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Arizona | Picacho Peak | Hunter Trail

Hunter Trailhead and Picacho Peak at Sunrise
Hunter Trailhead and Picacho Peak at Sunrise

Picacho Peak, located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, is a centerpiece of the vast landscape. Since I started visiting Arizona as a young boy Picacho has been one of my favorite places. Whether hiking around the base, ultimately summiting when I was 11 or 12, and using it as a landmark while hunting it has always symbolized my desert home. Kristin has a similar love for Picacho from her time at the UofA and we were excited to be doing this hike together.

Located about 45 minutes from downtown Tucson and an hour and 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix it is worth the visit, and hike, October through April are the best times to explore Picacho, provided an early morning start on warmer days during the bookend months. A camelback per person, snacks, and solid hiking boots for the summit push are all that's needed for the relatively short, and steep, hike up the Hunter Trail.

The Sunset Vista Trail is a different, and longer option, for those who have already hiked hunter or want to take a "less travelled" approach to summiting Picacho. The first time I ever went to Picacho, probably 8 years old, my dad, dog Shadow, and I did this route up to the saddle.

Kristin and I knew we wanted to start early and got to the State Park before sunrise on a cool February morning to pay the fees, get to the parking lot, and enjoy what was left of our score from the Donut Wheel. As soon as the first rays of sun illuminated the desert we put our packs on and began walking towards the 3,374 foot summit. About thirty minute later we were at the saddle and relaxed for a few minutes before the descent and first set of cables.

This is where the hike really begins, shortly after reaching the base of the cables the Hunter and Sunset Vista trails converge. From there it's a bit more of desert walking before reaching the start of the cables. With a few sections this portion of the hike to the summit takes another twenty to thirty minutes and requires focus due to the steep conditions.

An hour after leaving the parking lot we found ourselves on the summit where we enjoyed beautiful 360 degree views all to ourselves as we were the first ones to reach Picacho Peak. We relaxed for ten to fifteen minutes before another hiker arrived and we began the return journey.

Needless to say, we were famished on the drive back to Tucson and since Kristin LOVES diners we searched for options nearby. The Marana Feedlot Cafe at the Marana Stockyards popped up and we decided that was a clear winner. Thank God we stumbled upon this place as it was everything we could have hoped for and more. Great food, friendly service, with true cowboys and cowgirls enjoying the grub as well.

Hiker at the Saddle of Picacho Peak
Kristin at the Saddle of Picacho Peak
Picacho Peak Saddle Views
Saddle Views
Hunter Trail and I-10
Looking Back Down the Trail
Battle of Picacho Pass Plaque 1862 Civil War
Reading About the 1862 Battle of Picacho Pass
Hunter and Sunset Vista Trails Converging on Picacho Peak
Hunter and Sunset Vista Trails Converging
Kristin Crushing Cables Before the Steepest Section of Picacho Peak
Kristin Crushing Cables Before the Steepest Section

South Vies near the Summit of Picacho Peak
South Views near the Summit of Picacho Peak
Green Sonoran Desert
Yes, the Sonoran Desert is Green
All Smiles on Picacho Peak
All Smiles on Picacho Peak
Bottom of Hunter Trail Picacho Peak
Strolling Along at the End of Hunter Trail
Touching Grass Base Picacho Peak
Go Touch the Grass
Marana Feedlot Cafe
Marana Feedlot Cafe
Marana Feedlot Cafe Steak Breakfast
Arguably the Freshest Steak West of Texas


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