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“Sunset Vista Trail surprisingly tough”

Picacho Peak State Park
Ranked #2 of 6 things to do in Picacho
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Visitors traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. Enjoy the view as you hike the trails that wind up the peak and, often in the spring, overlook a sea of wildflowers. The park and surrounding area are known for its unique geological significance, outstanding and varied desert growth, and historical importance. The unique shape has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times. One of the first recordings was in the 1700s by the Anza Expedition as it passed through the area. The park offers a visitor center with exhibits and a park store, a playground, historical markers, a campground and picnic areas. Many hiking trails traverse the desert landscape and offer hikers both scenic and challenging hikes. Hike prepared and know your limits. Bring plenty of food and water and wear proper footwear. Enjoy the beauty of the desert and the amazing views.
Miami, Florida
Level 5 Contributor
46 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Sunset Vista Trail surprisingly tough”
Reviewed November 22, 2012

We stopped in at Picacho Peak on our way from Tucson to Scottsdale, having already hiked that morning at Sabino Canyon in Tucson, so we were looking for a fairly moderate hike. We knew the Hunters Trail was more than we could handle, so we opted for Sunset Vista, a "moderate" trail that begins at the northernmost parking area.

The trail was surprisingly difficult, with a lot elevation increase in the initial half mile that involved climbing up some large (2 foot) stone and wooden steps. The trail then travels along the west side of the mountain at a fairly constant elevation, but getting across multiple arroyos involved more up and down on fairly steep grades. The trail mostly consisted of loose rocks so it was pretty treacherous at times, at least for a trail advertised as "moderate." We only had about 2.5 hours to spend, so we did not travel all the way to the summit.

Most of the park seems to be composed of relatively desolate "moonscape" which is dramatic but also a bit creepy after a while. Vegetation is quite limited and sparse. However, there were definitely great views of distant mountains across the valley and the hike was a good experience for us.

The park entry fee of $7 was reasonable and the staff at the visitor center were extremely friendly and helpful.

Visited November 2012
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Thank ZamiaV
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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128 reviews from our community

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Canada
Level 6 Contributor
148 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Nice campground, large sites, great trails”
Reviewed November 14, 2012

We stayed in the campground in our RV and were impressed with the neatness and large size of the sites. The view is amazing as well. We hiked the Hunter trail - not for the fient of heart. It says it is difficult and it is - you must be in pretty good physical shape to enjoy this hike and even to complete it. There are sections that are very steep, some almost vertical, that you hang onto a single or a double wire. One section in particular requires good physical strength both to haul yourself up and to hold yourself coming down. (We met a young couple on the way, and she was having difficulty because of lack of strength.) It is a fantastic accomplishment, and I highly recommend it for a great hike.

Visited November 2012
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Thank IslandWest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ohio
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Up the Hunter Trail”
Reviewed November 8, 2012

Picacho Peak dominates the area and as you stare at the peak, you can be standing on it after hiking Hunter Trail. From the parking lot, the first mile is all up hill and usually fairly steep. Take a break at the saddle by sitting on the bench and admire the views. From there it is partially down the other side via cables and handholds before heading back up. If heights are a problem for you, you may have a problem with several sections that are so practically vertical walls that are climbed, again with the help of cables, screens and handholds. One final section has a board walk in place because otherwise, there is nothing to support your forward progress. Great views at the top and a good workout. Done it several times and always fun.

Visited October 2012
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Thank OhioCyclist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tucson USA
Level 4 Contributor
44 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Great hike up Hunter Trail but definitely not easy”
Reviewed April 5, 2012

Hunter Trail is one of Southern Arizona's best hikes if you're young and/or a fit and careful hiker. I like to go in the afternoon because the cliffs offer delicious shade as you climb (on the east side of the peaks) by noon. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes/boots because the trail isn't only steep but full of loose stones and gravel from erosion. It's gorgeous when the poppies, owl clover, ocotillos, and cactus are blooming but the landscape and cacti are pretty awe-inspiring even without the flowers. (I've never been bothered by the proximity of I-10; too much else to enjoy.) By the time you reach the saddle you can watch the vultures and swifts from above, as well as see a dozen mountain ranges stretch away all around you. Bring plenty of water and a good snack and enjoy the views! For most people, the saddle is enough. If you head off for the summit, be forewarned that it's a real challenge, even for the young. Again take lots of water, at least a full liter per person. I don't think it's an advisable hiking area in the summer for outside visitors; a young couple ran out of water a few years ago and died. That happens pretty frequently in the summer in Southern Arizona--visiting hikers don't realize how fast dehydration and exhaustion can kill you here. Another warning: children don't recognize dehydration as well as adults, so you've got to make your kids drink. Don't forget the sun screen! And the $7 entry fee per vehicle.

Visited March 2012
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Thank redwinterTucson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Caribbean Key, Florida, United States
Level 5 Contributor
36 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“FIELDS OF FLOWERS IN MARCH”
Reviewed February 15, 2012

This high-desert treasure trove is best experienced in March, when the desert erupts into fields of lovely wildflowers. Check out the emus on the side of I-10, just south of the park. Picacho is a big spooky mountain about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. It is the site of Arizona's lone Civil War skirmish.

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2 Thank Mark O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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