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Sweetwater Trail

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Saguaro you today? Great hike with views of Tucson and Wasson Peak
Near:Tucson, AZ
Distance:6.4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:1547 ft
Hike Time:3.5 hours
Trail Condition:Well maintained trail
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: As you climb to the saddle that connects to the King Canyon Trail and Wasson Peak, you will encounter varied desert plants with a large number of saguaro, some being over one hundred years old.

The first portion of the hike gently winds through the lower hills, and down into the creek you will be climbing to the saddle. As you work your way to an older section of the trail, stone steps have been added for the steeper sections.

Once the trail merges with the older trail section, the trail becomes more rugged and steep. From here up to the saddle, the trail carves along the ridge of what becomes a deep canyon with towering saguaro on all sides. The views of Tucson to the east are spectacular, and to the west looms Wasson Peak.

Once at the saddle, many hikers take the optional 1.2 mile hike to the summit of Wasson Peak. If you are feeling up for it, the trip up Wasson Peak commands breathtaking views of the rugged Tucson Mountains and other surrounding ranges.

Trailhead: From Speedway and Campbell drive west on speedway to the I-10 Frontage Road. Turn right (north) on Frontage Rd. During I-10 construction follow Frontage Rd. to El Camino Del Cerro/Ruthrauff Rd. Turn left (west) on El Camino Del Cerro. Follow El Camino Del Cerro west for 5.7 miles to the Sweetwater Trailhead. (Lat:32.28865 Lon:-111.12077)
Trail Guides for Sweetwater Trail:
Tucson Hiking Guide
by Betty Leavengood (Pruett Publishing)

Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact:  Saguaro National Park - - (520) 733-5158
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Jeff Branscum, who has posted  27 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews  Page 1 of 2   Submit your own review
Reviewed by Jim K on 5/1/2014
This is a really nice hike. From the start my plan was to take it all the way to the summit of Wasson, and I am glad I did. It adds up to a couple of hours, but it is well worth it if you are desirous of a more vigorous workout. The views from the saddle at the end of Sweetwater, and again from the top of Wasson are magnificent. There is also the satisfaction of achieving the highest point in the Tucson Mountains. I highly recommend this trek.

Reviewed by JM on 4/27/2013
Really nice hike with particularly interesting vegetation at the beginning. The first half is relatively easy and pleasant and the second half has a somewhat challenging gradual grade to the saddle back at the base of Wasson Peak. We didn't do the peak, but have done it twice via King's Canyon. It's well worth the trip.

Reviewed by AZDean on 2/22/2013
If you hike in Tucson, then you have to check out a trail like this one in the Tucson Mountains, as the area is so different from the big mountains. They say the Tucson mountains are the remains of a volcanic caldera, and once you get up high enough, they definitely have that other worldly volcanic appearance. I didn't make it to Wasson peak last month, but I'm hoping to this weekend. I've had so much fun hiking myself that I've started blogging about my hikes at This includes some great panoramas from the Sweetwater trail and even a GoogleEarth video.

Reviewed by MM on 10/26/2012
Hiked this trail earlier this week. It was a great hike into the Tucson Mountains. The Sweetwater Trail basically begins right at the El Camino del Cerro Trailhead for which there are signs along El Camino del Cerro that make it easy find and get to. It's 3.4 miles from the trailhead to the intersection with the King Canyon Trail and the Wasson Peak Trail. I would agree with the comment that the trail gently winds through the lower hills and would probably even rate the Sweetwater Trail portion as easy were it not for the small loose rock covering most of the trail coupled with the fact that you're trending upward the whole way to the intersection. The desert terrain is beautiful though especially in this mid October weather. From the int

Reviewed by BG on 7/11/2012
Great trail especially in the winter. Sweetwater/Tucson Mount Trail Hiking

Reviewed by Josh on 1/10/2012
Fantastic hike and the views from the top of Wasson Peak are spectacular with a 360 degree view of the valley. Looking off to the north you see the Catalina’s and to the east the Rincon’s. Doesn’t get any better then this, the only issue is the majority of the hike you will be hiking on loose rocks so watch your step. Hiked it on New Years Eve 2011 great way to end the year and start fresh for 2012. Should take you about 4 hours total and I highly recommend this hike.

Reviewed by DjD on 8/20/2011
Did not hike to the top, but loved the hike. As for this being easy or moderate, it is relatively easy. IF you find it hard, I'm not sure what you expect from hiking paved path and handrails perhaps? There are steps, and very few steep grades, some loose material. After hiking all over this country and several others, I would rate this a 2 to 4 in difficulty. It is a gentle walk for the most part, get out and enjoy it!

Reviewed by JJ on 3/10/2011
excellent workout, great views when you get to the top. did not hike to top of Wasson Peak, but will not next trip out there. very well maintained trail. with warmer weather approaching i recommend plenty of water and start ealrier.

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