|  Home |  Canada Trips |  US Trips |  Hiking |  Snowshoeing |  MAP |  About

Safford Peak
(aka Sombrero Peak)
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
January 25, 2023

Distance: 6.0 km (3.7 mi)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 484 m (1588 ft

While searching for hikes to do near Phoenix, Safford Peak caught our eye. It lies a short distance from Tucson, an area we wanted to visit. Coincidently, Safford was also favoured by Sonny Bou and Zosia Zgolak who climbed it a month earlier.

After driving nearly two hours from Phoenix, Dinah and I parked at the edge of Saguaro National Park. The trail is in the park, but the parking lot lies outside so park fees aren't required.

We started up an obvious trail, hiking through a saguaro-studded landscape before crossing a low pass and jumping onto another trail. It heads to the peak before turning to climb a high pass. From the pass, we followed the trail to impressive dark cliffs that guard the mountain. But the backside is unprotected, and that's where the trail leads. It skirts the base of the cliffs on the left before ascending a steep slope to reach the west ridge. A short hike with brief scrambling leads to a little summit ridge. Dinah waited at the end of the mildly exposed ridge, while I made my way to the top of Safford. Desert flats surround the mountain, but a few peaks can be seen in the distance. I took photos, and after rejoining Dinah, we made our way back to the high pass.

Instead of retracing our steps down the south side of the pass, we took the trail down the north side. After traversing for a time, we dropped down to Sanctuary Cove, a nature preserve. We followed one of the many trails out. A natural desert garden, the preserve includes interpretive signs and a small chapel.

Sanctuary Cove is a place for appreciation, meditation and reflection. On the way in, we passed a woman sitting lotus style on a rock who was “absorbing energy.” Perhaps Dinah and I absorbed energy too, countering the reserves we lost in climbing. I think we broke even, feeling as fresh as when we started.

Our trip held a surprise at the end. Just before we exited the preserve, Dinah spotted a wee beastie, about knee high, trotting in the desert.

“What is that?” she exclaimed. It was a javelina. Although they resemble a pig, they are unrelated. We watched it for some time before it disappeared into the desert. Being the first time we saw a javelina, we talked excitedly about it as we returned to our car.

KML and GPX Tracks

Starting up the trail. Safford Peak on the right.

The trail begins by running over a slight pass

A higher pass appears ahead

It must be tricky for a wren to build a nest in cactus

Ocotillos are beginning to sprout leaves

A barrel cactus grows next to an ocotillo

Hiking up the slope from the pass

Looking down at the pass

The grade eases at the cliff base

Looks like primrose

After turning a corner, the trail begins to climb

Looking back

The trail becomes steep

On the ridge

The summit appears above Dinah. The trail climbs to the left of it.

Dinah pulls herself up on the trail

Looking back at Dinah below the little summit ridge

The summit is a short distance away

The snow-covered summit of Mount Lemon (2792 m) lies east

Picacho Peak stands out to the north

Dinah and I pose beneath the summit

Back at the pass where we diverged from our ascent route

The trail traverses a ridge before dropping down on our right

Looking back at Safford Peak

We followed a trail down to Sanctuary Cove

A network of trails includes signs

Signs in the preserve also name plants

Strolling along one of the trails

A sign says this is "A sacred path for prayers and meditation"

We visited All Creeds Chapel (mouse over to see inside)

A gilded flicker sits on a saguaro. Birds are so light they don't exert enough pressure to get impaled.

We spied a javelina in the desert. Despite appearances, they are not related to pigs.

It crossed the road in front of us

This hummingbird hovered a few feet from me before zipping 100 m away to land on a bush

After returning to the parking lot, I was surprised to see deer enter the preserve

Avra (3.8 mi, 3566 ft, 1345 ft)

U.S. Trips | Home