Wasson Peak via The Sendero Esperanza and Hugh Norris Trails, Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Sendero Esperanza Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Wasson Peak via The Sendero Esperanza and Hugh Norris Trails - 7.9 miles
Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Sendero Esperanza Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.9 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,988' - 4,687' (4,687' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,699' net elevation gain|
Wasson Peak via The Sendero Esperanza and Hugh Norris Trails - 7.9 Miles Round-Trip
The Sendero Esperanza and Hugh Norris trails join to form the shortest and perhaps most lightly used route to Wasson Peak, the Tucson Mountain District's highest point.
Hikers may prefer this option for a modicum of solitude, and (seasonal) morning shade while rising up a north-facing bajada to reach the Hugh Norris Trail:
The Sendero Esperanza Trail heads south on a sandy, brush-lined path (once an old wagon road) toward the base of Wasson Peak.
Though saguaros are relatively sparse in this north-facing bajada, diverse cholla gardens, mature ironwoods and large barrel cacti highlight the first mile. Wildlife is particularly active in washes that cross this ares.
The trail passes Dobe Wash (.7 miles : 3,140') and continues mildly into the foothills. At 1.2 miles it scales moderately steep switchbacks to Wasson Peak's west ridge and the Hugh Norris Trail (1.75 miles : 3,610').
Note the greater diversity of grasses and brush in this transition from Desert Scrub to Desert Grassland.
The Hugh Norris Trail bends east up the ridge and diversifies once more on the transition from Desert Scrub and Grassland to 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 3.25 miles (4,300') the trail scales another set of rocky switchbacks to the King Canyon Trail - Sweetwater Trail junction (3.65 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 for the last .3 miles to Wasson Peak (3.95 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 17.069 W111 10.029 — Sendero Esperanza 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
The Sendero Esperanza Trailhead is located approximately 6 miles from the Red Hills Visitor Center, 1.5 miles east of the intersection of Hohokam Road and Golden Gate Road.
From Tucson, take Speedway Blvd west (it will become West Gates Pass Road) and continue west to Kinney Road. Turn right onto Kinney Road and follow it past the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and Red Hills Visitor Center until it intersects with Hohokam Road. Turn right onto Hohokam Road (also known as the Bajada Loop) and continue to the Golden Gate Road intersection. Turn right onto Golden Gate Road and continue for 1.5 miles to the marked Sendero Esperanza Trailhead on your right hand side.
Saguaro National Park: Tucson Mountain District
27 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743