Living on the east side of Tucson means I have easy access to the Catalinas, Rincons, and the highway going up Mt Lemmon. I don't make it to the Tucson Mountains very often but I still needed to check off Wasson Peak from my list for the Women Who Hike Challenge. My friend and coworker James was up for a hike so this morning we set off for the west side of Tucson to summit Wasson Peak, the tallest point in the Tucson Mountains, elevation 4,687'.
It didn't take long for me to wish I had worn my stiffer boots, this trail is rocky! Even with mid-height supportive boots my ankles got a workout trying to stabilize the rest of my body on the uneven trail. The trail rose steadily from the King Canyon trailhead where we started. When we reached the junction for the Sweetwater Trail we were awarded wtih a beautiful view of the Santa Catalina Mountains. I hardly get to see the mountains from this angle and it made me appreciate their beauty even more.
From the junction it was another 1.25 miles to the top. Following the ridge line trail it was hard to know exactly which peak was Wasson but we continued on and eventual made it. I could officially check off another peak! The views at the top were spectacular.
Looking north we could see the Superstition Mountains, 100 miles away! Safford Peak aka Sombrero Peak is shown in the foreground of the photo above. We hung out at the top for about an hour, soaked in the beautiful fall day, and started to make our way down. Rather than following the same trail down we wanted to do a loop, coming down the Hugh Norris trail. This trail has stone steps for a good portion of it. We decided we'd rather hike down stone steps than up them.
We hung a left at the Esperanza junction, then got on the Gould Mine trail. There is an old copper mine (hence the name) and abandoned buildings that used to hold dynamite and other equipment for the mine when it was in production from 1906 to 1911. In the 1950s a mining company wanted to reopen the mine which would have created a huge open pit mine in the Tucson Mountains. However there was enough public outcry that the idea was shut down and in 1961 the land surrounding the mine was added to Saguaro National Park, forever keeping it protected.
The Tucson Mountains may not be as big or as grand as their neighboring mountains but they are still beautiful, especially if you enjoy Sonoran desert terrain filled with saguaros, ocotillo, prickly pears, and cholla.
Wasson Peak via King Canyon, Hugh Norris, Esperanza, & Gould Mine Trails
Date hiked: October 8, 2018
Total miles: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,886 feet
Total time: 6 hours (with 1 hour at the summit)
Land Acknowledgement: Ancestral lands of the Tohono O'odham and Yaqui