High on a Mountain Top: Picacho Peak

High on a mountain top
We live, we love, and we laugh a lot
Folks up here know what they got
High on a mountain top
High on a mountain top
Where the rest of the world’s
Like a little bitty spot
I ain’t comin down no never I’m not
High on a mountain top
High on a mountain top
Loretta Lynn

On a Wednesday night, Carolyn and I decided that we could head to Tucson Thursday afternoon as soon as I got off work and we would hike Picacho Peak. I can’t count the number times I have driven by the state park without ever stopping. That was about to change. We found a room available at my Hilton team member rate and with both of us having the day off, it was a no brainer. Book the room and go.

We got on the road around 2 pm and as I was driving Carolyn was researching the trail to the top and I started to get some anxious feelings. Sounded like we would be in for a difficult climb with some difficult points. We arrived at Picacho State Park paid our fees and started hiking around 3:30 on Hunter Trail. The state park website describes Hunter Trail: 2.0 miles; difficult; begins on the north side from Barrett Loop and goes to the top of the peak. The trail climbs a resistant path typical of the Sonoran desert. The route is steep and twisting, with steel cables (gloves are recommended) anchored into the rock in places where the surface is bare.

The trail is something special. Looking and seeing how far you climb and your car getting further and further away is an awesome experience. It is advertised as two miles each way and I tried to keep track on my Nike Running App but it kept stopping because the App didn’t think I was moving. In other words I literally went at a snail’s pace on some areas of the climb. The trails are well maintained and in great shape. Getting to the saddle was uneventful but I was not prepared to do a 250 foot decrease just to go way the heck back up.

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Carolyn heading down from the saddle on west side before heading back up.

Carolyn and I reached the top in about 70 minutes with plenty of rest stops along the way. After all if you are going to put in the effort, you sure should enjoy the scenery. In some places, if you are not paying close attention you could find yourself off the trail. I look over and  I find Carolyn scrambling on the side. I’m over here sweetheart.  I think she liked the mini off road adventure.

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If you look close o the right you can see Carolyn heading back to the trail.Enter a caption

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Where the Sunset Trail and the Hunter Trail meet up to climb to the summit.

On our initial hike on the east side to the summit, we came across approximately ten hikers coming down. Past the saddle, we ran into another six and on the summit we met two young men on leave from military training. The trail was not populated and gloves really do make a difference when hiking with the steel cables.

Once getting to the summit, we spent 20 minutes just taking in all in. High on this mountain top you can live, love, and laugh a lot. By golly that’s why we do it. Living, loving, and laughing with my girl.

While at the top, one of the young men took our picture and you can see the cars on I-10 and really puts a perspective on the climb.3VxOKQimQa24pVcd7zf4%w

We could even see the snow over on the mountains north and east of Tucson. As you imagine, going up is one thing and coming down is another. The cables become a bit more intimidating on the way down as you want to make sure you don’t lose your footing and bang yourself up. On the initial stretch down, we passed two separate groups of two hikers each heading up. That was the upward bound groups we would see on our trek down the mountain.

On the way to the saddle, you go down only to go back up that 250 foot initial drop from the saddle. That was brutal and thank goodness you could help pull yourself along using the cables. Once we reached the saddle, we hiked down to the trailhead in the shade which was very nice. It took us another 70 minutes total time to get back.

The one thing I failed to mention is the wildflowers. The yellow wildflowers were starting to come out and it a beautiful site to see. Yellow and yellow and yellow against the green is incredible.

Once completing the hike, I would consider this summit hike much more challenging then Piestewa Peak and Camelback. Plus there were no crowds, no music, no trash and away from the city. With that being said, don’t be surprised if I go back soon and try the summit from the Sunset Trail. Sunset trail is longer and wraps around on the west side of the mountain so the sun can be a factor if it is hot outside as you appear to be completely exposed.

Back in the car and onward to Oro Valley we go. As you might suspect by now, our hiking adventures lead to craft beers so we stopped in at Growler USA. Wow! What a selection of craft beers. My Hilton Team member benefits were getting used at the Hilton El Conquistador resort in Oro Valley so it was a no brainer to hit up this tap room. The Belching Beaver Me So Honey blonde ale is a fabulous lighter beer after a hike. Just a touch of sweetness and it had Carolyn and I at first taste. From there I just had to have the Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. For the stout drinkers, this is a good one.

In the meantime, Carolyn and I both agree that Picacho Peak just soared to the top of our favorite summit hiking adventures.  #lovearizona #highonamountaintop #countrymusic

About timfruth

Longtime public educator who recently retired from public education. Messed around in politics as a town councilor and vice mayor. I am a father and a husband who drives a shuttle van for the retirement gig. Love the outdoors and rapidly adjusting to a new me.
This entry was posted in Arizona Hiking Adventures, Hiking, Relationships, Road Trip, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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