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Maverick Hill, AZ

Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.5 of 5 
no permit
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,241 feet
Elevation Gain 1,247 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,420 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.6
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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27  2016-05-27 AZHiker456
3  2009-03-19
Blackjack Spur Trail #568A
6  2009-01-16 PrestonSands
23  2008-04-16 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 Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Early
Seasons   Late Winter to Late Autumn
Sun  5:25am - 7:20pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 1994 Mule Fire5.2k

rustling up big views in the Big Lue
by PrestonSands

This hike follows what is known as the "Blackjack Trail" (trail #568), to the summit of 7488 foot Maverick Hill. Maverick Hill is the highpoint of Arizona's Big Lue Mountains. However, if the mountainous area that stretches from the San Francisco River near Clifton, Arizona, to western Grant County, New Mexico, is considered to be one continuous range, then the high point is Brushy Mountain, New Mexico at 7620 feet. Peak baggers can decide this one for themselves.

Those with high clearance vehicles can shave about 0.9 miles off of the round trip distance by driving to the pass between the campground and White Mule Creek and starting there. For this hike description, though, Blackjack Campground will be mile 0.0.

The hike begins at the Blackjack Campground, along highway 78. About 500 feet east and directly across from the campground entrance is a spur road that passes through an opening in the barbed wire fence, near a large dirt pile. Although unmarked, this is trail #568 (Blackjack Trail). Park at the campground, and start following the road (trail 568), which, after passing through the barbed wire fence, immediately turns north to parallel it.

After passing a cattle pond, the road makes a sharp bend to the right and reaches a pass among the tall pines. This is the end of the line for vehicles, as the road rapidly deteriorates into a lightly used ATV trail when it drops down the east side of the pass.

At 0.6 miles, the trail reaches the bottom of White Mule Creek and makes a sharp right to follow it upstream. At the 1.1 mile point (33.05619 N, 109.07065), the trail leaves the tall pines of White Mule Creek behind and makes a sharp left to climb a low ridge.

The trail stays at or near the top of a long ridgeline for the rest of the way, heading south and gently climbing through healthy pinyon pine forest. The bright greens of scrubby Chihuahua pines and occasional yuccas add to the interesting blend of southern and northern Arizona plant species.

As the trail reaches the 6674' hill, the trees part to reveal views of New Mexico's giant Mogollon Mountains and Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains. To the south is your first glimpse of pine-clad Maverick Hill.

After an enjoyable, roller-coaster stretch of ridgeline hiking through overwhelmingly green countryside, the easily followed portion of trail #568 comes to an abrupt end, just above the 6800-foot contour, around mile 2.5.

Officially, trail #568 continues, but from this point on, it is overgrown, washed out, and barely recognizable at best. The trail stays on top of, or barely west of the ridgeline for the rest of the way to Maverick Hill. In places where the trail was recognizable, I marked it with cairns. Following the route of trail #568, as shown on the topo map of the area, seems to offer the path of least resistance.

Continuing, the trail between the end of the ATV portion and the top of the 7025' hill is non-existent. Just stay on top of the ridge.

Approaching the 7242' hill, the trail reappears, then drops down about 50 feet below the ridgeline, on its west side, to bypass some low cliffs. This stretch of trail, from the west side of the 7242' hill to the saddle on its south side, is somewhat intact, although overgrown with brush in places.

From the saddle on the south side of 7242', you can pretty much follow the ridgeline straight up to the flat-topped summit of Maverick Hill. If you can find the trail and the cairns I built, all the better, but the trail soon vanishes among the low grasses near the summit.

Upon reaching the top, you will enter an open, grassy, park-like forest of ponderosa pines and ancient, contorted junipers. Head for the highest point (33.02646 N, 109.05774 W), where a summit register is located in a small glass jar in the shade of a juniper tree. To the east are views of New Mexico (less than a mile away) and the distant Gila Wilderness.

A few hundred feet to the southeast of the summit is an open spot (33.02611 N, 109.05733 W), on the south edge of Maverick Hill, where you can enjoy sweeping views of southeastern Arizona. A few rocks make this an ideal rest spot.

Return the way you came. The views are even better on the return trip.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-04-19 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 $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Blackjack CG Trailhead
From Safford, head east on Highway 70/191. 10 miles from Safford, the highway splits, turn left onto Highway 191 and follow it for another 23.75 miles to a (4-way) highway junction known as "3-Way" (old drive-in movie theater and store). Go straight at the intersection. You are now on Arizona highway 78. Follow highway 78 for approximately 14.4 miles, to Blackjack Campground, at milepost 168.9. Turn right and park at Blackjack Campground.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 212 mi - about 4 hours 4 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 177 mi - about 3 hours 6 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 299 mi - about 5 hours 23 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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