Teva Joe's trail desc. is excellent, but I want to include some tips to make this trip a success. This is by far the coolest hike within 100 miles of Phoenix. If you live in AZ and don't do this hike, you are a loon :^)
This was our second attempt at Brown's Peak. Last attempt (November `01) was marred by fat-bastard-itis and an early turn-around time. If you're out of time, you're out of time.
Things you must remember when taking this hike:
You really need a 4WD vehicle to access the trailhead via FS #143. The 18 miles from State Highway 87 to the trailhead ranges from no problem to precarious. If you're in a regular vehicle, it'll take you 3 hours.
Remember to establish a good turn-around time
. It is approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours to the saddle, another hour (or more) to the top and then the same coming back down (if you plan on being safe).
Which brings me to my next point: the first 4/5ths of the hike is a piece of cake (assuming you are in good shape). The last 1/4 mile dash up the scree slope and granite faced walls takes nerves of steel, a good night's sleep and a calm demeanor. If you have a fear of heights or like to stop and smoke periodically, you may want to reconsider. Also, a passing knowledge of bouldering is handy, as there is that last sheer granite wall you have to scale.
Some people bring gloves. I don't use them.
If you can, plan to spent as much time at the top (durrr). If I could get away with it, I'd build a fort up there. Heh.
Also, if you decide to take the alternate route down the backside (instead of throwing yourself down the scree chute . . . how one survives that I'll never know) make sure you actually determine where the trail starts, since we followed what looked like a trail but it turned into my imagination and then we spent the next 90 minutes cross country down a steep slope with ankle-twisting rocks in heavy vegetation followed by a foray into Jurrasic Park. Heavy trees, etc. Not good. A trail would have been nice. Even a possum trail.
Again, it's always a personal decision whether to continue with a hike if it seems dangerous. I just kept thinking about all the old-timers who scurry like mice up to the top, so I figured, "if they can do it, so can I!"
But, you really need to have nerves of steel.