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Peak 2939 via Battle Axe Rd, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior S
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 3.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,972 feet
Elevation Gain 967 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,000 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.5
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
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50  2016-03-06 CannondaleKid
41  2011-11-22 CannondaleKid
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,503
Trips 1,903 map ( 15,629 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Apr, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:23pm
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'Tween the (Battle) Axe & The Spine
by CannondaleKid

Overview: Ever since I first laid eyes on this mountain it seemed to mesmerize me. With a very distinctive shape and surrounded mostly by sheer cliffs I wanted to scale it... no, not directly by scaling the sheer cliff walls but rather by hiking up one of the less steep apprpoaches. With no name other than the Peak 2939 moniker I gave it, how would anyone know where it is? Well, it's located between The Spine and Battle Axe Mountain just south of the White Canyon Wilderness.

If you have a very capable high-clearance 4x4 you will be able to drive all the way to where I started the hike if you take Battle Axe Rd around Battle Axe then take Walnut Canyon Rd to the second wash then turn back NE to the TH. If you have a stock 4x4 and don't mind an Arizona pinstripe or two you can access it by driving down a wash from the cattle pens just off Battle Axe Road within a few miles of SR 177, however that will add 1.5 miles of hiking to the round trip.

Warning: Vehicle: You will need a capable high-clearance 4x4 and capable driver to approach the TH from Walnut Canyon Rd.

Trail: There is none so if you don't use the GPS route I uploaded, you will pretty much be on your own in selecting your route. Some areas are very steep and the ground shifts easily but other than when looking over the cliffs from the top there isn't much exposure.

Hike: From the wash you will begin by hiking up an old, unused-in-years road for about .25 mile (which is where I parked my Samurai) where it abruptly changes and becomes fit only for rock-crawlers or hikers on foot willing to boulder-hop for another .2 mile. While there was one spot slightly sooner than where I turned off the road to start the climb, it was very narrow and appeared to be full of brush of the thorny variety. So I continued just a bit farther to a point just over .4 mile from the wash before hanging a left and climbing up what I'd describe as a small embankment.

From there it's just a matter of scanning the upward slope for what looks easiest or most appealing to you. Some may stick to easier slopes with plenty of brush, where I tended to seek more open but slightly more treacherous ground. Not sure on the first trip exactly how I could reach the summit, once I saw a large cave at the base of the cliff and it appeared there was a cleft just past it that I hoped would take me to the top, I set a beeline for the cave. Unfortunately, once I got there and looked around the corner it just turned out to be a much taller cave. Ok, so I'll have to backtrack and look for another way up. No big deal... I decided to sit down and enjoy a wonderful view of the full length of The Spine, which we climbed just last week. (When I decided Peak 2939 couldn't wait much longer for me) While you could skip the caves and save some time and effort, I believe the views are well worth it the short detour.

Ok, time to get moving again, I'm out of the cave and moving back down along the base of the cliff until I could curve back west and then south for the climb to the summit. I didn't realize just how steep and how far I continued up toward the summit until looking back over the area later in the hike. But by taking it one step at a time I hardly noticed the effort. Again it's a matter of picking the route the suits you and as long as you follow the incline to the top you'll reach the summit. Along the way here you will have a few opportunities to look back down from above the caves where you were earlier in the hike. Once you are at the top of the first ridge and all along the way over to the highest point there are unending, jaw-dropping views of The Spine, Battle Axe along with a huge chunk of the Gila River Valley.

From the peak I headed westward to the outcrop I had taken photos of from Walnut Canyon Rd on the drive out. I had set a waypoint at the western-most outcrop but as I approached it I encountered a 20-25 foot drop to a very short saddle followed by a climb back up. So rather than spend the time finding a route to make that happen I continued my trek back east followed by a long arc to the farthest northwest point. But again as I got closer it was obvious if I didn't have climbing gear I'd have to backtrack some distance to drop down what would amount to one shelf, followed by some zig-zagging to drop down successive shelves before I reached the same height and continue to the NW "peninsula" followed by an "island" at the end. So with a few more planned waypoints yet to reach I headed eastward. Crossing two more high points on successive hills followed by walking out another peninsula to the east, all of which yielded their own unique views, I started my trek back. Where I went next I found out later was private land posted with no tresspassing I will simply leave that part out. I also edited my GPS track to return to the car by the way I had originally planned, but again you may wish to scan the terrain and choose your own route back to the old road.

While this hike is not very easy to get to, if you'd like great views of Battle Axe, The Spine, Gila River Valley and portions of the White Canyon Wilderness as well as being well off-the-beaten-path this hike is well worth it. Just remember, there is no trail so you'll get a chance to hone your path-finding skills. Although there are thorny patches here and there, for the most part they can be avoided by planning ahead. For me Teva sandals were the perfect footgear for the hike. Oh yes, one more thing... in warmer weather I'm sure there would be a number of rattlesnakes about. On this day, starting out at 50 degrees and never topping 65 I wasn't concerned about that possibility.

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2011-11-23 CannondaleKid
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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
Peak 2939 via Battle Axe Rd
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Tracey had never done this hike and it was over three years ago for my one-and-only so figured it was about time for a rerun. But feeling just a twinge from my foot after yesterday's hike along the Gila River we decided to take the less-steep route.

Unfortunately if I had only remembered this hike better (should have looked at my November 2012 photos before the hike) I would have done the whole thing again.
Still, it had plenty of great scenery of The Spine and Battle Axe in particular so it was quite enjoyable.

Along an ancient and long-unused (for mine use anyway) road I was a bit surprised by how much evidence there was of recent rock-crawling activity. More than a few boulders rose 5-6 feet above the wash yet the crawlers had gone right over.

On the return leg we dropped down into the wash below the north end of The Spine before and continuing back around to the Jeep. As we began the drive out we hadn't gone a few hundred yards before spotting a Gila Monster in the wash so of course we had to jump out for photos and video.

I hadn't done much video with my GoPro in some time so thought I'd shoot a video of the trip from the wash up Walnut Canyon Road south of Battle Axe Butte.

Two videos:
00:38 - Gila Monster in the wash (3rd sighting for us this year)
25:34 - Four-Wheeling up Walnut Canyon Road (in-the-shadow of Battle Axe)
Peak 2939 via Battle Axe Rd
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Having done a number of 4x4 recon trips 2/3 the way around Peak 2939 it had already caught my eye and I wondered where the best (easiest) approach would be started from. Then with the great view we had when Tracey and I were hiking The Spine last week it looked very doable from the eastern side. That's all it took and I made plans to conquer it. Never did I think I'd be climbing it so soon, but by hiking it solo I didn't have to wait long.

For me now, this is probably the tenth time driving out Battle Axe Rd so it wasn't long before I was turning off onto Walnut Canyon Rd. With two trips down and two trips up the road again it wasn't long and I was cruising in the last wash to the TH. I was about to say it went smoothly, but that would be far from the truth... the trip down will definitely rattle your cage.

At the point I've designated as the trail head I turned out of the wash and drove up the ancient road, literally through a tree until I reached the end-of-the-road. Maybe rock-crawlers would be able to venture on, but as capable as My Sammy is now I wasn't about to push it. Besides I was here for the hike, not rock-crawling.

With a quick check of my gear, strapping my Hero HD video camera to my forehead and turning it on I was on-the-trail, if you could call it that. I filmed the first hour of my climb (just up to the cave area) in 15 minute segments and hope to post them on YouTube soon. Within 600' of the start (more like .4 mile if you start in the wash) I climbed an embankment to the left and began the climb in earnest. It wasn't long before I came upon and almost stepped on a Tarantula. In my attempt to make sure I got it on video the two still photos I took with my other camera didn't come out well so neither was posted. I guessed that was possibly the case, but again, I'm not out here for Tarantulas so I continued on.

Although I had mapped out a route based on topo maps as well as views from The Spine last week, it still demanded plenty of thought to choose the route once on-the-ground. But with careful attention to the terrain and how it fell away I felt confident in my route. Once I caught a glimpse of the large cave I changed my tack slightly to make sure I got a chance to check it out. In the end the cave had little of interest but by going that far I saw what appeared to be a shorter albeit steeper route to the peak. It wasn't, just a tall cave, but it was a great place for my first break with an awesome view of The Spine. Too bad my camera couldn't capture anything near what the eye could see, but at least I made the attempt.

Leaving the cave I headed NE along the base of the cliff wall until I could wind around to the other side of the narrow but tall ridge line and head up toward the peak. On the way up to the peak I climbed up at three spots to take photos to the east from 100' above where I had been 15 minutes earlier. The last short jaunt up toward the peak seemed anti-climactic as the 'peak' was simply a large flat area. A few photos and I continued on heading toward to the western-most outcrop. I couldn't reach the farthest point SW without the extra time to climb carefully down 30' and back up a steeper section, only to have to return the same way so I took some photos and moved on. From there I headed northward making an easy curve through a cholla forest toward the farthest NW point of the mountain. As I approached that point I realized it wasn't a place I'd reach on this day. Being solo it wasn't something I wanted to tackle, but with a revised route plan and having another hiker along I'll be back for another attempt. But no matter, even from here the view of Battle Axe was something to behold. From this vantage point I gazed intently on Battle Axe in hopes of finding a reasonable approach toward it's summit. I'm sure the summit is well past my capability, but it would be fun seeing how far I could go before the fear of heights took hold.

From that point it was a matter of wandering around the mountain seeking out different viewpoints in the attempt to capture even a hint of the awesome views to share with others. And possibly entice more people to check it out first-hand.

I'll break off from the rest of the details here because I found out later I had crossed through posted private land, and thus will not share what I wasn't supposed to see. Suffice to say I came upon a dead bull bloated almost to the point of bursting and with a river of maggots flowing out of its head. Whew! The SMELL! Oh but don't worry, although I will post a video at some point, luckily you won't catch a whiff of the retching smell I experienced filming it.

Finally back to the Samurai I just took enough time to stick the Hero HD to the windshield to video the worst part of the climb up Walnut Canyon Rd and set off for home. Being the 6th time traversing this road in one direction or the other I was able to avoid the worst washouts and make pretty good time... only an hour and 7 minutes to drive the 9 miles from the TH out to the Battle Axe/SR 177 intersection followed by an exactly equal amount of time to travel the 53 miles back home. Running premium fuel elicited no complaints from Sammy being pushed to average 75 mph from Gonzalez Pass to Gold Canyon with only 65-70 HP fighting against the wind with a straight-up flat brick of a windshield that creates every ounce of drag it possibly can along with the big off-road tires howling away. After the rest of the drive one can actually say the ride is smooth at that speed. All in all, My Sammy is quite capable on or well off-road.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

To hike
Take US 60 to the east end Superior, turn right (south) on AZ 177 and follow it to a point .9 mile PAST mile marker 159. Turn right (west) onto the dirt Battle Axe Road. Follow Battle Axe Road about 5 miles until you come to Walnut Canyon Rd at N33 09.031 W111 05.592. Turn left and follow Walnut Canyon Road (high-clearance 4x4 road) about 2.8 miles down a steep hill into a wash followed by another climb up and back down another steep and very washed-out road until you reach a wide wash at N33 08.004 W111 04.095. Turn left and follow the wash to N33 08.314 W111 03.780 where you can begin the hike. Or if you don't mind driving over some rocks and essentailly through a small tree you can continue driving up to the point I started the hike at N33 08.512 W111 03.795.

Alternate directions: (Adds about 1.5 miles to the hike but can be reached with a stock 4x4) Use the same directions to Battle Axe Road. Follow Battle Axe Road about 1.6 miles to the cattle pens at N33 09.567 W111 03.170. Turn left, drive past the cattle pens, over the cattle guard and continue on a very rutted road about 1.2 miles to N33 08.564 W111 03.296, which will be at the northern base of The Spine. From there you head out on foot westward winding through a wash that eventually will bring you to the hike starting point at N33 08.314 W111 03.780.
page created by CannondaleKid on Nov 23 2011 10:21 pm
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