Sunset Vista Trail is a 5.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Picacho, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Easy access from I-10, about 40 miles north of Tucson. Look for signs to Picacho Peak State Park. There is a moderate admission fee for day-use.
Very beautiful but challenging hike. There is no shade at all, start as early as possible! We started at 8am and forecasts of 100+ degrees later in the day, I'd recommend to start earlier. We went up to the peak, took the Hunter Trail back down and then followed the park road to the car. We brought 4 liters of water each and used it all up (for drinking and keeping our heads and necks wet). Also: the trail seems longer than indicated. I recorded the hike using the alltrails App and it said 6km (not 4.4) on the peak. The trail is beautiful and well maintained, it gets difficult at the end with several steep switchbacks and cables (bring gloves! I didn't have any and now have 3 blisters on my hand). We did the hike on a Wednesday and didn't see anyone (except the ranger) in the whole park, not even a car. A bit scary :)
This is a good hike for people that are fit
It's a lot of fun and the view can't be beat
Loved the challenge!
This is a fun peak to climb. I had summitted once before from the Hunter Trail, so I decided to do things a little differently today. I parked at the Hunter Trailhead and then took the park road around the north side to the Sunset Vista Trailhead. From there I made it all the way to the summit, then back down to the junction with the Hunter trail and took that over the saddle and down to my car. The summit is very interesting, requiring cables up almost vertical rock walls for part of the ascent. Gloves are definitely recommended; I've done it twice without and my hands are always raw afterwards from hanging onto the cables. Certainly not an easy trail, and you want to make sure to have 2-3 liters of water per person, but it's well worth the views from the top.
Easy hike. An leisurely hour out and an hour back.
This is a very unique trail. It's one of the few places in the U.S. that uses a cable system ("via ferrata") to ascend to the summit. There is no meaningful shade for the first two miles of the trail, so be sure to set out early if you're hiking this on a hot day. It was only 80 degrees when I started out, but it felt much hotter, because the sun was beating down on me the whole way. After about two miles, you'll ascend a few switchbacks and then hit the first set of cables. Take hold, and start climbing!
The hike itself wasn't that difficult. It was my first time climbing with cables and that was a little surprising!!! I have to admit I was nervous coming back down because it was hard for my feet to find ledges and there were times all my body weight was on the cables, however no accidents occurred and I ended up loving it :) the view from the top was underwhelming. You could see forever but nothing really amazing or worth too many pictures. The "cove" after Sunset Vista and Hunter combine, and before the last usage of cables, was actually prettier than the top of the peak! Overall a good hike, and workout but nothing too special view wise.
Eat a good breakfast, pack a lunch and some snacks, bring plenty of water, and add about 10-20 degrees to the temperature prior to getting dressed if you're heading out on this trail. Approximately an hour into the hike the trail turns from a hike to an ascent up the mountain via scrambling and steel cable assisted climbing. This out and back trail will give you a full body workout going in both directions. There are times on the way up that the trail is difficult to follow with a few "false" trails that either don't lead anywhere or lead to more scrambling in order to find the actual trail. When you get to a "false" top you have the option of going left or right to either of the two peaks. On the return trip down you will need to slide down some areas while holding on to the cables. Total time: Approx. 4.5 hrs (with a 15-20 min. break at top for lunch).