Wasson Peak via The Gould Mine, Sendero Esperanza and Hugh Norris Trails, Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: King Canyon Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Wasson Peak via The Gould Mine, Sendero Esperanza and Hugh Norris Trails - 8.6 miles
Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: King Canyon Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,916' - 4,687' (4,687' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,771' net elevation gain|
Wasson Peak via The Gould Mine, Sendero Esperanza and Hugh Norris Trails - 8.6 Miles Round-Trip
The Hugh Norris Trail is the most popular way to reach Wasson Peak (4,687'), the Tucson Mountain District's highest point. Those seeking lightly used alternative routes will find them at the King Canyon Trailhead.
There are two ways to reach Wasson Peak from this trailhead. The following description follows the Gould Mine, Sendero Esperanza and eastern half of the Hugh Norris Trail on a 4.3 mile route to the summit:
From the parking lot, drop into and cross the wash. A faint path leads up the wash's north bank to a sign that formally marks the Gould Mine Trail (.1 mile).
These rocky, south-facing slopes are ideal habitat for saguaro, and you'll see many over the next 2+ miles.
The Gould Mine Trail rises steadily to the Sendero Esperanza Trail (1.0 mile : 3,160'), which continues on a winding, moderately-steep climb to the ridge top and Hugh Norris Trail junction (2.1 miles : 3,610').
The Hugh Norris Trail bends east up the ridge and diversifies on the transition from Desert Scrub and Grassland into the lower Chaparral.
Here saguaro forests yield to grassy hillsides, yucca, jojoba and various shrubs not found lower on the trail. Ocotillo, prickly pear, mesquite, cat's claw and various cholla also thrive in these high, open spaces.
At approximately 3.6 miles (4,300') the trail scales steep, rocky switchbacks to the King Canyon Trail - Sweetwater Trail junction (4.0 miles : 4,566').
Amole Peak, often misidentified as Wasson Peak early in the hike, sits just off to the north of this challenging segment. The Hugh Norris Trail moderates past this junction to Wasson Peak (4.3 miles : 4,687').
Panoramas from the summit include Brown Mountain and Golden Gate Mountain (4,288') to the south, and the Rincon and Santa Catalina ranges to the east. Mount Lemmon (9,157') is easily identified across the Tucson Valley on a clear day.
- N32 14.815 W111 10.025 — King Canyon Trailhead
- The Hugh Norris Trail and Wasson Peak summit are fully exposed to sun and heat. Always carry ample water and full sun protection.
- Get an early start! Portions of this route are heavily used, and afternoon thunderstorms can develop with little warning.
- The trail Hugh Norris Trail is named for a widely respected Tohono O'odham police chief. Wasson Peak was named for John Wasson, an editor of the Tucson Citizen and unlikely appointee to the surveyor general office of the Arizona Territory in 1870.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- There is no camping in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. Backcountry camping is permitted only in Saguaro East; reservations and a free permit are required and can be obtained at the visitor center.
Directions to Trailhead
From Tucson, follow Speedway Blvd west (it will turn into West Gates Pass Road) until you reach Kinney Road. Turn right onto Kinney Road and follow until you reach the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (2 miles southwest of the Red Hills Visitor Center). Parking for the King Canyon Trailhead is directly across the street (north) of the museum entrance.
Saguaro National Park: Tucson Mountain District
27 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743