Hugh Norris Trail to Wasson Peak, Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Hugh Norris Trailhead, Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Hugh Norris Trail to Wasson Peak - 9.8 miles

Saguaro West - Tucson Mountain District: Hugh Norris Trailhead

The Hugh Norris Trail is named after a widely respected Tohono O'odham police chief

The Hugh Norris Trail is named after a widely respected Tohono O'odham police chief

Round-Trip Length: 9.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,580' - 4,687' (4,687' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,107' net elevation gain (+2,445' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Hugh Norris Trail to Wasson Peak - 9.8 Miles Round-Trip

The Hugh Norris Trail is the Tucson Mountain District's longest trail, and most popular choice for reaching Wasson Peak (4,687'). Wasson Peak was named for John Wasson, an editor of the Tucson Citizen and unlikely appointee to the surveyor general office of the Arizona Territory in 1870. The trail is named for Hugh Norris, a widely respected Tohono O'odham police chief.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

This moderately-strenuous trail passes through several distinct biotic communities with rangy views across open desert and the Tucson Mountains. Hikers will enjoy varied landscapes and diverse terrain en route to the district's highest point.

Arrive early to secure limited parking spaces and avoid crowds. The trail is fully exposed to sun and heat; watch weather carefully and descend from open ridges and summits when storms develop:

The trail heads east and rises quickly through a tall saguaro forest and ecologically rich drainage hemmed by steep ridges. Teddy Bear Cholla are particularly abundant in this area. Switchbacks moderate through 1 mile with views of Avra Valley (west) and the distant Sawtooth, Silver Bell, Ragged Top, Waterman and Roskruge mountain ranges.

Much of this land falls within the Ironwood Forest National Monument, a 129,000 acre refuge designated in 2000 by President Bill Clinton for the preservation and study of Sonoran Desert ecology.

The trail reaches Wasson Peak's narrow west ridge after a methodical 2 mile climb, where it oscillates between the north and south side for the next 2.5 miles.

Travel eases through 2.25 miles (3,660') and drops gently into a saddle at the Sendero Esperanza Trail junction (2.7 miles : 3,610'). The trail climbs past the Sendero Esperanza junction on moderately steep switchbacks at 2.9 miles.

The landscape transitions from Desert Scrub and Grassland to Chaparral (3.5 miles), where saguaro give way to grasses, yuccas, jojoba and various shrubs not found lower on the trail. Ocotillo, prickly pear, mesquite, cats claw and various cholla also thrive in these high open spaces.

At 4.2 miles (4,300') the trail climbs steep, rocky switchbacks to the Kings Canyon Trail - Sweetwater Trail junction (4.6 miles : 4,566').

Amole Peak, often misidentified as Wasson Peak early in the hike, sits just off to the north of this challenging segment. The Hugh Norris Trail continues .3 miles to Wasson Peak (4.9 miles : 4,687').

Sweeping panoramas from the summit include Brown Mountain and Golden Gate Mountain (4,288') to the south, and the Rincon and Santa Catalina mountain ranges to the east. Mount Lemmon (9,157') - one of the Tucson area's tallest mountains - can be seen to the east on a clear day.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N32 16.290  W111 12.190 — Hugh Norris Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • The Hugh Norris Trail and Wasson Peak summit are fully exposed. Carry adequate water and sun protection.
  • Get an early start! This is a heavily used trail, parking is limited and afternoon thunderstorms can develop with little warning.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Backcountry camping is not permitted in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. Backcountry camping is permitted in the Rincon Mountain District (east of Tucson). Reservations and permits and can be obtained at the visitor center.

Directions to Trailhead

The Hugh Norris Trailhead is located on Bajada Loop Drive, 3.5 miles north of the Red Hills Visitor Center in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park.

From Tucson, take Speedway Blvd west (it will become West Gates Pass Road) and continue west to Kinney Road. Turn right onto Kinney Road and follow it past the Desert Museum and Red Hills Visitor Center until it intersects with Hohokam Road.

Turn right onto Hohokam Road (also known as the Bajada Loop) and continue to the marked Hugh Norris Trailhead on the right hand side. Worth Noting: The Bajada Loop is made up of Golden Gate Road (top half of loop) and Hohokam Road (bottom half of loop).

Contact Information

Saguaro National Park: Tucson Mountain District
27 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743

Trip Reports

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