Trailhead: Hunter Trailhead
Length: 7 miles roundtrip
State Park: Picacho Peak State Park
Directions to Trailhead:
From I-10, south of Casa Grande, take the Picacho Peak Road exit into Picacho Peak State Park. Continue to the ranger station, where you must pay your fee. Then, follow the signs to the trailhead.
From the trailhead, the Hunter Trail begins its ascent via a long series of switchbacks that meander through the Sonoran desert vegetation at the base of Picacho Peak. Along this section of the trail -- and all along the trail -- there are steel cables to be used on steep climbs. (It is recommended that you bring gloves.) The switchbacks end just below the saddle. The trail then crests the saddle then descends on the other side of the mountain. Up until that point, the highway noise is a distraction, but after you descend from the saddle, the noise disappears.
The trail continues along the backside of the mountain then begins to climb very steeply towards the peak. At some points, the trail becomes so steep that some Class 3 climbing is required. Then, the last 200 feet of the trail begins to switchback until it reaches the summit. Stunning views of the desert below can be found. Also, watch out for "dive-bombing" sparrows! We were in the flight path of the sparrows; they zipped by us so fast that we could hear the whoosh of their wings.
Return the way you came, or take the Sunset Vista Trail from the summit down the backside of Picacho Peak. This trail is 5 miles long and meanders through the Sonoran desert at the foot of Picacho Peak to the Sunset Parking Area.
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