If you’re acrophobic or an inexperienced hiker, you’ll want to give Hunter Trail a pass. Instead, saunter the first two miles of Sunset Vista Trail (before it joins Hunter Trail). This route through the foothills is spectacular in spring, when it blazes like a sunset with orange and yellow Mexican poppies. For even more leisurely options, the park offers three roughly half-mile paths, including the Nature Trail, dotted with interpretive signs about flora and fauna, and the Children’s Trail, which leads to a mountainside cave. On any of the paths, keep an eye out for jackrabbits, coyotes, and—on rare occasions—bobcats, mule deer, and kit foxes. Birders can pick up a guide at the visitor center to help identify the park’s abundant resident and migratory avian species.
As you hike, you can ponder the people who’ve seen these stunning views throughout history. From about 750 to 1450, Picacho Peak was home the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People who lived throughout the region. In what is now Phoenix, these skilled hydraulic engineers constructed the largest system of canals in the Americas north of Peru. In the Picacho Mountains, the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People created more than 4,000 petroglyphs—images of snakes, swirls, people, and more, that can still be seen today.