A mellow walk through open desert, then a steep but short climb to a panoramic ridgeline.


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The Tucson Mountains are the collection of peaks in the western district of Saguaro National Park.

They rise steeply from the flatter desert that surrounds them, so getting up in the mountains makes for incredible views.

There are no roads to any mountain top in the park, however, so you’ll have to hike.

Sendero Esperanza Trail is a relatively easy approach to an elevated view on a ridge leading to Wasson Peak.

Wasson is the tallest mountain in the park, and though Sendero Esperanza does not reach its 4,687-foot summit, it offers impressive panoramas from a prominent ridgeline. Sendero Esperanza goes at first across open desert of rich cactus forest, toward the elongate mountain in the distance.

The path was once a mining road, so it’s wide and easy to walk.

After the initial mile, though, the trail meets the mountainside and turns into switchbacks on rockier terrain.

The strenuous climb lasts less than a mile before topping out on the ridgeline.

From there, views stretch north and south to numerous other mountains and down to the desert floor, now appearing far away.

The ridgeline arcs upward to the east and west, but more steeply to the east, on a trajectory for Wasson Peak. This spot is a 4-way trail junction, where Sendero Esperanza crosses Hugh Norris Trail.

Sendero Esperanza continues over the ridge and down to the south, where it later intersects other trails.

Hugh Norris Trail follows the ridgeline and continues toward the peak.

If you’re feeling motivated, you can turn left at this junction and take Hugh Norris Trail higher for even better views and a tougher workout. The trailhead for Sendero Esperanza has ample parking and a toilet, but no water, so bring plenty.

There’s no shade on the trail, so get an early start if the day will be a hot one, or save this hike for the cooler season.

Mid-spring is usually the best time because of milder temperatures and abundant desert flowers. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/sagu/planyourvisit/saguaro_hiking.htm https://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/saguaro/hiking-west.html