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Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH, AZ

no permit
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Guide 183 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson S
3.6 of 5 by 40
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 15.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,200 feet
Elevation Gain 3,928 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,108 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 9 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 36.04
Interest Historic & Peak
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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5  2019-05-25 wallyfrack
6  2019-04-16 JuanJaimeiii
16  2019-03-31 DixieFlyer
12  2019-03-19 Daytripper
3  2019-01-01 sam_hikes
18  2018-10-06 DixieFlyer
10  2018-07-14
Ord with a twist
11  2018-07-14 joebartels
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 11
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
follow the purple slate road
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
This hike follows both the new and the original Mount Ord roads to the 7128 foot summit of Mount Ord, in Arizona's Mazatzal Mountains. Although the entire hike is along a road, you are not likely to encounter much traffic. Certainly not on the lower road, which is an eroded, high clearance, 4 wheel drive jeep trail. This hike can be done as a round trip, or as a one way if you set up a shuttle vehicle.

Mount Ord seems to be the hub of Mazatzal Mountain history. Early items of note include a "Lost Apache Mine" somewhere on its north slope, and the construction of a wagon road to Camp Reno along its south slope in 1868. While the U.S. Army was fighting the Apaches during the 1880's, Mount Ord's summit was the site of a heliograph station. The Army used these tripod mounted mirrors to flash messages to other heliograph sites in the area, such as Mazatzal Peak and Aztec Peak, by reflecting sunlight.

This hike begins at the bottom of Slate Creek, where, in early 1925, prospectors Wesley Goswick, Jess Henderson, and Bill Packard located a rich cinnabar (mercury) deposit. Their claims were purchased and became the Ord Mine. The Arizona Quicksilver Corporation developed the property in 1926, and constructed an ore processing mill with a rotary furnace, on top of a small hill, directly above the Ord Mine. The company blazed a wagon road up Slate Creek to the site, where they also constructed a small town that came to be known as Stalker Village (a.k.a. Goswick Camp). Stalker Village contained a warehouse, office, boarding house, and a number of houses. The mining boom was short lived, however, and Stalker Village was abandoned after the Ord Mine and mill shut down in 1932. In subsequent years, the mine reopened several times, and a new mill was constructed closer to Slate Creek. Local character Travis Walton (think "Fire In The Sky") was said to have lived in Stalker Village, some time before new highway construction destroyed it in the 1970's. Nothing remains of Stalker Village, but the Ord Mine and the foundations of its first mill can be seen along this hike.

In 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps, or "C.C.C.", established Sunflower Camp F-25-A at Cane Spring, just north of the Ord Mine. In addition to constructing the Bush Highway (precursor to highway 87) through the Mazatzal Mountains, they also constructed the "Mount Ord Truck Trail" to the summit of Mount Ord, which this hike follows in its entirety. During 1936 and 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corps extended the Ord Mine road from the millsite above the mine, to Mount Ord's summit, where they erected a steel fire tower and a cabin for the U.S. Forest Service. The fire tower was replaced in 1983, but the original cabin remains. The original fire tower is now on display at the Rim Country Museum in Payson. The "Mount Ord Truck Trail" was partially bypassed in the 1970's by the new Mount Ord road, Forest Road 626. The deteriorating "Mount Ord Truck Trail", now known as Forest Road 27, is the ideal route for hikers to climb Mount Ord.

At the very bottom of Slate Creek Canyon, there is a small pullout on the south side of the northbound lanes of state highway 87. This will be mile 0.0 for this hike. Forest Road 27, which this hike follows, immediately doubles back to the west to parallel the highway for several hundred feet, before passing through a fence, and crossing the heavily eroded wash of Slate Creek. Forest Road 27 then makes a sharp turn to the east to begin a steep climb up the velvety green, chaparral clad north slope of Mount Ord.

The hike soon turns south to ascend a small side canyon of colorful purplish slate, clothed in bluish-green Arizona cypress trees. This is the Ord Mine area. Across the canyon on a sloping bench is the former site of the second Ord Mill, which processed mercury ore from the mine. The road continues up the little canyon and tops out on a small hill, near some old concrete foundations. This is the site of the original 1926 mill. Numerous old mine trails crisscross the hill, leading to collapsed shafts and overgrown adits. Be careful around the crumbling shafts.

Around mile 1.3, the road leaves the Ord Mine area behind, and renews its vigorous climb up the mountainside. The Beeline Highway shrinks into the bottom of Slate Creek Canyon, while steadily increasing views stretch from Saddle Mountain on the west to the Sierra Ancha on the east. A few tiny spur ridges provide small campsites on the otherwise steep and heavily vegetated north slope of Mount Ord.

As the hike approaches the 5000 foot level, Forest Road 27 rolls across a small flat, where Mazatzal Peak and the Mogollon Rim can be seen rising up to the north. Soon after, the first ponderosa makes an appearance.

After climbing past a jagged ridge of reddish rock, Forest Road 27 reaches a junction at 5 miles with the new Mount Ord Road (Forest Road 626). Continue south along Forest Road 626, as it climbs Oak Spring Canyon onto the ponderosa pine cloaked upper slopes of Mount Ord.

As the road crests Oak Spring Ridge, the mountain falls away to reveal an outstanding view of Four Peaks and Tonto Basin. Beyond this point, the road wraps around the upper end of Sycamore Canyon, where it reaches a large parking area in a saddle, at 7 miles. At this point a locked vehicle barrier gate blocks the road. Hike past the gate.

Now in a forest of mature gambel oaks, Forest Road 626 makes a broad switchback and arrives at a fork at 7.35 miles. Both forks lead to the summit, but the right (west) fork has better views. This road wraps around the south side of the peak, and finally comes to an end at 7.75 miles, amid the many communication towers crowning Mount Ord's windswept summit. The 102 foot fire tower sits on top of the true summit. The forest service discourages visitors from climbing the tower, but there are incredible views to be found from ground level anywhere on the peak. All of central Arizona is spread out before you.

Return the way you came. The views are even better on the return trip.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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.

2008-06-13 PrestonSands
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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 of 34 deeper Triplog Reviews
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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I decided to make my first ever trip up to Mount Ord by starting at the Slate Creek TH.

The trail head was not the easiest to find -- going north on Highway 87 you have to go about 5 miles past the signed exit to Mount Ord. There is an unmarked turnoff next to a green highway sign that has the mileage to Rye, Payson, and Winslow.

This hike is much easier than the distance and elevation gain would suggest. I had hiked up to Mazatzal Peak 2 days prior to this hike, and this hike is much, much easier. The trail was easy to follow, and you could use this for a workout/fitness hike if you are so inclined.

The views at the top were awesome, but imho not as nice as the views on top of Mazatzal Peak. At one point on the hike, you could look to the east and see Roosevelt Lake, and look to the west and see Horseshoe Reservoir and Bartlett Lake. At the summit, you had a nice view of 4 Peaks and also of the Superstition Ridgeline (including Flatiron and Superstition Peak 5057).

I'll definitely endeavor to make this hike one that I do annually.
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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The Eagle once told me that this hike "is the easiest 4000 feet in Arizona." I didn't have a lot of time today so I wanted to get the most bang for my buck. Why not give Ord a shot.

The first thing that came to mind as I ascended the lower section of the mountain was how nice it was to not have to worry about your footing; just get in a groove and head up the mountain. I'm not a fan of road hiking, but this was nice. Brilliant blue skies above, green terrain all around me, occasional wild flowers and...a black rattler a couple of miles from the top. It was stretched out catching some rays near the right side of the road as I was coming down. It almost caught this Ray, too, but was nice enough to alert me while I was still a couple of steps away. I thought it was a tree branch on the side of the road. Oops.

This was an enjoyable hike that I will surely do again. It's a great workout, too.
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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Ord and Sycamore
Early morning drive up to Ord. I have been looking at the snow cover satellite images for a few weeks, and I wanted to ground-truth if there was actually snow on the summit. There were a few melted drifts, but it was mostly dry. I crossed the 87 on FR 626 and drove down to Sycamore Creek. All of the washes were flowing well (see photo set).
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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Been wanting to do this, Been dreading the AEG :scared: but if you never try, you never know. Took my time, I'm really happy I pushed my comfort level and got another Summit behind me, looked around for a register, but didn't find it, is there one ?? Some one just cleared out all the pin stripping branches on the road leading up to 262, great if your taking a 4X4 up Trail 27 :app: Had the trail all to myself, met a Jeep Convoy heading back down from the gate area.
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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Prepping for future hikes. Made sure I brought some headphones along and it was smooth, distracted sailing. Rob in the lookout asked if I wanted to head up, but first he asked if I could secure a pulley to a nearby building - done and done. :) Some awesome views up there. Does that climb count for any AEG?

I noticed another car at the trailhead on the way down. I kept eyeing the road and didn't see anyone on their way up. Then, a familiar looking pup turned the corner. Nice to meet Rowdy and chat with Larry again. Certainly didn't expect to see anyone up there on a Monday morning, let alone a HAZer.

PS - your doors were locked, Larry. I imagine the guy that was there when I checked thought I was about to break in to your car.
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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Wildlife, that is how I would describe today. In stark contrast to Linda, I had a lot of wildlife today. Birds, lots of them so that I can say Kimball and Finger Rock seem to be having a silent spring, but also a snake, a Gila Monster, and a Javelina troupe, or what ever they are called. Nice day, perfect temp, but slightly humid.
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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Wanted to try this hike for some time now, every time I pass Mt. Ord on the way up to the rim. Great views on this hike, started out with temps in the 50's which really helped. The top was shrouded in clouds when I started out, but cleared up before I reached the summit. Took three hours to get up & an hour and a half to get back to the truck. No Bob today, he stayed home to tend to domestic matters, really missed him though. Only saw folks on Motorcycles and in Jeeps today, no hikers and then only after trail 27 merged with Forest Road 626. This would be a good doggie trail day!!
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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I decided to hike Mt. Ord and do an average, mundane hiking that most everyone does in these parts. Twas okay, but I wasn't expecting much. After a hour of not finding a snake, I got bored tho. Then I got used to the ennui. Then I started noticing a lot of birds. Later, I realized that this was a known bird watching area.

There were a lot of cars on the road. It's probably better to do this on a weekend when there's no work crew.

I hiked up for about 2 hours and then headed back. I'm not sure how close I was to the top. I figured that there was a lot of workers up there. It was a good idea for me to turn around because my calves started to cramp up and my lower back was sore. I'm a lowlander by trade, and my body reminded me of that.

I returned to the car around 3pm and decided that I had enough time and energy to look for snakes in the flats. I hit some trail across the street from Usery Mtn Regional Park. I saw two pinacate beetles with their butts upward together in unison. I've seen thousands of those critters and have never seen that behavior before. I read up on them and nothing explained that behavior to me. :-k

As I was about to turn back, I saw a small dback that looked like it ate recently.

All-in-all, Mt. Ord was decent and I want to return to look for birds and maybe mountain lions. I figured that they'd be there because of the high deer population. I saw about 4 deer but saw a plethora of their tracks and scat. It's probably best to do this hike on a weekend and with someone who doesn't talk too much.
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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Eagle Smeagol. Mt Ord sounds like a place in Mordor so it fits. I heard yesterday was busy but today was not. I was the only hiker and there was one mountain biker and two riders on horseback. Cool weather with a nice breeze most of the trip until that last mile or two. No critters out but still a good day.
Mount Ord from Slate Creek TH
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For a number of reasons I didn't go to Flag, Sedona, or the Grand Canyon as hoped over this first day of a 3 day weekend, and instead hikes this. Mostly this, for my knee. The miles were long, but the grade was good. I was surprised how fast I was on a road. The views were nice, especially of the Peaks. No Catalina views, as the 4 Peaks and Pinals blocked those, but I believe the Pinalenos were visible. Small fire on the Rim, east of Promontory, and the vast extents of the Arizona Highlands eco-region lays out before one when looking east from the summit. The Sierra Ancha block the Whites, but that is OK. I had an epiphany up there. The best views in Arizona seem to be from places I lived and left: The Peaks looking north and east in fall and winter, and Tucson with the Catalinas and Ritas. Also, the Canyon. I say this, because you really can see a lot from some of those places, with not a long drive. Now I want to do Brown or those other 3 hills.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Slate Creek Trailhead: From Phoenix, take state highway 87 north to the bottom of Slate Creek Canyon (4.8 miles past the signed Mount Ord turnoff at the Maricopa/Gila County line). Turn right into a large pull off/parking area at milepost 228.7 at the bottom of Slate Creek Canyon. The hike begins here (see hike description) ***NOTE: If heading southbound on highway 87 from Payson, you will have to continue past the bottom of Slate Creek Canyon to the divided highway crossover at the Maricopa/Gila County line! ***

Upper Access: From Phoenix, take state highway 87 north to the signed turnoff for Mt. Ord Road, about 0.5 miles north of mile post 222 (near Maricopa/Gila County line). Turn right, and follow Mt. Ord Road/forest road 626 to its end at a locked gate, about 5.8 miles from highway 87.
page created by PrestonSands on Jun 13 2008 3:44 pm
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