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Picacho Peak Day Hike
Picacho Peak State Park
March 13, 1999
by Ingrid Nelson
Motorolans gather on the Hunter Trail to climb Picacho Peak.

On the early Saturday morning of March 13th, 1999, a group of Motorola trekkers and friends set out to conquer Picacho Peak. There were 22 of us on this short yet strenuous trek. As we caravanned down to Picacho Peak State Park, I could see the “saddle” looming in the distance. There was this great peak and an iddy biddy ant hill just to the left. I recall climbing this ant hill last year, thinking “what an accomplishment”. It reminds me of a Simpson’s episode. Homer climbs a hill, quite thrilled to have reached the top, only to find himself under the shadow of a GREAT mountain!

The weather was a little nippy at first (60s), but it did not take long for me to shed my sweatshirt. We passed the Talk About radios out so everyone could go at their own pace. I took my time.

We climbed up the first part of the trail. There were quite a few steps up, but it was a balanced climb, with stretches of steady grade. It was quite shady too, next to the mountain. Once we reached the saddle, I was not thrilled to hear the shouts of joy over the radio, “We’re almost to the top!” ...(Big whoop :P ) We were only half-way there.

Upon reaching the saddle, I was expecting a slight dip, then a steady climb. To my astonishment, it was more like a drop-off! Remember when I said gloves were handy to hold on to the rails...I think you should bring an inflatable raft, and just slide down the saddle. It would be a lot more fun!

The last part of the trail was a CLIMB up! This trail is not for those who are scared of heights. I just don’t really like ledges. But with the encouragement of Jeannie, I made it past those spots. There was only one really tricky spot where I could not figure out where to jam my foot into the rock. Eventually, I just pulled myself up with my arms. I ran into one hiker who took his dog up to the top. He had to carry his dog up on the parts where you needed to hang on! Amazing!!

Although this description may sound a bit rough, it really was not that bad. The parts of the trail that are steep have rails to hang on to, and with the encouragement of your Motorola buddies, you can make it to the top!

The cable didn’t break.
In the background you could hear the cannons go off from the Civil War re- enactment. It was too difficult to see, as we were so far up, and the view of the battleground was obscured behind a small hill.

The view from the top is awesome. The weather had warmed up quite a bit, to the mid-70s. You could see for miles all around. By the time I made it, there was quite a crew up there. We all settled down for a mid-day lunch (it was noon by now). We also snapped a few photos to remember the moment we climbed this great mount. One lady hiked up Picacho with a backpack (in preparation for the Grand Canyon)...quite amazing. She really liked Motorola, especially if we dropped one of our TalkAbout Radios on the way down. There were also a number of small children, running up and down the trail, making you feel really old!

On the way down, it was a bit crowded, but we eventually made it through. An early start is a good idea. On the way down, my friend Christy skinned her knee, and many of us did not have a First-Aid kit. This is a good reminder that we all need to carry one!

Civil War re-enactment at Picacho Peak.

The hike took about 4 hours. We all gathered around and shared a few drinks. Some of us stopped by the Reenactment of the Confederate victory at Picacho Peak. Unfortunately, I was unable to see it, so I welcome anyone’s input that checked it out.

Overall, I think Picacho Peak is quite a nice hike. This year we did not have many wildflowers, due to lack of rain. Last year it was just beautiful, decked out in a blanket of purple and yellow wildflowers. I recommend coming at that time of year (usually late February or early March). The trail is challenging, yet invigorating.

See ya’ on the next trail!

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated August 3, 2019