Hiking Hotspot: Calloway Trail at Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak is a gorgeous state park located on I-10 about halfway between Casa Grande and Tucson, Arizona. This park makes for a refreshing break for any roadtrippers making the lengthy (and boring) drive through Southern Arizona. The striking 3374 foot peak really juts out spectacularly amongst the surrounding flatter desert landscapes. In fact, it can be seen 45 miles away in downtown Tucson!
Since ancient times, travelers have used the unique shape of this formation as a landmark. The prominent peak serves as a nice marker of approximately how much time you have left when traveling between Phoenix and Tucson, as I have used it myself on many occasions. Picacho is not an extinct volcano, although it was formed from ancient lava flow. Picacho means “Peak” in Spanish, thereby making the park’s name redundant.
The park is home to some incredible scenery, and yet still manages to remain quiet due to the unusual location in the middle of nowhere. This state park isn’t the largest, however, the trails here are beyond spectacular, and very tranquil due to the low visitation.
You will see so many beautiful Saguaro cacti on the trails. This really is a great park for desert lovers. Everything which makes the desert so great – exotic plant life, solitude, colorful sunsets, can be enjoyed here at Picacho.
If you time your visit during the spring season, you will get to see beautiful wildflowers (Mexican poppies) in bloom.
If you are not up for a super adventurous, endurance trek up to to the summit, there are shorter options which offer the same stunning scenery via minimal effort. The Calloway trail, a short steep climb of just 0.7 miles, takes you up to a stunning overlook. From here, you will be able to enjoy breathtaking 360 degree views of the surrounding desertscapes.
Asides from hiking, Picacho State Park is a great place to picnic and camp.
Location: 15520 Picacho Peak State Rd. Picacho, AZ 85141
Hours: Trails are open sunrise to sunset. Visitor’s center hours are 8am-5pm
Entrance Fee: $7 per vehicle ($3 per bike)
Difficultly: Relatively easy (with a moderate climb)
Distance: 0. 7 miles