Carolyn and I hiked Picacho Peak for the first time and liked it so much that we had to come back and tackle the Sunset Vista Trail. We had hiked the Hunter Trail a two mile steep hike but we wanted to see the Peak from the west side so back towards Tucson we went. The state park website describes the Sunset Vista Trail: 3.1 miles; moderate first 2 miles, becoming difficult; Travels on the south side from the westernmost parking area and goes to the top of the peak. The first 2 miles are moderate, then the route becomes difficult, steep and twisting, with steel cables (gloves are recommended) anchored into the rock in places where the surface is bare.
It was a cloudy Friday when we entered the Park. Thankfully the crowds were not to bad in the pursuit of photographing the perfect “poppies” that dot the mountainside in the spring. The poppies were out but not in abundance due to the timing of the rains but it was still beautiful. There were plenty of people around the Sunset Vista Trailhead and there was actually some hikers/photographers that were walking out about a half mile on the trail to check out the views. We took our time enjoying the scenery and the serenity as we encountered only a few hikers on the trail. Fantastic hike that was challenging and awe-inspiring.
The elevation gain is around 2000 feet so it is quite significant but not quite as extreme as the Hunter Trail. This trail had a long metal cable climb to where the Hunter Trail and Sunset Vista Trail combine for your final push to the summit.
The cable climb was somewhat nerve wracking and I thought going up it was more intimidating then going down. Definitely would bring a pair of gloves for protecting your hands.
Upon reaching the summit, Carolyn and I returned to our previous tradition of hoisting a craft beer from an Arizona brewery, this time Huss Brewing. I went with the Koffee Kolsch and Carolyn with the Scottsdale Blonde. (stereotypical of us)
The journey backdown was uneventful with a few rain drops and just alone time on the trail. Our total hike time was approximately 2:40 with some rest stops along the way.
Once again we jumped into the car and onward to Tucson for an overnight stay and play at the El Conquistador Hilton in Oro Valley. Another great journey and time well spent. Plus, we returned to Growlers USA for that fantastic Belching Beaver Me So Honey blonde ale.
Some added highlights for Carolyn and I included meeting the “Tortoise” from Hike Arizona. We met him as he finished at the top. We had some fun conversations before heading back. Anyhow, I would highly recommend this hike as it is challenging, less traveled, spring flowers, summit climb, and just beautiful.