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Turret Peak, AZ

no permit
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Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Cordes
3.3 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,680 feet
Elevation Gain 2,080 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18.4
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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24  2014-11-29
Rugged Mesa - Turret Peak - Bishop Creek Loop
23  2014-11-29
Rugged Mesa - Turret Peak - Bishop Creek Loop
25  2012-10-25 Hansenaz
5  2012-02-16 Hansenaz
18  2008-12-08 nobert15
Author nobert15
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 3
Photos 1,445
Trips 42 map ( 434 miles )
Age 35 Male Gender
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Nov, Oct → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:25pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Climb to the top of historic Turret Peak
by nobert15

The Battle of Turret Peak in south central Arizona was one of the pivotal fights that broke the backs of the Apaches and Yavapais in their efforts to resist white encroachment into their lands. Fought on March 27, 1873, the battle of Turret Peak formed part of Gen. George Crook's Tonto Basin campaign to force the Apaches and Yavapais to submit to reservations. Capt. George Randall, leading a small force including Apache scouts, surprised a rancheria ensconced near the crest of Turret Peak. The battle at Turret Peak proved to the Indians that there was no sanctuary from the soldiers. Two weeks later, most of the Apaches and Yavapais surrendered to Crook at Camp Verde, Arizona.

From your parking spot head east up Bishop Creek. Following the creek is fairly easy going as you walk under large sycamores, junipers, and the occasional ponderosa pine that wasn't burned in the Cave Creek complex fire. There are many places that would be suitable for an easy backpacking trip. You will cross an extension of FR44 two more times on your way up Bishop Creek, and although it's possible to drive up to the final road crossing and start your hike there the road is fairly rough and you'll have some new custom AZ pin striping on your truck.

At 2.5 miles turn right, headed east, at an unnamed wash with a lone cottonwood standing about 100 feet up stream, coordinates N34'14.947 W111'52.822. You should see Turret Peak straight ahead behind the cottonwood. Follow this wash up until you hit a Y intersection. Keep left and follow as far as you can. When you come to another Y intersection it's up to you how to get to the top of the peak. I went left and bushwhacked my way up to the southern portion of the peak. There is no defined trail so just pick what line looks best. Near the summit there is a final bit of easy rock climbing to gain the top.

Once on top you'll be on the southern portion of the peak, where the summit carin is. You'll be separated from the larger northern portion by a large rock outcropping. You can just hug the west facing side of the rock outcropping to make your way to the northern portion of the peak. Enjoy the views and remember the history of the summit, where at least 2 dozen Indians were killed and the Native American resistance in Arizona effectively ended.

From the top you can either go back the way you came or take the center slope of the peak down, directly below the rock outcropping, back to Bishop Creek. I found taking the wash much easier, but coming down the center of the peak gave some different views and you get to see a section of Bishop Creek that wasn't so badly damaged in the fire. Either way once down one could make a long day hike and follow Bishop Creek all the way up to Pine Mountain, or just return down the creek to their car.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-12-08 nobert15
    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
    Turret Peak
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    Rugged Mesa - Turret Peak - Bishop Creek Loop
    I needed to scratch this itch.
    This has been another on my radar for awhile.

    My interest was re tweaked when I was researching the General Crook Trail that Denny and I completed last year.
    On March 27, 1873, a group of soldiers and Apache Scouts under the command of Captain George M. Randall crept up Turret Peak around midnight. Randall had the men crawl on hands and knees to avoid making any noise or rattling any stones. Waiting until dawn, the soldiers charged and surprised a rancheria near the crest of the mountain. The natives were so startled and panic-stricken that many of them simply jumped from the mountain side falling to their death below.[2] Some resisted, fighting for a little while before being killed or surrendering. Fifty-seven natives died as result and several more were wounded and captured. Unfortunately a few civilians were found in the cave after the fighting had stopped, killed accidentally by the covering fire or rolling rocks. The attack at Turret Peak proved demoralizing to the Yavapai and Apache people. Two weeks after the battle, on April 6, many of the hostiles surrendered to Crook at Camp Verde. Several of the soldiers who fought at Turret Peak were later awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions.

    Temps were perfect on the day. In the 30's at the start but became very pleasant once we got into the sunlight.

    A half mile road walk and then straight up Rugged Mesa. 'Twas a bit steep, but more than anything, I was wishing for the Gaiters I'd left in the truck. Rugged Mesa, with the proper protection, is a nice walk with great views. It was just under 2 miles across the top, but stopping to remove prickly things, slowed us down.

    From on top of Rugged Mesa, we plotted our route up Turret trying to bypass as much of the sharp prickly stuff that we could. It worked out pretty well for the most part.

    Based on the uncontrollable language coming from both of our mouths, this peak should be renamed Tourette Peak instead of Turret Peak

    I made it to the western bench just below the peak and then Joe led us around the eastern side to ascend the Class 3 to the top of Turret. There was only one slightly sketchy spot. Views...well... WOW.

    Video from atop Turret Peak :next:

    We were woefully behind on our timetable due to the thickness of the Flora to this point. We decided we'd make it down to Bishop Creek, have some lunch, and then assess the situation.

    Bishop Creek was like Heaven compared to what we were through. We went towards Buck Basin, but while eating some lunch, decided the rest of the track was not in the cards on this day. We retreated down Bishop Creek. Bishop Creek itself looks to be a worthy location to check out.

    I DO have unfinished business up there, but at least Turret is out of my system.

    Recommendations for Rugged Mesa / Turret Peak
    Good GPS Track :next: Check
    Long Pants :next: Check
    Long Sleeve shirt :next: Check
    Gaiters :next: ](*,)
    Turret Peak
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    Rugged Mesa - Turret Peak - Bishop Creek Loop
    The AMC Eagle had perks in the area to knock off his wish list. Started about 7:40am in crisp yet warmer than average 40ish temps. The aroma of a nearby campfire tickled our senses. Short of a mile we turned off-trail for a mean beeline ascent up Rugged Mesa. The nippy chill was no match for this ascent so we retired the warm hats and secondary shirts.

    Unfortunately neither of us came prepared for the villain of Autumn. Foxtails and other sharp seeds from the record summer rainfall wanted blood. Had we come prepared with gaiters this would have been enjoyable. Temps were perfect. Visibility was great. We had just enough knowledge to name off a few surrounding and distant peaks.

    Contemplated Turret as the chaparral looked thick. More so as our feet were crying uncle. Already invested thus far we forged ahead. Dropped off the NE end of Rugged Mesa then ascended the SW side of Turret. Midway up it got steep. It also got interesting so our decision panned out. I took a stab at a direct assault up the SE corner while Bruce wrapped around the east. Made it up one class four pitch with another to go. I retreated as it felt like I was taking too long. The downside of that decision was having to hover over an agave midway on the wall. After some speed praying it worked out.

    Turret is pretty cool up top with it's 360 degree perched views. Three FLIVER discs found up top. 2 referenced to the 1 peak. Heading up we had joked about wanting an army to come up and kill us so we would not have to tread anymore foxtails. Looking back the worst was on the west side of Rugged Mesa, most notably our initial ascent.

    We dropped off the NW end of Rugged Mesa following nobert15's ( correction, Hansenaz's! ) track initially. Steep, slower than anticipated yet the worst of the day was well behind. We angled north to Bishop Creek as Buck Basin was our next perk.

    Bishop Creek felt like a resort with virtually nothing to impede travel. The crunch of sycamore leaves and occasional turning cottonwoods dazzled us. Sandwiched between Turret and an unnamed high peak, 5650, directly above NW rounded out the welcome wagon.

    Out of Bishop, up a tributary towards Buck Basin, got our attention. The geology of the creek had a little flair. Bypassed a dryfall then lunched before another. An enjoyable Autumn lunch with a nice breeze. Time got away from us so a return is in the cards.

    Sycamores past. Cottonwoods just underway.
    Turret Peak
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    I had been thinking about this one for a while. It is an interesting looking peak with an interesting history (check out Nobert15's excellent description). The fight with the Indians on top of Turret Peak apparently gave rise to the common name of this area (Bloody Basin) and it is a major high point looking over this part off the Verde valley.

    I took a recon trip to the peak last year and found out that the road system in is a little tricky (I got it wrong) and that in lieu of a jeep it might be fun to approach the mountain by going over rather than around Rugged Mesa.

    The turnoff to the left for FR44 is ~17 mi. from I-17 and the road is marked with a FR44 sign, I went almost a mile down this rough road with high clearance before deciding "good enough". I walked the jeep road about 0.5mi to a junction and then headed off cross country up the side of Rugged Mesa. It's a little steep but once on top it was pretty good walking in the rocky grassland. There were only a few signs that the area had burned in the past. I spooked 3 does on top of the mesa.

    Eventually Turret Peak comes into view. I had stayed on the right side of the mesa and it was a steep drop to the saddle. It looked like the descent would have been a little better if I'd have taken the "left fork" at the mesa end. From the end of the mesa until leaving the peak by entering Bishop Creek in a couple hours, it's steep bushwacking through the scrub.

    Reaching the actual summit requires a bit of scrambling. I had good luck going up from the left, a little ways down from first contacting the rock. More skillful scramblers could probably go directly SW to NE right over the summit and on to the long "table" beyond the summit.

    The summit doesn't get a lot of visitors. The "weathered" scraps of paper showed a group of Boy Scouts in 2011 and 2012; the only other legible names were a pair of hikers from March 2012. Great views from on top.

    I had hoped to look around the summit area for "signs of history" but the table-area was heavily overgrown and there was nothing easily found. Like Nobert15 I took the direct route down to (dry) Bishop Creek which looked like a pretty line of colored trees from above. I saw another deer along the way and a buck in the creek drainage. Walking the creek was a lot nicer than the bushwacking and the drainage is open enough that there was minimal tree limb ducking. There were a few pools of water and I saw several large carnivore "scat piles" which I was curious about but couldn't identify.

    The creek led to FR44 (nobert15's jeep-enabled starting point) and I headed out the road back to my car.

    I'm glad I got this one out of my system and it's pretty country with great views, but the steep bushwacking is a negative.
    Turret Peak
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    This turned out to be a recon trip. I expected problems with the 4x4 road but I didn't anticipate problems with finding it. Here's what I learned: FR44 (the eastern intersection with the Bloody Basin Rd) is ~18mi from I-17 and there actually is a small "44" sign identifying it.

    Unfortunately I sampled two different unlabeled dirt roads a mile or two before FR44. This cost me time and in the end I walked from ~1mi up the second one, though I soon realized I should be in the next valley to the east. I toured the high ridge (west of FR44) and explored the drainage just east of Mesa Butte before following it and a smaller tributary to FR44.

    I followed the road to Bishop Creek and then went east in the drainage toward Turret Peak. The walking is not bad, a little branch ducking and rock hopping. I only went as far as the 2nd crossing of the jeep road and walked the road back to FR44/Bishop Creek. The drainage and road are probably about the same timewise.

    Walking out FR44 I decided it didn't look too bad...probably doable in stock SUVs, though I didn't actually follow it all the way back to Bloody Basin Rd. I angled west up the ridge to get back to my car.

    I was back early enough to take the long dirt road, past Seven Springs, back to the Cave Creek area. It's a real thrill when you crest the ridge overlooking Verde Valley and think (for a moment) you're going right off the cliff.. :o

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    From Phoenix: Drive north on I-17 to the Bloody Basin exit. Head east on a well maintained dirt road through the Agua Fria National Monument and into the Tonto National Forest. Turn left at the second turn off for FR44, marked FR44A on most maps. The road gets much rougher here, you'll need your 4x4. Park where the road meets Bishop Creek at the bottom of a large hill.
    page created by nobert15 on Dec 07 2008 9:00 pm
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