Located a little over 2 hours south of Phoenix is the city of Tuscon in Arizona. This area is surrounded by beautiful nature and a lot of cacti. The great thing about Arizona is that it is a great place to visit year-round. I lived there for a few months from the end of summer to the start of winter. The coldest it would get would be in the 50s. This is great news for hikers in the area. There might be some snow on the ground, but Wasson Peak is a top hike in the area to do when visiting.
This hike is located in the Saguaro National Park and offers impressive views of the surrounding area. While visiting this national park you will see the most cacti you have ever seen in your life. This was my first time hiking in the southern region of Arizona and I am planning on coming back to do more.
In this guide, I will go over all the details you need to know when hiking up to Wasson Peak.
Where is Wasson Peak Located?
Tuscon is a bustling city that offers multiple attractions for adventure enthusiasts. From downtown, you will have to drive 25 to 30 minutes to get to the King Canyon Trailhead. This peak is located in the Saguaro National Park. Some other popular trails in the area consist of Hugh Norris, Valley View Overlook, and Sendero Esperanza.
A similar hike to this in the Phoenix area would be Piestewa Peak. The length of that hike is only 25% of this but the views are identical.
How Long Does it Take to Hike to Wasson Peak?
It will take the average hiker around 4 hours to complete this hike. The trail that we took is a loop hike but this can also be done as an out & back. Start early so you’re able to take your time and enjoy the top. Wasson Peak gives great 360-degree views of the surrounding area and you don’t want to be in a rush.
Tuscon to King Canyon Trailhead
Tuscon is a great place to v visit as there are many fun things to do. You can visit the many museums, check out the botanical gardens, or see some animals at the zoo. If you’re staying downtown, I will give you directions from there to the King Canyon Trailhead.
Wasson Peak is accessible from other locations but this is the trail that we decided to take.
Directions to Wasson Peak Via King Canyon Trail
Make your way to W Speedway Blvd. Travel along this road heading west towards Saguaro National Park for 5 miles. You’ll then want to take a slight left onto W Gates Pass Rd. After 4.8 miles you’ll be taking a right turn on Kinney Rd. Keep straight here for 2.8 miles and then the Kings Canyon Trailhead will be on your right.
Best Places to Stay in Tuscon, Arizona
- Graduate Tuscon: If you’re looking for a nice hotel with a view, then this is your top choice.
- Hotel McCoy: One of the most unique hotels in Tuscon, this is an art lover’s dream.
- Holiday inn: You can’t go wrong with this one and especially the free breakfast.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Arizona
The best time to visit Tuscon and other areas of Arizona is either in the Spring or Fall months. This is when the temperatures are much cooler. If you were to go in the summer, then you could see temps get as high as 120 degrees.
If you want to enjoy your vacation then I suggest going in October. That has been my favorite month of my time living here.
Wasson Peak Trail map
Below is the trail map that you will see when getting to the King Canyon Trailhead. I always like to take a picture of this just in case. It always has valuable information on it that you never know when you’ll need it.
Other Hikes You’ll Love in Arizona
Wasson Peak Via King Canyon Trail Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 7.9-mile loop trail. This varies slightly depending on if you do the entire hike or not.
- Duration: On average it will take people 4 1/2 hours to finish. This depends on your fitness level and the time of the year as well as which trail you take.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of the length, slight elevation gain, and potential heat.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1863 feet.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
If you want to read more about this hike as well as reviews, then check it out on Alltrails.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
My Experience Hiking to Wasson Peak in Tuscon, Arizona
It was a cold (for Arizona) day in the south for us as we were heading back home for the holidays. The drive back to the east coast for us was around 30 hours. We mapped out a plan to hit a few hikes along the way home and Wasson Peak was our first stop.
This hike was better than I thought it would be in these temperatures but the distance kept us warm.
Arriving at the Trailhead
Getting to the trailhead for Wasson Peak is fairly easy and there was more than enough parking for us. This was during the winter so the earlier months could be more crowded.
This was our first time in Tuscon and so far we loved it down here. The trail isn’t hard to follow for the most part but I would suggest downloading maps.me. This is a great tool when hiking as it is free and works offline. All you have to do is download the area you are currently in before heading out to adventure.
Cactus Fields of Saguaro National Park
There is only one true part of the trial that you have to pay attention to. The photo above is this spot on the Wasson Peak hike. Follow the signs and you will want to take a right up those steps.
Throughout the hike, the fields are littered with cacti. It sometimes feels more majestic seeing this in the wintertime.
There are small ice patches in the more shaded areas and we knew we are gonna be cold when we get to the top of Wasson Peak.
Reaching the Top of Wasson Peak
The last stretch of the hike up to Wasson Peak was more uphill than the rest. After looking at the view pictured above, we headed left, past some cacti, and up the mountainside.
It had been a while since we did a hike of this distance and incline. Not saying that it’s a lot but the majority of our hikes in Arizona were rather short.
Once you get up the side of this mountain, you will see Wasson Peak to your right. Take the right at the fork and that will lead you to the top. Be sure to sign the book!
When heading back, you can go the same way or do the loop. To do the loop, you will want to take a left at the fork where you originally took a right to head to the top.
Other Things to do in Tuscon, Arizona
Arizona is an amazing state and Tuscon is no exception. There are many things to do in this wonderful area besides enjoying nature. You can visit the zoo, the historical sites, botanical gardens, and museums. I highly suggest you take a look at some of the activities listed below.
Final Thoughts on the Wasson Peak Hike
The weather was a lot colder than we would have liked but after a few minutes, we warmed up. The views throughout the hike were spectacular and reaching the top of Wasson Peak made the journey worth it. It is hard to find a bad hike that offers the type of 360-degree views that this hike does. Overall I highly suggest this hike to anyone passing through the area.
Thank you for reading my guide to the Wasson Peak hike in Tuscon, Arizona. I hope this helps you along your trip exploring the great Southwest.