Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hiking Pusch Peak - Tucson, AZ

I had no idea what we were getting ourself into. We didn't want too long of a hike so we opted
to give Pusch Peak a shot. It was about a 3 mile one way trip so how hard could it be? Wow were we suprised as we finally got into the climb. It starts out very nice and easy as you  stroll up through the foothills. But it quickly transforms into a steep climb up the side of the peak that is the toughest hike we have done in Tucson yet.

Note: dogs are not allowed on this hike.

At the trailhead the trail splits, go left and begin an easy climb up the foothills of Pusch Ridge. After a few minutes when the trail forks, go right and continue through the desert. After another 15 minutes or so you'll come up on a rusted sign that cannot be read. Veer to the right where you will start your steady climb up to Pusch Peak.

The climb is a lot of fun. Instead of the usual switchbacks this one really just follows the terrain straight up the mountain. You'll encounter areas where the trail is a little hard to spot but if you take your time at look around you can usually find footpaths were previous hikers have gone. The face of the peak doesn't look like it is too far off but it takes a while to make the way up. Not too far into the steep area there is a side trail off to the right that has great views of the Tucson valley. We decided to keep heading straight up to conserve energy just in case it was a tough climb. That was a good idea.

As you hike to the east of the face the trail seems to just go further and further and steeper and steeper.  Around each corner we thought we had finally made it to the the top only to find extremely steep trails going higher and higher!

There are quite a few areas of the trail that required us to really get on all 4's. Plenty of steep drops plus areas where I felt I was doing a little more of rock climbing than hiking. The views from the top are worth it though.  From the top of Pusch Peak there are 360 degree views; Mt Kimball and Mt. Lemmon off to the east and the Tucson Valley back to the west. There is a lot of room at the top to stop, rest and eat some lunch. Make sure to re-energize as the trip back down is tough.

Slow and steady is a great idea for this descent. Be careful with your foot placement, one wrong step and you are sliding pretty easy.

I highly recommend this hike. It is a great half day hike close in to Tucson that I would consider pretty tough or even strenuous. It will give you a great workout!

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