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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Rice Peak, AZ

83 12 1
Guide 12 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
2.8 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 8.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,290 feet
Elevation Gain 3,131 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,951 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 21.97
Interest Peak
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
4  2018-03-10 friendofThunderg
21  2018-02-18
Oracle Ridge Trail #1
15  2016-04-26
Pinal County Highpoint
15  2012-03-31
Oracle Ridge - AZT #12
18  2012-03-31
Oracle Ridge - AZT #12
10  2012-03-31
Oracle Ridge - AZT #12
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep
Sun  6:10am - 6:21pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
Rice Peak is a prominent bump along Oracle Ridge and the gateway to the easiest access to the Pinal County High Point.

NOT Pinal County High Point, see link above.

It can be accessed by driving a very difficult jeep trail from the Peppersauce Campground or it can be reached on foot from the same point, other spots along the jeep route, or from AZT#12.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • sub-region related

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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
Rice Peak
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I finally got this county high point out of the way and it really was not by design. Carrie and I had chosen Oracle Ridge as a hike to beat the 80 degree temps they were calling for in the lower elevations and it was not until I looked at the route when we got to the trailhead that I reallized Rice was along the way and at about five miles from the trailhead, it seems like the perfect turn around point.

This was my first time on this portion of the AZT and I was generally impressed. The trail was in pretty good shape and the views were nice. In particular, there are some nice views of the Pinalenos and Graham of course, eye sore telescope and all. Rice is not the most spectacular peak and the final approach is a road walk, but it was still a pleasant little spot to take a quick break. We returned the way we came, but did discuss a possible loop with Red Ridge and then were pleased to see there is a description for that in HAZ, so maybe another time for sure. We finished to some very rain.

**Edit. Well the lord giveth and the lord taketh. A pleasant hike to Rice Peak, but apparently not the Pinal County High Point.
Rice Peak
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Chris needed to start working Oracle Ridge Trail #1 off his 100 Hikes list. Wally was joining and Bruce wanted to hustle Cabin Boy 2 from Chris Elliott. A good lil' stats hike in an area we don't visit often sealed the deal.

Oracle Ridge Trail #1
Starts off through tall grass and catclaw. Lucily well maintained. Not interacting with the razor beast was dandy. A few nice examples of Cane Cholla in the first mile.

Lunched at the peak then headed back down. Apparently Wally and I got into a distracting conversation and missed a junction. This being such a straightforward hike I turned the volume on RS way down. A quick 700 feet straight down a steep road perched us over Chain Link Tank. Wow, how'd we miss that earlier and why is RS beeping off trail entering the prize water report sure to save countless backpackers grief?

Gee we're way off trail, good thing we're experienced hikers... back up the ridiculous grade. Ah there's our turn, whew! 10 minutes later, why are we still ascending??? Gasp we turned back up towards Rice

For the first time I recall we had to shake a leg to catch up with Stiller four miles down the trail.

Great to see Chris & Wally. I enjoy a good burn and it's nice to see fresh horizons. That said I would hike this often if I lived nearby, otherwise once every ten years is enough for myself.
Rice Peak
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The Approach:

After a quick morning in Sacaton, I decided to head for Mt. Lemmon. I've driven the back road off Lemmon to Oracle once before, but it was years ago, and I've never hiked on this side of the Catalinas. I know very little about the area.

With the goal of reaching the Pinal County Highpoint and the nearby Rice Peak, I did some quick HAZ research and saw some big climbs from the Peppersauce area. I also saw that there's actually a road all the way to Rice Peak that is open to all vehicles according to the FS MVUM. I had read online that the road can get a little bit rough near the top but my day had taken longer than planned and a 10+ mile hike was not in the cards with the amount of daylight remaining. So I decided to cut some of the mileage by driving the road.

Holy crap what an unexpected adventure! If you're into jeep roads, this one is a beaut! There is minimal rock crawling or climbing shelves or obstacles, but overall the road is ridiculously steep with some tippy exposure, and covered what is best described as scree. Loose rock that provided little firm traction and left my truck unable to ascend in 4-low without engaging the locker :)

I went down one hill so steep that I became concerned I wouldn't be able to get back up. There was a switchback so tight I had to perform a 7-point turn 100 yards ahead of it and approach it in reverse, only to continue uphill going forward. :)

Hiking, schmiking! This was a great drive! :y:

I finally reached the ridgeline (FR 4483) and the AZT. I drove up the ridge a bit before reaching a spot that I decided not to proceed beyond. It could have been done, but I would have preferred a spotter and another support vehicle. At this point, I was close enough to the peak it didn't justify anything riskier than I had already done.

The Hike:
With just under a mile to Rice, I started hoofing it up the road at about 4:30. Wow is this a steep section of road/trail! Finally above the switchbacks, the grade moderated before the final push to the summit of Rice, which is also very steep.

I found the benchmark, and then checked my GPS to make my way toward the county high point on the north slope. I followed an obvious use path to the northeast for a short distance before it disappeared and then had to cut back toward the ridge that would obviously be the highest point that crosses the county line. Checking the GPS frequently, I got close to where I thought it should be. Sure enough, about 30 feet to the north, I spotted a large pile of rocks with a bright red can housing a register sitting nicely on top! :y:

I looked at the register, and saw only one HAZ name in it... from 2005. A comment from one of the signers said "If only Rice Peak was in Pinal County! The efforts we go to reach COHPs is amazing!" :lol:

I was happy to find the cairn, signed the register, and then contemplated the route back to the road. I opted to head downhill rather than backtracking to Rice, and had managed about 20 feet before I decided to zip on my pant legs due to the obvious mess I was about to endure. Not more than 20 feet after moving again, I stumbled upon an old road cut that descended steeply down the ridge. I followed this down a while before realizing this old road was not going to get me back to my truck. At the correct contour, I turned west and traversed over to the main Ridge and my waiting truck. I was happy to have my pant legs on as pushing through the thick brush was difficult and very stabby. I don't recommend this to anybody.

Back at the truck, I skipped the summit beer with apprehension for the descent ahead of me. After studying topo maps carefully, I decided to choose a different route down (I'd almost always rather choose the known over the unknown, but the route I had taken up was one I didn't wish to return on). The ridgeline route on FS4483 was a better choice. By no means easy, pleasant, or other rosy adjective -- just a better choice than the road I had taken up the mountain (FS 4475).

A quick stop at Peppersauce Campground (nice place!) and I was on my way back to Oracle. Stopped at the Tom Mix Memorial, and still don't know who the guy was or why he has a memorial in the middle of absolutely nowhere! :-k

All in all, a pretty good day! :)
Rice Peak
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Started the day on top of Lemmon. Friend of mine, Fred, graciously gave us a ride to the top. Only made it as far as the gate next to the Iron Door Restaurant. The gate wasn't open, which meant our trip got an extra mile and a half in length. We hiked to the outhouse by the electrical substation, where we needed to start, and the guys needed all needed a potty break, so I took a quick jog to the top of Lemmon and back...then after these two little hikes, the hike REALLY began!

On the way up in doing segment 11 we took trail #5, so this time we took trail #5A back down to the Lemmon Trail. First time on the Wilderness of Rocks trail, really nice. Then to Marshall Gulch and up the road to Summerhaven for lunch. Denny and I decided to cheat and get a soda and candy bar before heading out ... nice!

After lunch in town we headed to the Oracle Ridge Trail, where things turned pretty scarred and ugly. Amazing after all this time, it is not bouncing back...not even grass coverage or anything on the ground, just all dead. Nice views on the ridge though, incredible views! The further down the trail we went, the better things looked though.

One nice thing about today is that I started the day climbing the highest peak in Pima County and that afternoon we all scaled the highest point in Pinal County, Rice Peak. The peak itself is still in Pima County, but the edge of the mountain is still higher than any other place in the day was a two-fer!

Denny was a little nervous about us hiking out in the dark, but we didn't need lamps until we turned onto the Cody Trail, and all went well.

And the most exciting thing about the day is that when we arrived at American Flag Trailhead, the 3 of us had the Arizona Trail finished from Mexico to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon completed!!! Awesome.

Surprised by seeing virtually no wildflowers all day. The only place we really started to hit even a few was on the Cody Trail...we saw them in our headlamps.

We're nearing the end boys...just 5 segments to go!
Rice Peak
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This was the Passage needed to fill in the missing gap. With the completion of this passage, we've completed 732 contiguous miles, stretching from The Mexican border to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We started this passage with mixed feelings. Our hiking partner, Joe, for the entire AZT to this point, at the last minute had to back out with an injury . :stretch:
Dave had already arranged for us to be delivered to the top of Lemmon by one of the members of his church, (Thanks Dave and Fred), so we were locked.

We already knew this was going to be a pretty long day @ around 24-25 miles with a sizable AEG (Even though we were starting at 9,100' and going down to 4,400'). To our surprise, the gate to the top, was closed at the restaurant, so we added another 1.5 miles and 700' of AEG.

The weather was perfect most of the day. There were small patches of snow remaining at the top, but nothing on the trail. It did get a little warm in Wilderness of Rocks, but nothing too bad.

We all tried doing our best Joe imitations and jokes to mimic him being there, but when Denny busted into the classic "Cinder a Letter", we knew it was a lost cause.

Highlights for me on this hike was the Wilderness of Rocks trail. I'll never tire of all the unique bolder formations and running water. The Marshall Gulch Trail was sweet, as well as the views from Oracle Ridge are nothing to sneeze at.

Low lights included the 70 plus trees we had to hop over or go around on the way to lunch at Summerhaven, and the 40 more from there to the North TH at FR38. Also the Oracle Ridge trail can be loose, Rocky, and steep in places. No place for someone with a bum ankle.

We took a short (Steep) side trip to Rice Peak to enjoy the views for a moment.

Turning off the Oracle Ridge Trail and on Cody for the final push we donned our headlamps. A little over an out in the dark later and we were to our ride home. Dave had placed a car the previous day. :)

A huge thanks to Dave for getting the whole shuttle thing set up : app : and to his friend Fred for taking us to the top :y:

Get that ankle healed Joe Joe

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

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page created by joebartels on Jul 10 2010 3:57 pm
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