A hike to Wasson Peak
Tucson Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
August 3rd, 2008 – by: ClearSkies
The Tucson Mountains are the smallest range near Tucson. They were formed by volcanism, as opposed to crustal uplift which formed the other mountains near Tucson. This hike would take me 9.2 miles round-trip and give me some great sights! The trailhead is at about 2,800 feet in elevation, and Wasson Peak tops out at 4,687 feet.
My day started when my alarm went off at 4:30am. I didn't want to reach the trailhead too long after dawn so that I would avoid the hottest part of the day. The forecast called for a high of 97 degrees. While that's not too bad for the first part of August in Tucson, I didn't want to experience it for long if I could help it! The Sweetwater trailhead is at the dead-end of El Camino Del Cerro, and when I arrived at the small parking lot, there were two other cars.
I got on the trail around 6:30am. I had my binoculars over one shoulder and a 1-gallon canteen over the other. The day before I had filled the canteen about 1/4 full and froze that overnight before topping it off in the morning. That would give me cool water for most of the hike. A few minutes into the hike, a light shower started to fall. Nice! That and the clouds should keep me cool. After about 10 minutes, though, the rain stopped and the clouds started to slowly burn off as the sun rose higher in the sky.
The trail started to climb immediately. It's mostly rocky with some periods of level, sandy stretches. It dropped me into a shallow, dry wash (a creek bed that channels water during thunderstorms), and I encountered the trail register after I climbed up the other side. I signed it dutifully to record my visit. The next mile was generally rocky, with subtle uphill and downhill parts. The second mile was steeper and rockier still. I dropped into another wash, but this one was much deeper. It was after this wash that I encountered another hiker coming the other way. I was lucky that he was there since he alerted me to a rattlesnake sitting in the middle of the trail just a few feet ahead! I gave him (the rattlesnake) some room as I diverted off the trail to get past him, but I snapped his picture just the same!
The final mile of the trail was more of the same.
The Sweetwater Trail ended at King Canyon Trail. However, I still had another 1.3 miles to Wasson Peak, and this part of the route is the steepest with numerous switchbacks. I paused a few minutes to enjoy the view after topping this ridge before making my final push to the top. Along this part, there are a couple of abandoned copper mines right along the trail. In the early part of the 20th century, copper mining enjoyed limited success here for a couple of decades, but there hasn't been any active mining in this vicinity for a long, long time. Several other mines were bored into the hills at several places throughout these mountains.
.3 miles from the peak I reached the intersection of the Hugh Norris Trail at the top of a ridge that's between Amole Peak and Wasson Peak. Here is the first place to see the valley to the west and north. Almost there! I spent little time covering the last few hundred feet to the top. There is another trail register here, a few dozen paces from the summit.
I drank in the view from the top but didn't stay long. I had a long, hot return down the mountain. By the time I was about 3/4 of the way back down, I'm sure the temperature was well into the 90's, and I was definitely feeling it. The gallon of water that I brought with me was almost gone, and I downed the rest of it when I reached the car. It was 11:30am, and I started my drive back home.
I don't know if it's my age now or the fact that it's been so long since the last time I hiked, but my legs are sore!!
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