Hike | Picacho Peak | Pichacho
Take in some magnificent views of the Tucson area with this challenging but worthy hike!
- Distance: 4 Miles RT
- Type of Trail: Out and back
- Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
- Elevation: 3,374 feet
- Kid Friendly: Varies (See tips below)
- Dog-Friendly: No
- Fee/Permit: $7/per vehicle (1-4 adults); $3 per additional person or bicyclist
Picacho Peak is a premiere destination for anyone traveling down I-10. With a unique look and massive size, its presence is hard to ignore. Whether you are coming from the Phoenix or Tucson area, there is clear signage directing to the Park's entrance making for easy navigation.
The park is well-maintained with wonderful staff present to answer questions and provide insightful information prior to beginning your journey. In addition to the trails, the grounds contain a number of picnic areas, a playground, a handful of camping sites and clean bathrooms. So even if decide not to do a hike or want to tackle a smaller trail with kids, you can enjoy the view of Picacho Peak while grilling burgers or swinging on the swings.
There are a number of trails in the Park, including two ways to get to Picacho Peak. The most common one is Hunter 's Trail. It's a 4 mile out and back trail that takes you straight up to the Peak. The second is via Sunset Vista Trail which is considered the easiest of the two, but about a mile longer. At the head of Hunter's Trail there is a water spout, additional trail information, and a picnic area. From the very beginning Hunter's Trail ascends up, but the trail is well maintained with plenty of signage to help keep you on the right path. Even from the bottom of the trail the sight of Picacho Peak and surrounding landscape is breathtaking, and during this time wildflowers were blooming.
Leading up to the mountain you ascend up a couple hundred feet via switchbacks before you reach the saddle. Take a moment to rest and enjoy the views before descending down about 230 feet. Though cables are present during the switchback portion of the hike the descend down is when the cables are truly introduced into the hike. The trail will go along the side of the Peak and will come to a trail intersection with Sunset Vista Trail. Soon from this point the ascend up begins again, this time using the cables! Gloves are recommended, but not required. Don't let the idea of using cables to climb up steer you away - it's very doable and manageable. The cables are well maintained and sturdy.
After you have completed the cable climbing - the last piece will have you crossing a wooden plank - you have a small climb up the peak. From the top you will be greeting with a jaw dropping 360 view. Rest up, pull out your snacks and enjoy. There are tons of wildlife critters in this area to keep you company! Once you have enjoyed the peak, make your way down the same way you came. Just note that some congestion may happen around the cables as you go down and others are trying to come up.
Located off I-10 through exit 219. The peak is prominent in the horizon with plenty of signage directing to the location; hard to miss.
- Upon entering the Park, you will receive a park map from a ranger. However, it is also available online and highly encouraged to review it before heading down.
- Gloves are recommended when dealing with the cables, but not required.
- Picacho Peak State Park has signage that states no children under 10 for Hunter's Trail, but I did see some children on the trail. Parents and guardians, please use your best judgment.
- There is a decent amount of parking, but by 10 a.m. the lot got pretty full. Get there early not only to get a close parking spot, but also to beat the Arizona sun.
- The trail has limited shade and ascends up quickly at times, bring plenty of water, snacks, and proper sun protection.
* Please remember to hike at your own risk. To learn more please refer to our Hiking Disclaimer.