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Picacho Peak State Park

Summary: A few nice hikes in a desert setting to the top of an ancient lava flow.
Directions: Picacho Peak is located just west of I-10 about 60 miles south of Phoenix (40 miles north of Tuscon). From Phoenix drive south on I-10. Take exit 219 and follow the brown signs to the park entrance. There is an entry fee of $6 per car load (as of this writing). Pick up a map from the ranger when you pay.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car (paved all the way)
Navigation: Easy
Length: Sunset Vista Trail: 6.2 miles round trip (3.1 each way)
Hunter Trail: 2.0 miles one way (4.0 round trip)
Calloway Trail: 0.7 miles one way (1.4 round trip)
Nature Trail: 0.5 miles (total)
Date Hiked: April 2003
Weather Conditions: Hot & sunny
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: Sunset Vista Trail: The trail begins at the Sunset Vista Trailhead at the north end of the park. The path climbs moderately at first as it winds its way west, then becomes quite flat for the first 2 miles as it heads across the bajada on the west side of the range. As it nears the peak, it begins climbing steeply up a series of switchbacks, then more steeply still as you climb a few sections rigged with cables. At the top of the first steep cable, you will reach the junction with the left branching Hunter Trail. Stay right at this junction and continue climbing. There are several sections with cables along this route, it might help to have gloves since some of the cables are a bit thin & hard on the hands. Follow the trail to the summit which has some good views in all directions. When ready return the way you came.
Hunter Trail: This is the more popular way to the summit. From the trail head on the Barrett Loop, begin climbing the steep, rocky path as it heads up the slope towards the peak above. Eventually it climbs up to the base of a prominent basalt cliff, then bends right and follows the cliff face to a saddle with a few interpretive signs. From the saddle, the trail descends steeply west besides another escarpment (this section is lined with cables the entire way). At the base of the escarpment, the path bends left and shortly joins the Sunset Vista Trail. Stay straight at this junction and begin the steep climb up the cables to the summit.
Calloway Trail: This is a short hike up a moderate slope to an overlook at the base of the peak. It only takes about half an hour to hike from the Hunter Trail Head, but the only view is of I-10.
Nature Trail: A short loop hike with interpretive signs along the way. An easy and fun stroll. You can pick up this trail from the parking area in the Electric Campground or down the road across from the Ranger Station.
Rating (1-5 stars):
I've driven by the peak probably 100 times since moving to AZ and figured I'd finally stop in and check it out. I'm glad I did. The hikes are nice and steep enough to feel like you've gotten a work out. The views are good too. The highlight of the trip was spotting 4 chuckwallas scrambling around near the summit.
Maps: Pick one up at the Rangers Station when you pay your entry fee.
Books: None
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.

The Sunset Trail with the peak
in the background

Cables along the
Sunset Trail.

Looking down the ridge
from Picacho Peak.