Monday, January 19, 2015

Picacho Peak Tucson, Arizona January 17, 2015

                     On the backside of Picacho Peak near the cables

Directions: Picacho Peak is located directly off of Interstate 10 about 24 miles west of Tucson, Arizona. If you are traveling west from Tucson to Phoenix on Interstate 10 travelers cannot miss it on the left side of the road. This peak is not the tallest of the peaks in the location but it is by itself so climbers are rewarded with a 360 degree view. Because the peak is on a state park it cost $7 for a day pass.

Trail Description: Round trip to the summit on the Hunter Trail is about 4 miles with 1800 feet of elevation gain. The first part the trail ascends about 960 feet by a series of switchbacks to a saddle. The tricky part of this section is their are many loose rocks and footing can be treacherous.  In the afternoon this section also gets intense sunlight making it much hotter. After the saddle the fun begins. This part of the trail would not be possible if it were not for boy scouts who built cables in sections to aid hikers. After leaving the saddle, the trail descends precipitously about 400 feet to go around a steep section of rock. From here the trail is easy to follow but there are four sections that  require scrambling. One of which requires visitors to use strength to pull themselves up. A second one is almost a vertical section of rock for a short distance. In these sections there are many foot and hand holds so the climbing is not too technical but it does require confidence. Because the peak is relatively isolated in relation to other mountains the view from the top is great in all directions. Highlights include Casa Grande to the west, the Catalina Mountains to the east and Kitt Peak to the south.

Special Considerations: This is a winter hike because summer temperatures can be well over 100 degrees. Visitors have died in the park because they get lost and do not have enough water. However, daytime temperatures can be warm in southern Arizona at all times of the year even the winter. Please bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Finally, the hike might be short but it is intense. Do not attempt this peak if you are not in good shape.

                            Steep descent from the saddle

                                 Me on top looking west

                  Looking east from the summit; Interstate 10 is on the lower left part of the photo

                             One of the smaller summits

                            The rocky trail

Phoneline Trail and Sabino Creek Loop Sabino Canyon, Arizona January 11, 2015

                   Foothills of the Catalina Mountains

Directions: From the University of Arizona campus take Campbell Avenue to Skyline Road. Turn right and follow this road all the way to Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left and then an immediate right.

Around 2 pm after volunteering at Pima Air and Space I arrived at Sabino Canyon for an afternoon hike. After our cold snap over the New Year the weather has been gorgeous every day I chose one of my favorite short hikes in Tucson. It is a 3.5 mile loop connecting Phoneline and Sabino Creek trails. This hike truly has it all with great views and a desert riparian area. Along Sabino Creek I had the added bonus of seeing the cottonwoods with fall foliage. I was surprised and some of these trees made for great photos. For a more detailed description please see my December 2013 post.

                             Rocky Phoneline Trail

                   Cottonwood with fall color

                     Nice light with dark clouds over the Catalina Mountains near Sabino Dam

                            Looking south from Phoneline Trail