Picacho Peak via Hunter Trail

Picacho Peak State Park

August 9th, 2020

Dog Friendly: Yes, but must be leashed. They can only go up to the saddle of Hunter Trail. I wouldn’t recommend bringing dogs.

Fee: $7 vehicle fee

Restrooms at trailhead: Not at Hunter Trailhead but there is restrooms by the entrance of the state park.

Video: click here


When we drove to Tucson to go to Saguaro National Park we noticed this beautiful mountain on the right side of I-10. I used AllTrails and found out that it was Picacho Peak State Park. From Phoenix this is only about an hour and 5 minute drive. The drive isn’t bad at all and the state park is literally right off the highway. We woke up at 3:10am so we could get to the park by 5:00am. We got there shortly after 5am. We wanted to get there early so we wouldn’t be hiking in the hot sun. We heard this hike can be brutal if you don’t start early. There is a $7 vehicle fee that you need to pay. Since we got there so early there wasn’t a ranger there so we did the self pay and had to put an AZ State Park paper on our dash. We highly recommend to pay to support the state parks, but also when we got back to our car after we hiked there was a ranger writing out tickets for the cars that didn’t pay.

This hike has steady elevation from the beginning. The cables start earlier then I thought they would, but I would say you don’t NEED NEED them until once you get past the bench part (look for the picture below). But they are useful to use so you don’t lose your balance. You climb up and will eventually come to a bench and that is when you head down. Yes, you head down just to head back up. This is where you start to need to use the cables. Before you get to the bench you will come across a massive wall of rock. Once you get to this you head to the right and walk along it. At this point you’re almost to the bench! Follow along below as I took pictures of a lot of the important parts.

The Peak is to the very left!
This is the first part that has cables. You can see that it is steep, but not so steep where you absolutely need them.
Looking back down. This is pretty early on in the hike. Notice how steep it is from the beginning!
Since we started to hike so early we got to see the sun start to rise over the mountains for a little bit.
The wall!
This is where you head to the right!
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
I was very warm as you can see!
The bench. This is where you start to head down.
Once you get to this point you start to head up again
This is where you start to head back up
It gets narrow!
More climbing!

Probably the hardest part of the hike.
The last stretch of cables!
This part was pretty narrow.
The view from the top.

That is a lot of pictures! But I think it is easier to show the different types of cables/fencing that we went through than explain it. Once we got past this last cable part there is still a little bit of the hike left. You get to a point where it looks like you can go left or right. To get to the peak you go right. You continue up for a little bit, which is of course still pretty steep. The overall view in my opinion isn’t the greatest. It’s not like you’re staring out into the valley. You have a view of farms and the I-10. But don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed this hike. I think the hike itself is what makes this hike worth it. It was a lot of fun and different than the hikes were used to. Watch out for rattlesnakes if you are hiking in the summer. We were told someone saw one by the bench, but by the time we got there we didn’t see it. But we did end up seeing one to the side of the trail. A pretty big one too. Overall, I would say this is a hard trail. If you have hiked Flat Iron I would say this isn’t as hard. Just different with the cables. On the way back it was nice because we were in the shade until we go to the bench part. After that we were in the sun for the rest of the time. I can’t imagine not having gloves because the cables get hot. Plus on the way down you are almost using your hands to slide down on them. This hike was great! It took us about 80 minutes out and back. We stopped a lot to take photos so that held us up a little.


  • High top hiking boots
  • Gloves
  • More water than you think you need
  • If you’re hiking the summer get there as early as possible. I personally think 7am is too late.
  • Wear sunscreen if hiking in the summer.
  • Leave No Trace

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