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Sugar Loaf Mtn Maricopa Co, AZ

no permit
21 5 0
Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 1.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,301 feet
Elevation Gain 540 feet
Accumulated Gain 600 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 3.1
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
10  2014-01-26
Sugar Loaf to Verde / Needle Rock
11  2012-11-30 Hippy
Author johnr1
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 17
Photos 8
Trips 340 map ( 1,764 miles )
Age 72 Male Gender
Location tempe, az
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Jan → 11 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:31pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Look west Instead
by johnr1

This small peak doesn't get a lot of attention being located across from the much more interesting four peaks. However, after many trips to Payson and having seen four peaks under all sorts of conditions, the eye is drawn to the west where this interesting peak sits on top of a cliff guarded volcanic mesa. It draws the peak bagger and closet peak bagger to its summit with every drive by.

The trailhead is located as close to the peak as I could get decent access to the mesa. There are at least three other ways up but this one is the quickest and best.

Hike north along the jeep road from the one car parking place until you get to the gun range. The route then goes left (west) on a contour towards a small drainage. Light rock hopping along the east (right) side of the drain leads quickly to the top of the mesa.

If the gun range is in use, you may need to wait or perhaps discuss passage with the gun folks. A cold one might help secure the five minutes it takes to pass by and get out of range.

Once on top of the mesa, the route goes towards the right hand side (east) of the summit peak while skirting the drainages. There is easy hiking on the top with minimal rocks and just a bit of desert plants. This would be a snake active place at other times of year but I did not even see a single lizard in late October. Perhaps this has to do with the rather poor condition of the cactus that seem to have missed their summer water.

At the base of the summit, a little searching should yield a cairned route to the top. If you can't find it, just head up aiming towards the highest rocks and you should find it. There are interesting 270 degree views from the top with Four Peaks to the east, the supes to the south, fountain hills and the McDowell Mtn to the west. North is pretty boring although I think sheeps stands out.

The return route is retracing of your steps unless you find as did I that you are surrounded by active gun ranges. When I started at 8 am there was only one range active and it was half way to highway 87. When I reached the summit there were half dozen active including the one I had used to come up to the mesa. Looking at the Google Earth image, it seemed that the big drainage at the foot of the summit peak would lead back to the safety of the road while adding some information about this alternate route up. I followed the big drainage sticking to climber's left (east) and following numerous game trails. Eventually I got back to the road and had an uneventful walk back to my truck.

Many people may find this hike to be disturbing due to all the gunfire. I heard 22 cal, assault rifle, 50 caliber, shotguns and even a few sticks of dynamite in the short 3 hours this took. Being up on the mesa is pretty safe since the big cliffs provide nice solid back stop for the gun ranges. However, getting up and down from the mesa needs to be thought through and active ranges avoided.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2011-10-30 johnr1

    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 Review
    Sugar Loaf Mtn Maricopa Co
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Sugar Loaf to Verde / Needle Rock
    I've always wondered about the Sugarloaf exit across from the 4-peaks exit. This was one area that I've never explored.

    This was my first time using the HAZ route manager to create a route. I plotted a path from the bee-line to the Verde river. It used ATV trails 420, 1855, 1856 1096 and finally 160. I noticed that the route made a U around a canyon and a wash. I zoomed in and made a 'shortcut' route through the canyon and wash.

    Now the hike. There's an extra big trail head for ATV staging. Within 1 mile from the TH, there was three camps of people target shooting. The route curved around Sugarloaf mountain and dropped into the Sycamore creek. There was a couple of people camping down here. I checked out the gauging station and noticed a couple of motorcycles going down the 'shortcut" route. I continued on the main route and went around the Sheep Mesa to Lonely mountain. Then the trail got rough and nasty in some spots. Soon I was on ridge line looking West to the Verde. One the more distinct landmarks was Dynamite Road going into the Verde. That was the end of the road. I got to the Verde and found another road that lead to the Needle Rock area. There's a lot of cattle paths in the area. I went between the cattle paths and road over to the Needle rock area and had lunch there.

    I headed back and found another path to the a rock beach area by the Verde. Now it was a long slow climb out the Verde to Sugarloaf area. I contemplated taking the 'shortcut' route back. It was pitch black when I hit the intersection. The shortcut was a well-defined motorcycle path. I broke two of my nigh hiking rules:
    -don't night hike on a trail you don't know
    -don't night hike with water or water crossings

    I gambled that if the motorcycles can do this shortcut, I can do it in the dark.

    The motocross section started out with narrow trail/trench that went up and down / up and down very steep grades. Eventually it gave away to a hard pack wash that lead to the canyon with the Sycamore creek. The creek was dry at the first, but the water appear shortly and got deeper. I hit a choke point where I had to scrambles over a couple of boulders. The canyon's not that long and I made it to the Sheep camp without getting wet. The rest of the hike was just climbing out to the trail head.

    It was a long, but fun hike. There's a lot more to explore in the area. I'll be back.

    Pictures and routes will follow.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix area head north on SR87 towards Payson. Turn left(west) onto FR202 15.5 miles from Shea blvd in Fountain hills. Note that east (right) is the exit for four peaks. Head west on well maintained dirt FR202 1.3 miles to small saddle. The trail head parking is a right turn onto a jeep road at the point where the FR turns left. The junction is 33 41.795 -111 31.828
    page created by johnr1 on Oct 30 2011 7:23 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
    help comment issue

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