Get Your Hike On at Picacho Peak

This is probably the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on. Bar none. There’s cables and small walkways and scary cacti and hard-to-breathe hills; but it was worth it. The view at the top of the climb is serene and you can see for miles. The little flat area at the top is the perfect place for a break; even though I took many a break on my way up there. You can sit on the rocks near the edge and stare out to the other beautiful Arizona hills and mountains but make sure you get back down the mountain before dark. Otherwise your downhill climb may be a bit dicey. Just in case, always bring a flashlight, tons of water, snacks, and a good attitude.

I’m trying to get back in shape. Trying. After I moved to Arizona, I found the hot air, lack of humidity, and West Coast viruses to be too much for my poor little East Coast immune system. I got a new flu, cold, virus, infection, rash, every other week from January until September. But these are just nitpicky complaints.

So now that we have established I am out of shape, this mountain is quite the hike whether you are in or out of shape. I think the difference is the time and break commitment. If you’re in-shape and looking for a good hike that is challenging but manageable, I suggest this one. If you’re out of shape and looking to get back into shape, I suggest this hike. You may need to take more breaks, drink more water, and stare more aimlessly than those who run up and down the mountain, but that’s ok. The views around the mountain are definitely worth it and it is certainly a good workout.

The beginning of the hike, for me at least, was the most difficult. It’s all uphill. For a long, long time. I had to take quite a few breaks but there’s a nice bench at the midway point to the top. The footing is a little rocky and rickety so I suggest wearing some hiking shoes or some shoes with a lot of grip. I wore my road running shoes that have a flat bottom which was definitely not ideal. There’s a lot of cabling put up to help you up and down the mountain but bring gloves because if you slip or hold on too tight, the cable will wreck your hands. Stairs are on the other side of the cozy bench and they’re steep. I mean mountain goat steep. Make sure to pay attention on the way down and up.

The way down isn’t so terrible but the way up will have you feeling the work in your butt, thighs, and lungs for sure. Another dicey area is an almost straight up cabled area with a few very steep rocks that you have to carefully place your foot on. It takes quite a bit of arm strength to get up and down the cabling but it’s definitely good for getting back in shape and it feels fulfilling and healthy. I found that the way down the mountain my muscles were getting tired and it was hard to balance on some of the uneven footing, but I made it! I was exhausted getting back into the car but I felt like I had really earned my dinner that night.

If you’re more than slightly out of shape, don’t worry; I saw people of all sizes on my hike. Just make sure to follow all the good and safe rules of hiking like bringing enough supplies, flashlight, inhaler if you need it, phone, and climbing during daylight hours. The hike took me about 4 hours but it was time well spent outdoors in the cool, January weather of Tucson.