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short, but sweet
Southeastern Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains are a large and rugged range that includes many unnamed peaks. While not the most prominent, the twin summits of an unnamed 9320-foot peak that sits on the ridgeline south of Heliograph Peak certainly are distinctive. I'll call the peak Twilight Peak for this hiking guide, as it is near the top of Twilight Creek.
While exploring the ridge that runs between 10,020-foot Heliograph Peak and Ladybug Saddle on a blistering hot Independence Day, I came across a route leading up to the rugged summit of Twilight Peak. After enjoying the views from its rocky little apex, I headed back down towards the Swift Trail highway, which contours along the ridge about 500 feet below. Expecting a rough bushwhack while heading down, I was surprised to come across an abandoned but obviously, human-made trail leading back down to the highway. This little trail came to an end at the upper trailhead for the Shake Trail #309. Perhaps this was an abandoned upper segment of the Shake Trail. Who knows.
If you have just hiked the Shake Trail and want to tack on a peak-bagging finale, this little hike is conveniently located. Or do it by itself if you're into peak bagging.
While the abandoned trail leads up to the ridgeline below Twilight Peak, this is basically an off-trail hike with route-finding required. Get off the peak quickly if thunderstorms are in the area!
At the pull-off area along the Swift Trail at milepost 132.4, which serves as the upper trailhead for the Shake Trail, several cairns are visible on the embankment on the uphill side of the road. I'm referring to the inside curve of the road. On top of the highest part of the embankment next to the highway, there is a big cairn and a piece of pink tape in a tree next to it. The abandoned trail begins here, heading north and paralleling the highway. This trail is quite faint, but you will notice spots here and there where rocks were stacked to build up the trail.
After about 0.3 miles of gradual climbing, the old trail makes a switchback (32.63280 N, 109.84050 W). The old trail now turns southeast, gets steeper, and disappears just before reaching the top of the ridgeline. Off-trail hiking isn't too bad here. Just head uphill until you reach the ridgeline.
There is a little rocky nub on the ridgeline between the 9312 point and the 9315 point (see map). The going is a little easier if you stay on the east side of it, up against the edge of the Nuttall Fire burn area.
On the south side of the little rocky nub, there is a small, open saddle. A ramp-like ridge heads south from this saddle to the top of Twilight Peak. Follow it up. The off-trail hiking is easy here due to fire crews cutting a fire line along the ridge top. Very soon, you'll be at the peak's bald granite summit.
Once you're on top, pull up a rock and take in the spectacular 360 degree views. There is a little register between some rocks here, so be sure to sign in. You are on the western summit, elevation 9320 feet. A rugged notch separates you from the 9315-foot eastern summit.
Enjoy, and don't fall off the top!
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