Mexican poppies blanket Picacho Peak State Park

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PICACHO, Ariz. -- Anyone who has driven along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson has passed Picacho Peak.  The many drivers who never stop are missing out on experiencing Mother Nature’s true beauty.  This time of the year is an especially wonderful time to make the detour.
The recent weather conditions have been ideal for a full bloom of the Mexican gold poppy. The flowers are already scattered throughout the Picacho Peak State Park, but it is just a taste of what is to come by mid-March.

“What you see (in February), as good as it is, it will continue to get better for the next 3 to 4 weeks, as long as it stays in the 70s,” states Aaron Soggs, Picacho Peak State Park manager.

“But I encourage everyone to come out and see what it is right now, because it's guaranteed you'll see it now," he said. "In the future, if the weather changes, there's no guarantee. So definitely come and enjoy it now, and come out when it gets even better.”

Soggs says in the next few weeks the hills  throughout the Picacho Peak State Park are filled with Mexican poppies, but they will peak at full bloom soon.

"It only happens only once every eight years in this abundance," he explained. "So it's not an uncommon event, but it's not a common occurance, so it's a great thing to come out and see once it happens."

There are three trails at this state park, all scenic and blanketed with flowers. The Nature Trail leads you through the bottom bowl of the park. Additionally, there are two other trails that take you to the very top of Picacho Peak: Hunter and Sunset Vista.

"It's spectacular," Sogg said. "On a clear day you can see all the way from Tucson to Phoenix."

Besides hiking, there is a play area for kids. Shaded ramadas provide plenty of places perfect for a picnic.

Rangers say the hikes that take visitors to the top of Picacho Peak are similar to difficulty level at Camelback Mountain. They reccomend you bring snacks and plenty of water.

There is a special event at the park next month March 21-22.  There will be a re-enactment of an Arizona Civil War skirmish: The Battle of Picacho Pass. Activites will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Picacho Peak is a little more than an hour south of Phoenix along I-10. Take exit 219 for Picacho Peak Road.