Love on Picacho Peak

Mare CzinarFebruary 1, 2018
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admiring SedonaPablo Moyano of Gilbert says it was “love at first sight” when he glimpsed Cierra Carrico at a hike meetup on March 11, 2017.

Carrico begs to differ. “Well, no. That day, I was only interested in hiking. But I did know it was friendship at first sight and that I had found a new hiking buddy!” she says. “I was really impressed that he had a first aid kit and helped fix my busted-up knee that I cut on one of the climbing cables that helps you get up Picacho Peak.”

Disparate memories notwithstanding, that mountain trek near Eloy marked the beginning of a trail-centric love story.  

The couple subsequently hit the trails together every weekend, favoring difficult routes like Siphon Draw-Flatiron, Picketpost Mountain and Camelback Mountain. But the peak where they first developed a bond holds a special place in their hearts. The Sunset Vista Trail climbs to the dizzying highpoint of Picacho Peak State Park with the aid of wire cables bolted into bare rock where the hike becomes a grueling vertical ascent. Gloves (and a first aid kit like Moyano’s) are recommended, as the slick rock can be tricky to navigate. Once on top, though, the sweaty haul pays off with vast views of a desert mountain landscape roughly halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.

nuzzling at Lost DutchmanAfter months of trail dating, Moyano bent the knee. “It happened kind of unexpectedly while we were vacationing in Colorado,” Carrico says. As a warmup to the nuptials, the couple will celebrate el día de San Valentín (Valentine’s Day, as it is known in Moyano’s native Peru) with a sunset hike and romantic dinner. The traditional wedding (with dress shoes) is planned for next month. The honeymoon will be sure to include – you guessed it – hiking.  

LENGTH: 3.1 miles one way
RATING: moderate-difficult
ELEVATION: 2,000-3,374 feet
GETTING THERE: Picacho Peak State Park. From Phoenix go south on Interstate 10 to the Picacho exit 219 and follow the signs to the park.
FEE: $7 per vehicle

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