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Monday, February 1, 2021

Enchanted Peak


Rincon Peak (center) seen from ElGrupo Trail

From the Enchanted Hills Trails Park trailhead in Tucson, Enchanted Peak, a prominent, 2,795-foot hill, stands out to the northeast.  From this vantage point, its steep slopes appear insurmountable, yet the trails that lead to its summit are surprisingly manageable.  

The summit of Enchanted Peak

Occupying a 356-acre natural area within the east side of Tucson Mountain Park, the tiny parcel at the edge of suburbia packs in 7 miles of non-motorized use trails. 

A crested saguaro on the El Grupo Trail

Winding around the eponymous Enchanted Hills Wash, the interconnected network of trails showcases rich Sonoran Desert vegetation and huge mountain vistas. 
Tecolote Trail circles the base of the peak

There are many ways to enjoy trekking within the park, but, if you’re like some hikers, that peak will be an irresistible destination.  To get to the prize, begin by hiking east on the park’s arterial El Grupo Loop. 
The slopes of Enchanted Peak appear insurmountable

While the trails are well-designated with map posts, some junction signs are offset from the turnoffs, so pay attention.  Numerous shortcut trails and add-on loops lend themselves to customized treks, but if you just can’t get that peak out of your head, here’s the quickest route.

Fire 7 Trail approaches the base of the peak

Follow El Grupo to 1-mile through wide open country and boulder passages where an impressive crested saguaro stands just north of the trail.  Turn left onto the High Noon Trail, hike 0.3 mile, turn left and pick up the Fire 7 Trail which switchbacks up to the base of the peak. 

Tumamoc Hill seen from High Noon Trail

Where the trail meets the peak-circling Tecolote Trail, head right and hike 0.2-mile to the Enchanted Peak Trail.  This final, 0.3-mile path makes a sinuous ascent over bare rock and edgy clefts with outstanding views of high mountain ranges to the east. 

Stone passages are common on the route

For experienced hikers, the climb is only moderate in difficulty until the last few yards where it makes an abrupt and very vertical assault on the summit.  
Summit sign names prominent peaks

On top, an interpretive sign mounted on the small, rocky pinnacle shows the names, distances and heights of prominent mountains in the Tortolita, Santa Catalina and Rincon ranges visible on the near and far horizons.  Look for Mount Kimball (7,258 feet), Mount Lemmon (9,157 feet), Mount Bigelow (8,450 feet), Rincon Peak (8,284 feet) and nearby Tumamoc Hill (3,108 feet), all destinations near trails that get some serious height and present inspiration for more ambitious mountain adventures.
Tortolita Mountains seen from the summit trail

To complete this trek, descend and hike the opposite way around Tecolote Trail and El Grupo Loop or use the excellent signage to wander at will.

Park trails are well signed

LENGTH:  4.1 miles as described here

RATING:  moderate

ELEVATION:  2,479 – 2,795 feet (717 feet of accumulated elevation change)


From Interstate 10 in Tucson, take the Starr Pass Blvd. exit 259.  At the bottom of the offramp, turn right, follow Starr Pass Blvd. 0.5 mile and turn right on Mission Road.  Go 1.3 miles on Mission Road to 36th Street, turn right and continue 2.1 miles to the trailhead.

HOURS: the park is open daily from dawn until dusk. No fees.


Enchanted Hills Trails Park

3280 W. 36th Street, Tucson


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