Baboquivari Peak via Summit Trail is a 6.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Tucson, AZ that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
off road driving
Fantastic remote hike on the Tohono O'odham reservation! The changing views and spectacular scenery are some of the best in AZ and well worth the trip! Sadly, the peak is inaccessible (without climbing gear and experience), but you can scramble up the rock face quite a ways past the tree line. The trailhead begins on the right side of the Baboquivari Mountain Tribal Park and gradually climbs through lower desert cacti and ocotillos. At one point there are some switchbacks through a "field" of ocotillos that is absolutely stunning in the spring when they are in bloom. The peak is not visible for most of the first half of the hike. Eventually you reach a point where you can look south into Mexico with a spectacular view of the mountain range. The trail continues to climb past a false peak (more of a rock bluff) before you finally get a good look at the real peak, a triangle of white rock towering above you. From here the trail begins to climb more steeply and soon the desert cactus and oaks give way to pines. The trail has some final steep switchbacks. Fortunately this section is nicely shaded in the trees before ending abruptly without much of a view. However, from here it is easy to scramble just a bit higher onto a rocky ledge above the trees. From here the view west across the Tohono O'odham reservation can appear to be a marvelous sea of green in the spring time if there have been good rains. You can follow the rock ledge up and around (however it is very loose footing) to where a trail picks up and then gets lost again in several places. It is possible to continue quite a bit higher to where Kitt Peak and views east become visible, however, the peak is inaccessible without technical climbing and gear. I once climbed to a small peak probably only a few hundred feet lower than the real peak which was completely impossible to get to across a very deep chasm between it and the rock peak that I was on. It has been some time since I last hiked this trail, which was already becoming overgrown in places the last time I hiked it around 2000. I am not sure how good of condition it may be in now. There were a few areas particularly at the beginning that became confusing as there are also some cattle paths through the desert in the lower elevation. There is also a cave that is considered sacred by the Tohono O'odham people who often leave gifts there for their god, I'toi. The trail for the cave is not really marked from what I remember, but starts to the left of the parking area, crosses the wash and then climbs as far as you can go until you are against the rock face of the cliffs. There are many trails that intersect to the cave (many of them made by free ranging cattle). I have never had any trouble finding the cave, however, as all trails basically go up to the same place. The cave itself is not very deep, with a small opening requiring some manuevering to get in and out of as it drops down a few feet once you are inside. I always enjoy seeing the variety of gifts that are left in the cave. Legend has it if you try to remove anything the cave will swallow you up, so while it may be tempting to take some of the beautiful Tohono O'odham baskets or pottery or other items, I would not recommend it, as this would be extremely disrespectful of the culture. Once I found a very heavy samurai sword that someone must have had a fun time carrying up there. On several occasions there has also been the head of a mountain lion in the cave! If you go, consider leaving behind a small gift of your own. Finally, there is a turnoff from the road shortly before you come to the mountain park that leads out to a rock fin that rises from the desert floor. If you walk around the rock you can find several ancient petroglyphs. It is also possible to climb atop the rock formation for a great view of the Baboquivari range. (A word of caution, mountain lions do frequent the area, and once I spotted just a glimpse of one as it bounded off the rocks from where it was apparently laying sunning itself before I climbed up and scared it off!)