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Maricopa Peak, AZ

no permit
328 91 2
Guide 91 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > South Mtn
3.8 of 5 by 17
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,426 feet
Elevation Gain 97 feet
Accumulated Gain 161 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.31
Interest Peak
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
10  2019-04-07
Maricopa Peak & T-bone Loop
2  2019-02-14 Tortoise_Hiker
13  2018-06-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
4  2018-05-12 hikerdw
34  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
5  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
2  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
4  2018-03-03
Alta - Bajada Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author trekkin_gecko
author avatar Guides 5
Routes 340
Photos 4,078
Trips 2,583 map ( 16,761 miles )
Age 61 Female Gender
Location phoenix, az
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Dec
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:32pm
Official Route
22 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
maricopa peak from alta trail
by trekkin_gecko

Maricopa Peak is the highest point of the Ma Ha Tauk range of South Mountain. At 2523 feet, it is the third highest peak on South Mountain, the highest being Mount Suppoa at 2690 feet, followed by Goat Hill at 2526 feet. The peak is accessed from Alta Trail at milepost 8. There is an obvious use trail leading up to the peak toward the east. The northern lobe of the peak rock formation is the highest point.

The posted GPS route is only for the spur trail from the Alta turnoff. Milepost 8 is roughly three miles from Bajada trailhead on the eastern end of Alta, or a mile and a half from San Juan trailhead on the west. San Juan road leads to both trailheads, and is only open the first weekend of the month. Bajada can be reached at anytime by parking where the road is blocked off and walking.

The spur trail is faint but clear enough. Cactus, creosote and catsclaw encroach at times. There are a couple places you have to climb over rocks and there is a little bit of exposure. Nothing sketchy; just take your time. At the actual peak, there is a very minor scramble up rock to the high point on the left, or north. Great views of the valley, South Mountain and the Estrellas are found. There is a nice flat summit area to take a break. The south part of the peak is worthy of exploration, too.

If you're going to hike Alta, a side trip to this peak offers a lot of value for only a half mile out of the way. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy it is to hike from Bajada and return the same way. ( GPS track for that option )

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2012-11-05 trekkin_gecko
    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 42 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Maricopa Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    An enjoyable loop with a great group of people. I really like the Alta trail, and Maricopa Peak beats any other in the park in my opinion (sorry @trekkin_gecko! :oops: )

    It was a nice day, but actually got a bit warm on the last couple miles down on the plains where the buffalo roam.

    If you weren't able to join us, be assured you were not forgotten (or unmentioned) :sweat: .

    Great to hike with Denny and Angela again. And I guess 9L and Linda too. I wish hiking partners would bring snacks to share as a regular occurrence! :)
    Maricopa Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Yes, I was hiking with the gazelles today but they were moseying on my account I'm sure so I appreciated not being left too far behind as bait :lol:. It was a nice morning for my fifth time hiking in South Mountain Park.

    Alta Trail from east side The hike starts off on a very slight incline until it starts going up the side of a mountain switching back and forth in a very nice and pleasant grade. Linda led the way and was keeping a very moderate pace as we made our way up to a bit of a ridge crossing on both sides of it. She pointed out some items of interest and Denny showed us his favorite tree as it appears a few times along here. I heard the group speaking about someone down below but I thot they were talking about any hiker, I didn't realize they were talking about John9L and suddenly he was at my six as they say. He was breathing hard though as he had made quite the effort to get caught up as he had started on the wrong trail.

    And now there were four ducks in a row hi ho, hi ho....oh wait, that's dwarfs, hi ho, hi ho (channeling my inner Joe Bartels :D ) We continued along the upper side before crossing over to the north side with views of the city and ahead to the Estrella. You could see the peak right in front of you and I thot, not too far but then John informed me we would be going all the way around and up the back side. Well shoot. And now we're going down and down and back up and then down again before we finally just continued up the back side. Todd did a little stop for me to catch my breath during all this.

    Finally we arrive at the saddle looking at the west side of Maricopa Peak and a ridgeline hike up slightly to it. So over we went, John was already there by the time we got done chatting at the saddle. The view from the saddle is 360 so it's pretty nice. We made our way over to the peak and up on top. We hung out for longer than I thot they would. Chumley fixed Joe's hat (my hat) as the rim had separated from the body. They each took the opportunity to see what they would look like in the hat [ photo ] with great results I think.

    And now to get down from here and down and down and down. We paused at the saddle to make some observations and then started the switchbacks to the valley floor... This took awhile as the footing is not the best in some areas and it's just a longer trek than it looks from the saddle. We encountered quite a few hikers on the way, passed one group on their way down otherwise everyone was headed up. We reached the bottom and headed southish on the National Trail. From here it is a slog just as promised. As we were going thru this one section, Chumley mentioned something about buffalo.

    We took a break at the big wash where I explained that there aren't any buffalo here, it would be bison :) . Todd warned me that for the last two miles there was 300 feet of negligible elevation gain and he was sure right. I mostly noticed it because I was a little tired. I still don't have my stamina up to where I would like it and I think that's just a matter of consistently hiking more higher mileage hikes. John took off and I didn't see him until we got back to the TH. Soon Linda and Chumley also built up space between me and Denny. Denny was kind enough to hang back which was nice as the conversation made those two miles go by faster and easier. It's actually not a bad grade but it seemed a bit warm, even with the breeze.

    Finally we crossed over the wash and to the cars. While having some Tibber snacks and a beer and gatorade I shared, we saw a hang glider in the distance and watched him sail with the wind until he didn't and he came to the ground. It was a good hike but I agree with the others, an out and back to the Peak via Alta would be the preferred route. I thot the hike to the Peak was pretty cool, especially the first up on the Alta to that ridge.

    Thx Todd for putting this together. It was great to finally hike with Linda for the first time altho I feel like I somewhat knew her already. And good to catch up with John and Denny too. The drive on 7th St from the freeway to the Park is always interesting too. And as promised, a video of the hike and some hang glider at the end. The new stabilization on youtube starts the pics out a little blurry and then brings them into focus. It didn't used to do that so hopefully they'll get enough complaints. Update, I learned that it was my slide transitions that caused the focus issues so I adjusted the transitions and now it's much better. Here is the new link - [ youtube video ]
    Maricopa Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Maricopa and Star via Alta
    took advantage of san juan road being open this morning
    alta trail then up the east ridge to maricopa peak
    shorter, steeper, slower, more interesting and more fun
    always good to work on my off trail skilzzz (or lack thereof)
    hit both north and south parts of the peak, then went down the west side
    thought i would follow the ridgeline to star peak on the way back for some extra views and mileage
    pretty hazy again this morning
    saw a dozen hikers

    Maricopa Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Maricopa Peak via Alta
    A buddy and I hiked to the summit of Maricopa Peak this morning. The trailhead situation was a little confusing so I got help from the HAZ forum and am glad I did. There still is no official trailhead. The "unofficial" one is also now under construction so it's gone too. We parked on the shoulder of a nearby street. Other hikers were there too and they parked closer to the trail than we did. We played it safe but the others seemed like regulars.

    I have to say that the summit was more treacherous than I expected. It's not like hiking to the top of Piestewa, Camelback or Tom's Thumb. One slip of the foot and you'd be tumbling quite a distance. Of course the payoff for such a climb is even sweeter. This is the 360 from the top:

    My friend found at least 4-5 seashells along the way, which blew my mind. You read that right. He's an avid reader and told me he'd learned about the geology of this area and was actively looking out for seashells as a result. I photographed his find and will add them later. WTH?

    Update: To quote @chumley, "Not fossilized seashells! :sweat:
    [ Talus Snail ]
    [ Squaw Peak Talussnail ]"
    Maricopa Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    did the over and back on alta with a side trip to maricopa peak
    always enjoy this high point and hit both the higher north and south summits
    can't say i as like going down the west side of alta; coming back up is fine
    saw more people on this trail than i ever have, including two gals that went up to the peak looking for a geocache
    nice day for it, and nice to have san juan road open
    Maricopa Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Great way to start the year! Assembled my A team hiker buddies Maria and Curt and hit South Mountain for the Alta Bajada loop. Parked at 43rd Ave trail head. Was concerned that standing water would be a problem, but there was none. Took a side trip up to Maricopa Peak. Saw a big old javelina on the trail, who bolted straight down the side of the mountain once he heard us coming up on him. No one expected to see that guy so far up the side of the mountain! We saw a fair number of other hikers on the loop.
    Maricopa Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Maricopa Night Warrior
    Fun night hike. Rare Bob-sighting! :) Nice to meet rcorfman!

    The snake-whisperer lead us to a feisty speckled. After I passed and it put a nice strike toward rcorfman, I was happy to have my gun so I could fire a warning shot. At Joe. It got him out of his cement shoes. :lol: Two feet, two inches, something was probably lost in the metric conversion.

    Perfect weather and a nice break on the peak. The western parts of the park seem more remote.

    Joe was telling me how much he likes the lower part of the Alta Trail, so we decided to check it out. It's nice, but probably more scenic during the day.

    I'm a somo novice. Joe basically grew up here. Linda hikes here 9 times a week. Neither was any help when I led everybody astray. Three times. Nonetheless I take full responsibility. :sorrry:

    Some of the extras messed with the schedule and the DQ was closed. ](*,)

    Overall a pretty good Wednesday on the mountain.
    Maricopa Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Maricopa Peak via Alta
    haven't been on maricopa peak yet this year
    san juan road was open, so took alta trail from bajada trailhead
    did not take the eastern ridge today, chosing to stay on the trail all the way around to signpost 8 and up to the peak
    the peak was covered with flying ants, so i didn't stay even two seconds
    it's a nice summit, so i was a little sad that i couldn't enjoy it
    hit the south part of the peak and headed on down, stopping at a saddle to drink some water and take a photo
    as expected, had the trail to myself
    still humid :sweat:
    this is a nice hike, and i'm going to do it more often
    even though the road is open, there is a bike race tomorrow morning, so roads are closed from 5:00 to 10:00
    will see if i can find a link for accurate info on exactly what roads
    home in time for usa olympic women's soccer
    tied with france 0-0 at halftime
    usa 1 france 0 :y: ... tain
    8/07/16: Road closure at the front gate, 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Access into the park is limited to race participants
    Maricopa Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Bajada - Alta Loop
    I've been wanting to hike the Alta trail for some time. I started from the Y intersection of Summit and San Juan roads and decided to do the Bajada Trail first. Bajada isn't all that interesting so I figured I would get it out of the way quickly while I was still fresh and then do Alta which would take me back to the car. I think that was a good call, but I will probably try it the other way too just to see.

    Bajada was boring except for when the PO'd rattler decided to let me know that I was in his area. Otherwise pretty uneventful. This was my first time on the extreme Western end of National Trail as well. I made good time to the San Juan Trail head and stopped and had a snack before starting the climb on Alta.

    The Western end of Alta Trail is fairly steep and it seemed like I was climbing forever. About 2/3 of the way up another rattler became annoyed with me, and after that I imagined I saw rattlesnakes behind every rock and under every bush for the rest of the day. Finally I made it to the top of the ridge line and took the side trail to the top of Maricopa Peak. It wasn't much of a trail, but it looked worse than it was. There were several places that looked like there was no way past, but when I got closer it turned out not to be too bad. The last bit getting up to the top of the peak was steep and tricky, but very doable. I was glad that I took that side trip and felt a real sense of accomplishment standing at the high point of the Ma Ha Tuak range looking down on the world.

    Alta drops down a ways on the North side of the mountain and then pops up on the ridge again before the descent. It seemed to me that the East end of Alta isn't as steep as the West end, so it might be easier going around the other way (like most of the other trip logs). I'll give that a shot some time.
    Maricopa Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I did the loop counter-clockwise because I wanted the views on the ridge facing west. Really enjoyable hike, and it felt like I was really far from the valley, yet I was so close. Good trails, good views, and quiet except for the Jets, but they are variable. Saw hardly anyone, not at all like the peaks and trails in the city. Tagged Maricopa, saw where the other member dug for the benchmark. I think, with an early start and enough water, this could be done in hotter weather.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To hike
    from the central avenue entrance to south mountain, go 2.5 miles on san juan road bajada trailhead is on the left
    page created by trekkin_gecko on Nov 05 2012 3:01 pm
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it hard
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