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Picketpost - Eastern Approach, AZ

no permit
72 8 0
Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior SW
3.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,749 feet
Elevation Gain 1,614 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,646 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.73
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
21  2011-12-24
Picketpost Mountain Summit
30  2011-12-21 CannondaleKid
42  2011-12-19 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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
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by CannondaleKid

When hiking Picketpost on the normal route from the trailhead just off the US 60 you get a 1.5 mile warm-up before the 1 mile climb to the plateau. Not from the east... The drive to the TH will be challenging enough for most hikers then you barely have a 100 yard warm-up before beginning the roughly .9 mile climb to the northeast corner of the plateau. Your route will vary and very likely you will seek an easier route on the return so your route selection skills will be put to the test. While I did not successfully make the summit on my first attempt, I know the route is doable. I was within 300' of altitude of the horsehoe cross when I had to turn back due to weather fast-closing to the point I could not see 20' ahead. Another attempt is coming very soon, when I will also try a completely different (and steeper) return route.

Picketpost from the west is something any hiker in decent shape can do... Picketpost from the east? Well this one will separate the men/women from the boys/girls. You'll need good climbing skills (no ropes!) and plenty of stamina along with a willingness to travel up steep and at many times loose terrain that may slide with no prior warning. But for those who consider themselves worthy of a challenge (albeit a short one) it's a great way to see and experience awesome views from a completely new vantage point.

If you enjoyed the 4x4 drive to this trail head, I'd recommend you continue on FR 4 all the way across to the east past Ajax Mine and out on SR 79 about 5 miles south of Florence Junction. (If you take this route you will need an Arizona Land Trust Access permit)

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

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

2011-12-20 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
Picketpost - Eastern Approach
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In-laws in town to watch kids while we got away for a night. Stayed in Mesa. Had dinner and drinks for the first time at AZ Wilderness and loved it! Next morning drove to hike Picketpost. I should have read more and researched more. The hike was a cluster-F. Not even sure how I got up/down without some sort of injury. Tons of scrambling and slipping. I stuck with another group going up and merged with two other groups coming down. None of us knew what the F we were doing. Or maybe there aren't trails - or I don't know - but I'll never do this hike again unless I'm with someone who knows how to get up efficiently and without risking injury. At the top - sat for a while ALONE - because Brad bailed long before the top. He kept slipping and just not worth getting hurt. I am mad at myself for not getting GPS route on phone or reading more or prepping more. Somehow I thought this was a well-traveled hike and couldn't be a way to "mess it up". So wrong.

brittlebush insanely pretty
Picketpost - Eastern Approach
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dont know if the distance is right or not we had 2 gps and they all gave us 2 different distances but they were both really close. This hike can be really steep and the ground is loose so watch your step. we went up one way and then came down a different way.the best way that we saw up was going up to a saddel and then you go to your left and work your way to the bottom of the cliffs were it was the flatest part of the trail , you walk a short distance along the cliffs and you look for a spot were there are sevral boulders you can climb up . when you get to the top you wil see the cross just to your left. you can go down this way but it can be a hard climb down . the way we went down was befor you get to the hill were the cross is if you look to the right you will see the ground sloping down and it is very steep you work your way down and to the left and walk along the side of the cliff again . watch your footing here a fall here could be bad. you will hit a littel hump you climb over and then there is a ravine on the other side . we took a right at the ravine and followed it almost all the way down the boulder hoping was a nice change .
Picketpost - Eastern Approach
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Two days after my aborted first attempt and the weather looks way more promising so I'm pretty confident this attempt will be successful. After all, I did more research, poring over maps, sat images, photos and previous GPS routes and cameup with three routes that may lead to success. :D

I stopped on Telegraph Canyon Road just past the second cattle guard, set up my tripod and took a number of full zoom photos to help with my route selection. After scanning the complete eastern face of Picketpost I realized one option is simply not feasible and the next did not appear much better so I fell back what I considered the best approach, which was the return route of my first attempt.

Prepping at the TH:
I'm laying everything out on the hood of the car to make sure I'm not missing anything before suiting up. Actually it didn't take as long as usual because I decided to go a bit leaner with 10 lbs less in my CamelBak than last attempt. Almost ready to go.

All of a sudden I heard what came to mind as a galloping horse but not knowing what it was or where it was coming from I didn't waste any time grabbing my camera, taking it out of its bag, flipping it to Movie and turning it on. But in that few seconds a huge coyote comes tearing out of the brush not 20' from me at full bore with a look that seemed it was desperately trying to get away from something.

Ok, so I figured if something is chasing it, I'd like to get a shot of whatever that would be and waited... and waited... nothing! Such high drama was over in seconds with nothing left to show for it. :(

Oh well, I'm here for the ascent, so let's get started:

1. No 100 yard warmup this time... barely a hundred feet and I'm climbing a steep embankment through ocotillo, prickly pear cactus, and cholla. But though the calorie burn starts sooner, once past the first 200' elevation gain the general route continues at a more reasonable and steady incline. This route was great! I got to the ravine choke point in 32 minutes, less than half the time of two days ago.

2. Immediately after the choke point comes the first real aerobic test... it took 24 minutes to gain 400' of elevation in less than 1000' of forward progress. Whew! :wlift:

3. After that I needed to stop at the small saddle and take in another 250 calories to fuel the next even steeper section.

4. Man! This is the killer... I thought the previous section of 4' up for every 10' forward was rough... This last section took me up 545' in only 827' forward progress... that's climbing up 6' 7" every 10' forward! :wlift: :wlift:

5. By the time I reached a sheer wall of 15-20' tall rocks ](*,) my arms and legs were both getting shaky from the effort, so although I was within 80 feet horizontally from my goal, the vertical 40 feet left to climb presented a bigger obstacle than everything up to that point. :scared:

6. So close, yet this section would require assistance of some kind... But I simpy did not have the energy to jump up 3-4 feet to grab onto what may not even be a stable hand-hold, let alone pull myself up with no footholds. It was decision time but in reality, being completely alone, the only rational decision was to give it up and head back down while I had enough energy to do that with some measure of safety.

7. Although let down by another attempt coming up short, the weather was great so I spent more time taking in the awesome scenery by sight as well as with the camera. The snow on Madera & Pinal Peaks was something I could not see two days before. The trip down passed more easily than I expected, of course I'd been up, down and up most of the route before.

8. Almost to the TH and my head is killing me... that's when I realized I had my Hero HD video camera still pressing against my forehead. What a relief it felt to take it off. Now that I think about it probably I should have taken a photo of myself with the square divot in my forehead to prove it. But then I ended up with over two hours of video.

I know, I know... nobody would sit through two hours of huffing and puffing so I only uploaded the last 15 minutes of the climb before turning back. For those who enjoy seeing/hearing someone feel the pain expending prodigious amounts of energy, have at it: ... ostP3.html

Ok, now I need to hike Picketpost the usual way and take a look down from above to see if there is a better way to do the last 80'. If so, I might look at doing a shuttle hike up one side and down the other to finally call this task accomplished.
Picketpost - Eastern Approach
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Ok, here it is... Picketpost East by the numbers:
1. Drive through mud, over cattle guard, up rocky hill, down steep rough and rocky hill, up another, over a high stepped cattle guard, down a bunch of boulder steps, up, down, up, down and you're at the TH. Or something like that...

2. I can't even see the base of the mountain and thus have no idea what route to start on, so I kept on driving for a few hours checking out every side road over a 3 mile radius.

3. Ok, a little clearing of the fog and I'm ready to start hiking. A hundred yards of warm-up then it's time to burn the calories... I'm following game trails as much as possible but no being the size of game I have to abandon each one much too soon.

4. Climb through a cholla forest at the same time as carefully placing each step so as not to slide back every other step on the loose gravel. Climb up boulders using every piece of brush available to gain purchase.

6. Traverse along a narrow ledge until it's time to do the real steep climbing. Not so much straight up since there are plenty of ledges, but the quick altitude gain is the killer.

7. Heavy fog has descended again and all I can do is keep checking my GPS to keep me going the overall direction as I have to continously pick out the best route for the next 20-50'. I see a ridge, hoping it brings me to the plateau... I get there and there's another... one more time and I know I'm within 300' of elevation from the white horeshoe cross I know is up there and it's hopeless, I have no idea where to find the path through the boulders.

8. Head back down before the heavy gray clouds roll in. In more of a hurry now I choose a different route that would probably cut a good 15-20 minutes off the climb. Yup, it's always easier to pick the fast route on the way down.

9. The final part of the route takes me through cholla (a different forest on the return trip), prickly pear, ocotillo and palo verde before I get back to the car.

10. I'm totally soaked through 4 upper layers, I have dirt all over me from the body slides and weirdly enough, my socks are the cleanest item although thoroughly wet as well since I was wearing my Teva's.

That's it for the hike... although aborted I feel it was successful because I know it can be done... and I'll be doing it soon, like in a day or two.

The drive after the hike again took me past Ajax Mine where I took some photos of the mine itself (instead of the mill as before) and the few tailings.

Video of a rough part of my climb is coming soon.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

To hike
Take US 60 east to Superior. Immediately after the first 45 MPH speed limit sign look on the right for Mary Drive. The street sign is faded almost completely but it is the first paved road heading south. Turn right and travel south on Mary Drive until you reach Superior High School and Mary Drive turns left. [b]Set your odometer at this point.[/b] Turn right onto Golf Course Road (adjacent to the Superior Fire Station) and continue south first on pavement which changes to dirt about 1 mile out. Stay on main road until a noticeable fork at 1.4 miles when you will turn right and immediately veer right at a smaller fork and continue on FR 4 ("4" is all that the sign is marked). Follow the road as it winds left, through the wide, low wash then winds right past a large 'shooting pit' and continue west. You will cross over a normal cattle guard then a short time later there is a stepped one requiring a bit more clearance, take your time over this one. In this area you will encounter a number of steep rocky up-and-downhills requiring careful tire placement but again with care a 4x4 with reasonable clearance can make it just fine. At a point [b]3.7 miles from Superior High School[/b] veer off to the right and park in the open area alongside the road. Begin your hike from here.
page created by CannondaleKid on Dec 20 2011 7:09 am
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