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Maverick Hill, AZ

no permit
59 8 0
Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.5 of 5 by 2
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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 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 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  5:58am - 6:26pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
rustling up big views in the Big Lue
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
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 actually 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 ridge line 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 ridge line 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 ridge line 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 on, 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 ridge line, 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 just follow the ridge line 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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Maverick Hill
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Took Coal Creek to the NM boundary then back. No water flowing which was a bit surprising given all the recent monsoon rain in the area. Wet forest, but dry creek ...
Next was my first hike up Maverick Hill. Made it just 2 miles up before the heat, humidity & threat of more storms had me headed back down ... will be back to finish this one another day.
2 beautiful forest trails, a couple stops at the campgrounds & the always scenic drive to and from and I was happy with my Monday choices!
Maverick Hill
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On Sunday afternoon I headed to Black Jack Campground after hiking Coal Creel earlier in the day. Mike and I began the final cactus search of the day, and succeeded after quite a bit of looking. We turned around late in the afternoon at the end of the atv trail portion. High winds made for limited visibility of the surrounding mountain ranges as a cold front pushed its way through. Back at the trailhead at dusk, it was quite cold. Mike headed back to Coal Creek for the night while I began my trek west, intending originally to camp atop the Pinalenos. With the high winds and cold air, I drove to Clifton instead, where I reloaded on supplies at the Morenci Bashas. Took a side trip to the open pit overlook (which was closed) on the Coronado Trail, then worked my way back to Clifton doing night photos along the way. Around midnight the need for sleep had arrived, so I drove up the San Francisco River road and camped with the bats for the night near Evans Point. Monday morning I had a swim in the still chilly Frisco, then drove back into Clifton to visit a friend. I always look forward to Greenlee County visits. Another Preston "happy place".
Maverick Hill
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First time in the Big Lue Mountains for me this year, and it was a pretty place to exercise. I watched snow flurries float over the Mogollon Mountains and the Blue River area, but where I was it was just wind and puffy clouds. Only a few tiny puddles of water remained in White Mule Creek.
Maverick Hill
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Another after work hike to the end of trail 568A, for some exercise and cactus study. I turned south on the way back to follow trail 568 (Blackjack Trail) to the 6674' hill. Snowy looking plumes drifted down from ragged clouds onto the Mogollon Mountains on this unusually cold Spring day. Nice little hike.
Maverick Hill
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After work hike. I hiked to the end of trail 568A, enjoying absolutely PERFECT spring weather, and studying specimens of the mystery cactus along the way. On the way back, I turned south at White Mule Creek to follow trail 568 (Blackjack Trail) aways, to get a bit more exercise. The ponderosa resin smelled especially sweet today in the cool canyon bottom. Enjoyed a great sunset at my 6674' turnaround. Most of the snow appeared to be gone from the high peaks of the Gila Wilderness. Didn't see anyone, as usual, but hauled out 18 beer cans and 3 bottles from some dirty pigs. :gun: So, my own personal mountain range is once again pristine. :D
Maverick Hill
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After a hellish week at work, I left early and drove up to my old favorite Big Lue Mountains to escape from humankind and its obligations, deciding upon a short hike on the Blackjack Trail towards Maverick Hill, as the afternoon was getting late. I had a stress relieving hike through snowy patches and pleasant pine woodland, counting specimens of the area's unique cactus specie, and searching for new areas to explore. I turned around near the end of the atv portion of the trail at sunset, after watching the last rays of light turn the Mogollon Mountains a deep purple. I'm not sure what it is or how to describe it, but I feel very much at home in these mountains. Great hike!
Maverick Hill
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After picking up a topo map which showed trail 568 extending all the way to the top of Maverick Hill, I was anxious to go up there. The Big Lue Mountains had not disapointed me yet :) I took a day off of work, put on my new Columbia boots, and drove up to Blackjack Campground. I was treated to beautiful skies, and warm, windy weather, plus I had the area all to myself (no surprise there, people just don't care to drive from big cities to B.F.E., where I live :lol: ). I enjoyed some nice hiking and almost continuous views from the ridgeline. The Mogollon Mountains (one of the coolest ranges ever) seemed so close! I made great time...until the trail dead ended a mile short of the peak. Continuing on, I eventually found what was left of the trail: jack squat! Seems to be typical of forest service trails, these days ](*,) After a fair amount of effort, I arrived on top of Maverick Hill. So, was there going to be a register on top of the peak? Yes. Not on what was the true summit (according to the map, anyway), but a few hundred feet east. I became the 5th person to sign the log, being the first person since 1998. This is what I mean about living WAY out in eastern AZ! After that, I found a nice little viewpoint, and sat down to eat a quick lunch in the increasingly strong wind. After continuously finding and then losing the "trail" on the way up, I was able to follow it pretty well on the way down, mapping it as best as I could with my gps, and building cairns. I stopped to examine the unusual hedgehog cacti I had been seeing, and came to the conclusion that they were Echinocereus viridiflorus, probably subspecie Chloranthus. I didn't think they grew in Arizona (I 'm sure most people don't give a crap, but I love cacti!)
Made great time coming down. After a stop at Phillips Tank to examine a pool of water below the dam (orange and gooey, with a hint of black filth), I arrived back at my truck. I drove to the south end of the campground, and tried to find a way down to the bottom of Black Jack Canyon's upper box. The vegetation was dense, but I could see a ridge heading for the bottom. The only problem was that it looked like there were drop offs. "Okay, that's good enough for me. I don't feel like dying today", I thought. The edge of the canyon there is insanely steep! I returned to my truck, opened the ice chest, and kicked back on the tailgate, enjoying the cool wind and the view down Black Jack Canyon. I love this place!

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
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