Look west Instead
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.
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.
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