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Sugarloaf Mountain - Maricopa, AZ

Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.8 of 5 
no permit
46 5 0
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,436 feet
Elevation Gain 956 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,071 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.51
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
 Dogs not allowed
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21  2023-03-08 DixieFlyer
4  2020-11-21 GrangerGuy
11  2019-05-18 alexofaz
10  2014-02-24 Dave1
author avatar Guides 26
Routes 101
Photos 688
Trips 78 map ( 891 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Southwest Region
Historical Weather
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Preferred Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb → 7 AM
Sun  5:23am - 7:37pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

utterly silent
by GrangerGuy

At about 9:00, I headed out on the 4WD road on foot, toward the wilderness boundary. Vegetation continues to be creosote bush. As I headed out, it was still not quite clear which mountain is Sugarloaf. I was not sure I had seen it yet. At the wash, the road follows the wash for maybe 5 yards, then turns up out of it. At 0.9 miles from the tank, you arrive at the wilderness boundary. There is a fence, and a permanent gate that allows passage for people, and maybe some animals.

On the other side of the gate, the road is very obscure at first. Pay attention to your map or GPS so you don't head off in the wrong direction. Fairly quickly, the path returns to being fairly obvious 2-track. It is curious that the BLM tried to obscure the road entirely inside the fence, then backed off to try to make it single-track, then gave up altogether and left it as two-track. The walk is so flat and so smooth, that I walked with my trekking poles folded up, which I rarely do.

Once inside the wilderness, the creosote bush starts to give way to Palo Verde. From Eagle Eye Road to the wilderness boundary, the road is almost completely flat, and the vegetation is almost completely Creosote Bush and grass.

There are many burro paths. At 2.2 miles from the tank, I followed one that cut off a little triangle of road, but usually, the road was the best plan. At 2.3 miles from the tank, the road follows the bottom of the wash for some distance. This wilderness, as wildernesses go, is a little dull.

After crossing the first saddle, you cross the main wash, and the remains of the road turn left. From here, it is now straightforward to see which peak is Sugarloaf. It is not the easy one I was looking at up to this point, but a much more rugged, rocky peak. I had mapped out a route up the shoulder to the right and down to the left, but that now appears to be a pretty risky plan. The shoulder that one sees on the left turns out to be a sheer cliff and does not seem doable at all. One should stay to the right of the drainage when climbing up. Staying to the left of the drainage would be insane, in fact.d this with Google Earth later. Despite careful reviews of aerial photos, it is easy to be misled about the difficulty of a route. There is no substitute for on-the-ground recon.

A good waypoint to leave the wash, and head up to the saddle is marked on the recorded route. A second good place would be the Saguaro that has its arms up as if signaling for a touchdown. After arriving at the saddle, the views start to open up for the first time today. Bear left along the top of the ridge from the saddle. There are several places one could think about penetrating the wall in front of you but staying to the right end of it turned out to be a good plan. There was just one class 3 scramble of about 8 feet, and the rest of the climb can be done standing up.

There is no need to expose yourself to any hazardous ledges. After the initial penetration of the rock wall, contour around the rocks, staying to the right of them and continuing to work your way uphill. It is a good idea to take pictures looking backward, or at least looking back and taking some mental notes, so you can follow your route back. The GPS track will also be helpful.

Arrived at the summit in about 2 hours 20 minutes, 4 miles from the car. It is a beautiful view, but stark. Not much color today. It doesn't generate awe in me. Signed the register. I was the first person to sign since March of this year.

From the summit, looking back toward the city, you can see Quartz Peak, the White Tank Mountains, and the Four Peaks. The Superstitions, and all of Phoenix, are hidden by the intervening mountains, but you can see smog spilling out from the city. Looking northwest, the Harquahala Mountains and wilderness are prominent, and looking southwest you see Big Horn Peak.

After about 15 minutes at the top, I picked up a little litter at the summit and headed back down.

Once off the summit and through the little scramble of the rocky shoulder, returning down the side of the saddle, there are many routes down, as it is quite grassy and open. At some time along the return route, the burro paths become easier than the wash. Try them out, and see what works for you. From where you pick up the two-track, it becomes an easy walk back.

On the return, you climb up out of the wash, over a minor saddle, and down fairly smartly, then the road levels for the remainder of the trip. Pay a little bit of attention to the route on the way back. It is possible to be misled by the burro trails.

There is burro scat and burro tracks all around but did not see any animals. When I stopped walking it became utterly silent. No bugs, no machines, no wind.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

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2023-03-09 GrangerGuy
    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.

     Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Arrived at the intersection of Microwave Station Road and Eagle Eye Road and set the odometer to zero. If you navigate to Ambrosia Mill from home, it will take you to this intersection. The mill was a processing plant for ores from nearby mines in the 1950s and 1960s.

    At 0.2 miles, there are two intersections close together. Take the second right, which keeps you on Microwave Station Road. Going straight at the second intersection would take you to the mill. Microwave Station Rd. is also known as BLM Route 9110. I thought this road was supposed to be paved but it is dirt. It is clearly a high clearance road, a 5-15 MPH sort of route.

    At about 3.6 miles, Route 9110A continues straight, while the main 9110 goes left. Follow 9110. At 8.7-8.8 miles from Eagle Eye Road, turn left on the unmarked road going to Dead Horse Tank. This road is high clearance, 4WD recommended. At 9.8 miles from Eagle Eye Road, you arrive at Dead Horse Tank. You can continue straight through the gate, down into and across the tank, if you have 4WD and the tank is dry.

    Once through the tank, you can continue on the 4WD road toward the trailhead. The brush does close in on the 4WD road, so I found it a better plan to walk from the tank. If you carried a set of loppers, or didn't mind Arizona Pinstripes, you could drive all the way to the wilderness boundary, where there is plenty of parking.
    page created by Dave1 on Feb 24 2014 8:58 pm
     90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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