"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Monday, March 21, 2016

Picacho Peak, AZ - Crazy Hike

Picacho, AZ
Picacho Peak State Park

While we were down in Tucson, hiking Picacho Peak was big on my radar.  We stayed at  Gilbert Ray County Park first to see the Desert Museum and hike Browns Mountain to get ready for Picacho.  We also were lucky to be in the area the same time some of our RV friends, Greg & Cori, Ruth & Dale and Vicki and Harry were in the area. 

Our campground view.

Me, Vicki & Cori
 We had Greg, Cori, Vicki and Harry over for Dessert in the Desert one night.  Lots of cake, pie and make-our-own-sundaes to sample.

Steve, Harry & Greg

Hobie getting comfy.  What a face!

Then on St. Patrick's Day we went out for some Corn Beef and Cabbage.  Found a nice place.
                                This guy went all out.                  Dale in his kilt with Harry & Steve.

Loretta, Me, Vicki & Ruth
I had gotten a bad virus a couple of days later and that took me out for the rest of the week.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to see or do much of anything while in the area that we had planned.
Next up was Picacho Peak.  As you travel along I-10 you can't miss the 1500' peak that juts up out of the ground. 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.

View driving from the south.

View as you enter the campground.

View from our campsite!

Nice big campsites.

Cute little pop-up.

This was an interesting sight.  This was the view looking west.

And if you turned around, this was the view looking east.  You could see both the sun and the moon at the same time!

It was more than a week later I was just getting my strength back and did a couple very small hikes to see if I was going to be up for Picacho.  I'd be doing it by myself.  The past week was very hot which wasn't helping things.  The shorter hikes were tiring for me so I knew I would have to pass on getting all the way to the peak.  I figured I'd hike the backside and go as far as I could, hoping to at least make it to the first set of cables. Cables you ask?  Here are some comments describing the hike:

"Be warned: Picacho is not for the weak of heart. Even though the trail is a mere four miles, this hike will kick your ass."

"These cables and metal posts driven into rock were originally created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1932 to service a light beacon on the summit. The light beacon is no longer there but a number of stretches that have the 78-year-old trail supports remain.
I guess you could say they are still in good condition -- I mean, we didn't die. But there were a few posts that were a little too jiggly for my liking. After the descent, we started climbing the last mile to the summit and ran into more metal cables. Much to my horror, they just kept getting more and more steep." 

Doesn't it sound like fun?  Here I go.  Along the way I passed a nice sheriff out patrolling the area making sure I had enough water, gloves for the cables and had some experience with a hike like this.  I only passed a couple of other trail extreme trail runners.  Or I should say they passed me!

That's Picacho Peak in the background.

Lot's of things blooming.  Even though I've seen so many, they still impress me.


Loved this heart shape in the tall Saguaro cactus.

Getting closer and the peak is looming.  Soon I will be climbing up the steeper part of the trail.  Still feeling ok.

It's getting very steep as these steps show.  I'm getting pretty winded and hoping the cables come soon as I know I won't be able to climb much further.

The peak looks fairly close, but it's NOT.  There are a few set of cables to climb and a bridge.

Oh boy.  Here's the first set!
It may not look steep, but it's pretty much straight up.  You need the cables to pull yourself up.  This guy was one of the trail runners and he was up this wall like it was nothing. 

My turn!  Well, I made it 1/2 way and was now out of my comfort zone.  I really wanted to make it to the top of this set, but decided it was best to head back down as I still didn't have all my strength back from being sick.  I know when to say when and it was when!
Nice view from the cables.

That's the trail between the rock wall and that bush.  No room for error.  Well, I guess I'll have to give it another try next year.  And Steve will come along with me next time.  All in all it was a nice 4 miles and I was just glad to be feeling better and made it this far.

One more visit with Vicki and Harry and the pooches and we are headed back to Apache Junction.


  1. Very, very smart move to turn around. First of all doing it alone isn't a good idea. That first set of cables was the easiest:) There were so many more cables than I thought. Coming back down took so much more energy than going up. We walked from the campground to Sunset Point and went up the way you did. We then came back the Hunter Trail. That downhill almost killed me. My one knee was barely working when we go to the flat finally. That Hunter trail is wicked!!! Then we had to walk another mile to the campground. You truly want to be in your best shape and have a partner. We took gloves but didn't use them. The cables were too slippery (they had just been replaced). We didn't need the gloves and got a much better grip without them. We, too, had to pass our first year. I developed a pinched nerve in my back that affected my right leg and I couldn't use it. So instead of hiking, we made two trips to Casa Grande Urgent Care. I was in major pain. We returned in the fall to conquer this bad boy!

    1. Ya,I'd rather have done it with Steve, but I was sick all week and down to my last day and he was working. I didn't plan on going all the way to the top. I had read your post when you had went a few times! There's always next year!

    2. Also, what a bummer ending up in Urgent Care! Glad it turned out ok.

  2. Great to connect in Tucson☺ Not sure this hike is on our list, going up might be okay, but coming down might be way too stressful.

    1. Love to cross with you and Dale so frequently. Going up was no picnic either. Next year I'll give it another shot when Steve can go up with me.

  3. It was great seeing everyone again. Until next year......

    1. It's always nice to see you again Loretta. Next visit we'll have to tour your new place!


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