho Peak State Park…in the below image.  For anyone who enjoys the Wikipedia take on things, here’s another link…which addresses the redundancy of the name.  “Picacho” means “peak” in Spanish….so this is Peak Peak State Park….

Picacho Peak sunrise from the state park's entrance gate

The trail is going to take us up to the uppermost point on the prominence to the left…the eastern summit.

Hunter trail-head, start of the journey

Hunter Trail goes in a zig-zag switchback manner up the front of the slope in the above image, reaches the saddle at the notch on the right, and then drops down over 200 feet and then skirts along the south side heading east, and finally climbs up and up and up…..

Approaching the saddle of Picacho Peak, looking southeast from the north side

The above photo shows the view looking north and south from the front of the slope in the image just above it….and the photo below shows the saddle…looking east.  And yes, that is the “peak”….the destination…at the far left side of the image.

Picacho east summit and saddle viewed from west end of the saddle

Hmmm….lovely defacing of the placard…the peak is believed to be about 22 million years old….

Placard at saddle of Picacho Peak

Looking north and west from the saddle in the below image….a crumpled-blanket-looking-desert….

Looking southwest from the saddle on Picacho Peak

And now heading down from the saddle (below) with the double steel cable hand-rails…going waaaaay down the steep slope.

Double cable handrails heading down from the saddle on Picacho Peak

Looking directly south from the above slope…out over the irrigated desert’s fields….

Looking south at desert fields and desert hills

In the below image, we have made it safely down that severe slope and have headed east along the south side of the mount…climbed up a bit, and have arrived at something like an arena or amphitheater in the rock’s backside….

South side arena of Picacho Peak

Saguaro cacti, Palo Verde trees/shrubs, and Creosote/Grease-wood bushes….  The below photo is what is inside of the shadows in the right side of the above photo…

Inside the shadows of arena on south side of Picacho Peak

A singular cross on Golgotha….?

Western wall of arena on south side of Picacho Peak

Another incredibly steep climb upward with the double cable hand-rails….nearing the top….

Double cable handrails approaching summit plane of Picacho Peak

My only company on the summit….

Picacho Peak summit wildlife

In the below image, we’re looking north and west from the top….fascinating green veins where the water runs in its season…

Looking northwest from Picacho Peak summit

And looking north and east from the summit, in the below image, over the irrigated fields…over the freeway heading toward Tucson to the right…and over Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch…in that white hangar-like structure…toward left of center…

Looking northeast from Picacho Peak summit

Looking west from the east and highest summit…over the western summit….

Looking due west from Picacho Peak summit

And now looking further west from that western summit….

Picacho Peak lower range viewed from western summit

In the below image, the eastern summit proper…the Picacho Peak….viewed from the slope of the western summit.

Picacho Peak summit proper

Looking up at the “trail” we just descended…heading down on the Sunset Vista Trail…which loops back around the Picacho Peak massif, heading west….

Looking back up at double cable handrails on Sunset Vista trail coming down from summit

The southern side of the mount just west of Picacho Peak massif, from the Sunset Vista Trail….

Desert mountain range west of Picacho Peak massif

And the western end of the massif…looking east….with Picacho Peak proper being around and behind….to the far right.

Picacho Peak massif viewed from the west on Sunset Vista trail

So, now we’ve seen Picacho Peak up close and personal…which will change how we “see” it from this day forward.

I hope you enjoyed the hike…thank you for coming along with me….

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40 responses

  1. Mike Hohmann

    Great hike, Scott; and fantastic photos. I’ll remember this hike next time I’m in Tucson! Thanks for sharing.

    December 7, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    • Thanks, Mike….let us know how you enjoy “your” hike up there!.

      December 11, 2016 at 3:19 pm

  2. I did enjoy the hike with you and see what it was like. I’ve driven past it dozens of times but never climbed it.

    December 7, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Terry. I thought you would have been familiar with it….

      December 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm

  3. Very nice hike and documentation of same . . . and, no . . . there would have been three.

    I looked up the hike. 1,400 ft elevation change and 1,880 ft accumulated gain. Again, nice.

    Here’s the link for anyone who is interested.

    December 7, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    • Hmm . . . the link did not show up. Let me try again:

      https://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=65

      December 7, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    • Thank you, Emilio…and there would have been three what…links? Yes, I was familiar with the one you provided, as well…read it before heading down that way….thanks for adding it. 🙂

      December 11, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      • . . . Golgotha would have had three crosses on it . . .

        December 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm

        • Yes, it would have, of course…which is why I noted the “singular” saguaro up there…. I see silhouettes of single or multiple saguaros on hilltops and ridges out here and they always seem to remind me of crosses up there…not a voluntary thing, mind you…just happens…anyway….yes, it would need to be three….

          December 11, 2016 at 3:54 pm

  4. Scott great photos and I know about where you’re talking about because I use to drive up there almost every other weekend when I lived in Phoenix. Awesome drive. Thanks for sharing, brings back good memories. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

    December 8, 2016 at 1:27 am

    • Yep, I’m sure you’re familiar with it, Kat…unmistakable landmark feature. Wishing you the best for the holidays, as well….thank you. 🙂

      December 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      • I’m hanging in there my friend got a new companion who makes me very happy I’m still missing Carl and he understands this but it is nice to share things again and have someone to lean on and share the little things.

        December 14, 2016 at 1:18 pm

  5. I’m sitting with lights on having breakfast in a very dark, foggy Scotland….. dreich they call it here, and I’ve been transported up a sunny mountain half a world away…..wonderful Scott, and thanks for the trip.

    December 8, 2016 at 2:21 am

    • You’re most welcome, John…glad I could brighten your day. By the way, your word, “dreich,” has a German look and sound to it…rather strange coming from the Isles…..

      December 11, 2016 at 3:31 pm

  6. If you visit the park in the spring, you will be amazed at the abundance of wildflowers that will be there. Lots of poppies if it is a wet winter, plus so many others!

    December 8, 2016 at 5:58 am

    • I remember your photos from there, Tamara…maybe I’ll get back there with a different focus next time….

      December 11, 2016 at 3:33 pm

  7. Nice to see you’re keeping in shape. That HAD to be a pretty challenging climb, but looks like it was worth the view.

    December 8, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    • Not hiking near as much as in years passed, but I’m still doing okay on the trails. And yes, it was definitely worth the view. Thanks, Gunta. 🙂

      December 11, 2016 at 3:35 pm

  8. An interesting peek at Peak Peak State Park! What an amazing place – the view from the road is fantastic. As Gunta said – a pretty challenging climb, but immensely satisfying I would imagine. I was struck by the very regular square irrigated fields below, and also the rails on the incredibly steep part.

    December 9, 2016 at 2:39 am

    • It was a very satisfying hike, Meanderer….I was hoping it would have been longer, but the views from above were great…and yes, those squares of irrigated fields were quite interesting…as were the cables. I had never encountered them before…kind of daunting…a warning of what was coming our way!

      January 5, 2017 at 8:38 pm

  9. Phenomenal shots, spectacular views! I love hiking with you.

    December 9, 2016 at 10:20 am

    • Thank you, Susan…and I’m so glad that you always join me!

      January 5, 2017 at 8:38 pm

  10. Yes, I enjoyed, but I’m panting…seriously, thank you. You always can be counted on for clarity – I feel like I know where and what this place is. It’s fun to see the varied topography from up high, and all the flora. (Was that a Rock wren?)

    December 10, 2016 at 11:01 am

    • You’re very welcome, Lynn….and it would be a rather familiar spot if you’ve driven the stretch between Tucson and Phoenix…actually, if you’ve just headed north out of Tucson for about 40-50 miles….can’t miss it.

      The bird…? I’m not sure, really…I can identify a cactus wren, road-runner, quail, red-tailed hawk, crow, magpie, and the occasional cardinal or humming-bird, but i’m not good with much else down here….unfortunately…. 😉

      January 5, 2017 at 8:42 pm

  11. Wow, that’s quite a climb! But what views! I’m guessing it was worth every step.

    December 11, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    • It wasn’t an “easy” hike, Allen…but it would have been worth it even if it was harder.

      January 5, 2017 at 8:43 pm

  12. Quite a tough climb in places and judging by the panoramas well worth the effort. What’s the altitude gain, Scott?

    December 12, 2016 at 11:26 am

    • It was quite rewarding, Andy…and I think our friend, Disperser/Emilio, in the comments above, gave us the numbers…an actual elevation gain of 1,400 ft, but because of the repeated ups and downs, the total or accumulated gain was about 1,880 ft…. It didn’t really compare to the 4,400 ft gain with one of my favorite trails in Utah, but it was nice for what it was…. 😉

      January 5, 2017 at 8:47 pm

  13. Amazing pictures Scott! Quite a climb!
    Oops pressed the wrong button and momentarily stopped following you Scott! Sorry about that. :-/

    December 13, 2016 at 4:58 am

    • Thank you, Adrian…it was quite a climb. 🙂

      And don’t stop following….we’ve been into this thing together for too long to give up on me now…!

      January 5, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      • I’m certainly not going to stop following you Scott. As you say, we’ve been into this thing far too long to give up now! 🙂

        January 9, 2017 at 5:20 am

  14. Wonderful view looks like quite a steep hike too 🙂

    December 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    • It was a nice little test, Captain….and it prompted a four-day reminder of what our knees actually do for us…!

      January 5, 2017 at 8:50 pm

  15. LB

    Incredible! What a journey, and I thank you for sharing those views, and those very steep climbs and descents.

    January 1, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, LB….thank you for joining me. 🙂

      January 5, 2017 at 8:51 pm

  16. RMW

    Beautiful area

    January 8, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    • Yes, it is, RMW…from certain vantage points. 😉

      January 22, 2017 at 7:39 am

  17. Vivienne

    How I love Arizona, and love seeing your latest pictures. I don’t always comment, but enjoy all your pictures. I am reserved into the Maswik lodge next September, I hope I make it and do not have to cancel.

    January 11, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    • Thank you, Vivienne….I hope you make it out here and that you enjoy your visit this coming Fall.

      January 22, 2017 at 7:40 am

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