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King Canyon Hiking Trail to Wasson Peak

★★★★★ Moderate / Tucson Area:

A radical ridge line ramble, and optimum views, are the crown jewels of the King Canyon Hiking Trail. Ascending to the summit of Wasson Peak (the highest in the Tucson Mountain Range), the King Canyon Hiking Trail zig-zags up the gorgeous slopes of this Saguaro National Park Mountain. At the peak, views of Tucson and southern Arizona reign supreme! 

TRAILHEAD: 2700 N. Kinney Road, Tucson    DIFFICULTY: moderate  •  DISTANCE: 3.5 MILES (7 MILES RT)  •  APPROX. TIME: 3.5-4.5 HOURS  •  ELEVATION GAIN: 1,785 FEET (128 STORIES)  •  APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 310-360 RT  •  BEST TIME OF YEAR: OCT. – APRIL  •  PETS: no  •  KID FRIENDLY: no  •  FACILITIES: at the visitor center, but not the trail head  •  FEES: $10 entry fee (or annual Saguaro National Park or National Park Pass)

Landscape, View, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Tucson, Arizona, Hikers, Ridgeline, Peak, Saguaro National ParkThe King Canyon Hiking trail is one of the crown jewels of the Tucson area mountain ranges. Located on the western outskirts of the city, in the heart of Saguaro National Park West, this beautiful trail rises to the top of Wasson Peak (the highest summit in the Tucson Mountain Range).

Hiker, base, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Wasson Peak, Landscape, Tucson Mountains, Tucson, Saguaro National ParkFrom the trail head, Wasson peak is clearly visible, reigning high and mighty over the Saguaro studded foothills. There are two options for hiking the first leg of the King Canyon Hiking Trail. The official path veers right, following an old jeep road. While, a sandy, fun-to-explore, wash veers left, paralleling the road. Both options meet at the Mam-A-Gah picnic area, 0.9-miles into the hike.

Hiker, wash, arroyo, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountains, Tucson, ArizonaIf you opt to hike the wash section, you’ll encounter a number of ancient petroglyphs carved into the high rock walls. These carvings can be found near the middle of the wash and at its terminus, just below the picnic area. If you bring kids, they’ll have a blast exploring this easy section of the hike.

Landscape, Hikers, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Tucson Mountains, Foothills, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, ArizonaOnce past the picnic area (and a pretty cool old stone miner’s hut tucked into the mountainside), the King Canyon Hiking Trail turns right, past a second wash, and ascends a number of stone steps. From here the trail begins to curve up and around the mountain foothills. For the next mile-and-a-half, the going is a steady, moderate uphill, flanked by Saguaros and brush.

Landscape, View, Two Hikers, Foothills, Wasson Peak, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Tucson Mountains, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, ArizonaAt a little under 2.5-miles, the trail reaches the crest of a middle saddle. Here views of Tucson suddenly spill outwards to the east. Its awesome being able to see for miles, both east and west from this vantage point, as well as upwards towards the encroaching summit of Wasson Peak. The Sweetwater Trail is accessible from this saddle (see downloadable trail map below).

Landscape, View, Hiker. Switchback, Wasson Peak, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountains, Tucson, ArizonaCurving left at the saddle, the King Canyon Hiking Trail ascends its steepest section – a series of 30-plus tight switchbacks. It then curves around the back of the mountain. From the pathway, a number of old, small, and now gated, mineral mines are visible.

Landscape, View, Hikers. Ridge Line, Wasson Peak, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountains, Tucson, ArizonaOnce around the back of the mountain, the trail crosses the ridge to a high-outcropping on the top of Wasson Peak. From the top, the views are astounding, spanning in all directions over Tucson, the Santa Catalina, Rincon and Santa Rita Mountain Ranges.

Landscape, View, Two Hikers, Summit, Wasson Peak, King Canyon Hiking Trail, Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountains, Tucson, Arizona, Total Nerdery

There are over 120 small, defunct mines spread throughout the Tucson Mountains. In the early 1900’s minerals including copper, silver, lead and garnets were drawn from these mines.


Click here to download a trail map. 

Directions: From I-10 (in Tucson) take exit #248 west / Ina Road and drive for 2.5-miles to Wade Road. Turn left / south onto Wade Road (which becomes Picture Rocks Road) and continue for 6.6-miles to Sandario Road. Turn left / south onto Sandario Road and drive 3.5-miles to Kinney Road. Turn left / east onto Kinney Road and continue 4-miles to the King Canyon Trail head parking lot (on the left side of the road across from the Sonoran Desert Museum).

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