The trail to Pusch Peak from the west (the Northwest Side Route) is nicely documented in this blog post by Dave Baker – but, like most destinations, there is more than one route to the top! One other option is the ‘Southeast Ridge Route’ described in “The Santa Catalina Mountains: A Guide to the Trails and Routes” by Pete Cowgill and Eber Glendening (this guide has been out of print for years, but it is a great resource and we try to keep a copy on our map table!). I believe this route sees less use than the Northwest Side Route – perhaps with good reason since there is no shortage of Cholla and Shin Daggers and no trail to speak of – but for most of the route you hike along lovely ridges with great views, perhaps worth the challenges…
This hike is in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness area – two restrictions to be aware of: travel more than 400 feet off trail is forbidden January thru April (this hike is almost entirely off-trail – Pusch Peak is ‘closed’ during that time period) and dogs are not permitted on the trail (except seeing-eye dogs or handi-dogs).
This is an off-trail adventure – while there is no difficult scrambling there are plenty of unfriendly plants, no trail, steep cliffs and loose terrain – if you are considering this hike please carefully consider the challenges.
Parking for this hike is the Iris O. Dewhirst Pima Canyon Trailhead located at the end of Magee Road. While in the parking lot take note of a large outcropping of rock on the skyline – this outcropping is a valuable landmark. Start hiking along the Pima Canyon trail.
Note the large outcropping of rock.
Near mile .5 begin to look for a chance to head north, off the Pima Canyon trail, up the hillside and onto a ridge leading up to the large outcropping. While there are some unremarkable sections on (and up to) this ridge there are also some very beautiful sections!
Heading up the ridge with the large outcropping in the distance.
A great, but short, section of the ridge up to the large outcropping.
At mile 1 you will still be below the large outcropping. As you get closer to the outcropping the ridge will become less distinct (you may find a faint trail…) and you should look for the easiest path towards the right side of the outcropping. As you come around the outcropping you will see a beautiful – but Shin Dagger filled – hillside, this is a great spot to take a break before heading up to the ridge.
Looking back on the large outcropping from the hillside above.
Once you have climbed the hill and are up on the ridge you will have a great view of Pusch Peak. Take the path of least resistance along the ridge towards point 4920 (you can contour around or head to the top of 4920).
The view from the top of 4920 – Table Mountain, The Cleaver, The Tombstone, Rosewood Point – I think the view here may be even better than the view from Pusch Peak!
From 4920 continue following the ridge as it turns to the northwest towards Pusch Peak. The higher you go the more spectacular the ridge becomes. At 2.4 miles you will be at the top!
USGS marker at the top of Pusch Peak.
Looking back down the ridge.
A glimpse of Table Mountain from Pusch Peak.
From the top you can reverse the route up and head back to the trailhead with a total mileage of approximately 4.7 miles and just over 2300 feet of elevation gain/loss.