Named for a Native American police chief, the Hugh Norris trail takes you from lush (by desert standards) Saguaro and cholla forests to the top of rugged Wasson Peak. On top of the peak, you’ll have sweeping views of the city of Tucson, as well as the surrounding mountain ranges. Depending on your hiking speed this hike can be a full day commitment, but well worth it. The trailhead is located on a dirt road (Hohokam Road), but the road is well-maintained and fine for cars. There are 2 small parking lots at the trailhead.
Although a fairly long day-hike, the trail is not overly difficulty. There are just 2 sections with abrupt elevation change – one within the first mile of the trail, the other just before reaching Wasson Peak. The primary factors that can make the Hugh Norris trail a challenge are the heat and the sun. The trail is mostly on ridges and completely exposed to intense Arizona rays. For that reason, it is not recommended to hike this trail in the summer. If you hike it in the late winter/early spring, you have a good chance of spotting some desert wildflowers along the trail. Regardless of the season, bring plenty of water and sun protection.
If you can, try to time it so that you are finishing your hike near sunset. About 1 mile from the parking lot (at the top of the switchbacks at the end of the steep first section) there is a cluster of large boulders with a western-facing view. Choose your favorite, climb on top, and enjoy a front-row seat to a famous Arizona sunset. If you start back right after the sun dips below the horizon, you should have enough twilight to get back to your car before it is completely dark. In any event, the trail is well-marked and well-maintained and, with a flashlight, is easily navigable in the dark. As always when hiking in the desert (especially around dawn or dusk), keep an eye (and an ear) out for rattlesnakes.
- Hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes
- Headlamp or flashlight (for the return hike)