Tumamoc Hill • City of Tucson
• Pima County

Sign at the start of the hike

The lower complex of buildings

The guys at the summit area

Me, too

View of Tucson, with Agua Calient Hill in the background, and Mica Mountain's summit to the right

Montage: UL: south summit area, UR: Mica and Rincon, LL: Pusch Ridge and Kimball Peak, UR: Zoom of Safford Peak

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Prominence Peaks


Date: November 22, 2015 • Elevation: 3,110 feet • Prominence: 628 feet • Distance: 3 miles • Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes • Gain: 630 feet • Conditions: Clear and warm • Teammates: Scott Peavy, Scott Casterlin & Matthias Stender

Tumamoc Hill is located in Tucson, west of downtown and not too far from Interstate-10. The peak is part of a research facility run by the University of Arizona. It is not a public park, but the road to the top is open weekends and at off-hours during the week. It is a very popular hike, with many hundreds hiking it daily when the weather is nice.

I was unaware of the access restrictions when I first tried to hike the peak this past April. I salvaged that morning with a smaller hike up Sentinal Peak nearby. Tumamoc Hill is not necessarily on my short list of peaks, but I wanted to hike it if I happened to be in the area and had the extra time.

Scott Peavy, Matthias Stender and I convened earlier today and drove south into Marana, planning to hike Safford Peak. I let Scott Casterlin know and he joined us for that hike, which went very well. We were off the peak by 11 a.m., so Scott Casterlin suggested we hike Tumamoc Hill, since it's short and close by. We agreed, so we convoyed a few miles, parking along the road at the north base of the peak, near St. Mary's Hospital. We started the hike at 11:45, the day becoming rather warm for late November.

The hike simply follows the narrow paved road to the top, a gain of about 630 feet in a mile and a half. The road makes long sweeps and is ptched at a gentle grade at first, then steeper the higher up. About half-way up, the road passes through a small complex of buildings. There is a drinking fountain here and a Port-a-John, which is nice because there are too many people on this hike in the event of needing to answer the call of nature.

The final couple switchbacks is fairly steep, but we all kept a consistent pace, and were on top quickly, a 35-minute ascent. The top is flat, covered in volcanic boulders as is the whole mountain (it obviously being volcanic in origin). There are more structures up here, ranging from big towers and substantial buildings, to littler trailers, and what looked like small observatories. I have to admit, the top was rather ugly.

The summit area consists of two regions enclosed within 3,100-foot contours (20-foot intervals). The road ends at the northern region, while the southern region has a 3,108-foot spot elevation marked in it on the map. However, I felt that the higher rocks were here at the north region, two in particular around the back of the first trailer-structure. I water-bottled leveled to the south region and it came in lower. My opinion is that the higher ground is here on the north region. The signs said that the public cannot proceed past the pavement, so we did not, and felt no need to.

The hike down went well. The views were very good, given the day's clear conditions. We could Tucson all around us, plus the various mountains that surround Tucson, including this morning's peak way off to the north. We were back to the cars after a half-hour. Here, we said goodbye to Casterlin and the three of us returned to the Phoenix area, another successful day on the desert summits.

(c) 2015 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.