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Merrill Peak 9288, AZ

Guide 7 Triplogs Mine 0 0 Topics
3.3 of 5 
52 7 0
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 1.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,788 feet
Elevation Gain 504 feet
Accumulated Gain 523 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.87
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
23  2021-10-10
West - Blue Jay - Merrill
20  2018-06-27
Riggs Flat Campground
13  2016-07-17 AZHiker456
27  2013-08-01 outdoor_lover
12  2007-06-17 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,659
Trips 1,750 map ( 9,074 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Aug, Jul, Sep, Jun → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:30am - 7:22pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2017 Frye Fire48.4k
🔥 2004 Nuttall30k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
Nearby Area Water
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
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Pinaleno peak-bagging
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Merrill Peak, a 9288-foot peak on the west end of the Pinaleno Mountains, offers incredible views of the Sulphur Springs Valley and most of southern Arizona. Merrill Peak was named for Gerald Merrill, the forest ranger of this area during the early 1900s. This short, off-trail hike from Riggs Lake Campground to the top of the peak is relatively easy and makes for an excellent adventure if you are camping in the Riggs Lake area. Bring a topo map or GPS, and start early to avoid thunderstorms during monsoon season.

You can begin your hike anywhere in Riggs Lake Campground. If you start at the far west end of the campground, you'll have better views while hiking up, but at the price of scrambling over endless deadfall from the 1996 Clark Peak Fire. There is a shallow drainage near the east end of the campground that provides an easy route to the top. This route begins along the upper campground loop (32.70734 N, 109.96145 W). As you head up this shady, forested drainage, you may notice some carvings in the trees, as evidence others have used this route. When the drainage begins to fade near the top of the mountain, keep heading uphill in a southerly direction. Once you reach the top of the ridge, begin heading southwest, and stay high on the ridge. Grayish skeletons of burnt trees will mark the summit. Sitting in a small mound of granite rocks on Merrill Peak's rocky and lichen-covered summit is a register, placed there by the Sierra Club. This trail-less summit sees a fair amount of visitors. Several rock fins stick out over the peak's steep southwestern face, offering lofty, panoramic views stretching from the Chiricahua Mountains to the Santa Teresa Mountains. Riggs Lake and Blue Jay Peak are visible, though slightly obscured by the burned-out trees.

Head back the way you came, or head downhill and due west to the Jesus-Babcock Trail #321, and follow it north back to the Riggs Lake Campground.

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2007-06-22 PrestonSands
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Safford, head south on U.S. Highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow highway 366 (which turns into forest road 803) approximately 33.2 miles to the signed Riggs Lake turnoff. Turn left, pass the lake, and follow the one-way, paved campground loop road through the campground. About 1.27 miles down the campground road after turning off of the Swift Trail, there will be a faint, shallow drainage heading uphill to the right (GPS coordinates: 32.70734 N, 109.96145 W). This is where the hike description begins, but you can start this off-trail hike anywhere along the upper campground loop.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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