The Stats: Trail Name: Picacho Peak via Hunter Trail Location: Picacho, AZ Distance: 2.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,958 feet Published Difficulty: Difficult Dog Friendliness: Not friendly at all. Leave the pups behind
About the trail:
Picacho Peak via Hunter trail is one of the more incredible trails in Arizona. One of those that brings a huge sense of accomplishment to your smiling, exhausted face once you reach the top. It also qualifies as a full body workout, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Picacho Peak is located about an hour and a half outside of Phoenix – or 45 minutes from Tucson if you’re coming from that direction. You’ll get to Picacho Peak State Park, pay your $7 vehicle entry fee and park closest to the trailhead you intend to take to reach the peak. Hunter Trail is the route featured here. Sunset Trail, which is considered the easier of the 2 despite being about a mile longer, is the other potential option.
Hunter Trail to Picacho Peak
Hunter Trail starts off with a steep ascent from the get-go, continuing up switchbacks until you reach the saddle. The view along the way is eye-popping beautiful. If that’s a thing. From the saddle, you’ll begin a roughly 230 foot descent using cables as you step down strategically placed railroad ties. The next notable point in the hike comes at the intersection where Hunter and Sunset trails merge. The trails are combined until you reach the peak. The convergence is where the real fun begins.
Shortly after the trail intersection, you’ll reach a point where you hoist yourself up a steep grade using the cables provided. Gloves are recommended, but it’s definitely manageable without. You will continue to climb until you reach a mountainside plank-walk. The last portion of the trail is a short climb to the peak, where you will feel absolutely astonished by the sweeping 360 views of the desert below.
I think my friend Lou said it best: “This was a climb, not a hike.” And I loved every second of it. Okay, maybe not every second.