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Peak 3042 - Mormon Flat Dam Quad, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
4.5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,946 feet
Elevation Gain 490 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,716 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.98
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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9  2019-01-19
Salt River Canyon View from Peak 3042
54  2018-01-13
Salt River Canyon View from Peak 3042
50  2014-06-05 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   Nov, Mar, Feb, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Awesome Skull Cave view!
by CannondaleKid

This is an off-trail hike with a variety of terrain to deal with from boulder-hopping in the wash to climbing some steep slopes, but nothing like climbing Black Cross Butte right next door.

With very little shade if you hike it in hot weather (like I did) you will want to bring plenty of fluids. During monsoon season keep an eye on the weather as flash flooding can be an issue.

The first and last portion of the hike you simply follow the wash so you will either be rock/boulder hopping or every once in a while trade it off for some brush including cats-claw. Not real tough, but it can sap your energy more than you realize.

At 1.3 miles, turn off to the right and ascend the drainage about 500 feet to a saddle. At the saddle you will get your first glimpse of the awesome views still to come. From the saddle, follow various game trails in a northwesterly direction, curving slightly left around the first hill, then slightly right around an almost insignificant 'hump' before cutting close along the left side of a steeper rock outcrop into a shallow wash.

From there, just shoot for the narrow drainage and ascend 150' to a large mesa, where the views just bumped up another notch. Now just pick your route up the slope to the north. For this final ascent I'd recommend passing through the left edge of the major cholla field, which seemed to provide a more direct route than attempting a path through the prickly pear. Depending on where you reach the top you might have a small amount of rock scaling but nothing technical.

The summit is a reasonably flat triangular mesa about 100 yards southeast to northwest by 75 yards southwest to northeast. Almost in the exact center is a Palo Verde tree, which just happens to be at the summit. Take all the time in the world to slowly walk around the tree, looking off in the distance in every direction. Hmmm, let's see whichof the major peaks I can remember off-hand... clockwise from the east there's Horse Mesa, Black Cross Butte, Tortilla Mountain, Malapais Mountain, Weavers Needle, Geronimo Head, Superstition Ridgeline, Goldfield Mountains, El Recortado, Sheep Mountain, Hells Hip Pocket and finally Four Peaks.

Now take a walk around to check out the views of the Salt River below, particularly Sheep Bend then take a glance across and you have probably the closest view of Skull Cave from this side of the Salt River.

In short, this hike provided me with many of the best views you can find just a short jaunt up the Apache Trail.

Water Sources
Probably none for most of the year with some water flow or pools during monsoon season or early spring.

I saw a few fire rings at the trailhead so dry camping is an option.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2014-06-07 CannondaleKid
    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 Review
    Peak 3042 - Mormon Flat Dam Quad
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    On my Peak 3042 recon four days earlier I felt a route along the floor of the canyon from Forest Road 80 could very well be the best option. So I pored over the topo & satellite maps a bit more, planned a route with 3 options of where to ascend from the wash, of which it just so happened the least likely was closest to the trailhead and the best option was the farthest. With the route planned, I headed out the next chance I got.

    Rather than start at the SRP gate on FR80, I drove down into the 'bowl' just below the road and parked next to a fire ring. From there I set out along a road of sorts for a few hundred feet to its end, then continuing along a faint trail, more like a game trail than anything else. But it was heading the direction I wanted to go so I followed it until it faded out while crossing the wash. From a hike I did 3 miles downstream 4 years ago I remembered there was a series of drops at the first corner of the wash. To avoid them I climbed to the right to a small saddle then descended a loose gravel slope back to the wash.

    From there I continued along the canyon floor, rock and boulder-hopping most of the way, with some sections where I took shortcuts around corners through the few flat areas. Sometimes it wasn't worth the effort because the burrs and cats-claw were ready to crab hold of me. The burrs would be my nemesis any time I went through brushy areas.

    I passed by my first, but least likely ascent route option, which may have been nice game trails higher up, the lower slope was bad news so I continued. The second option provided a few possibilities but would entail lots of back and forth, so again I continued on. But the moment I laid eyes on ascent option #3 I knew it was the best option by far. Besides, it was very close to being on a straight line the wash to Peak 3042.

    So, at 1.3 miles from the TH I turned right, following a relatively wide drainage about 500' up to the ridge/saddle. Wow! The views in all directions were great, yet I sensed it was just a hint of what was to come.

    With a hill immediately ahead blocking view of my planned route, I wasn't sure whether to follow the route I mapped out by satellite view or not, so took a slight detour to climb the hill for a better look. It was another nice view but I was more interested in the fact it re-affirmed my route choice. I dropped back down and curved back onto my original route, which just happened to parallel some game trails so I followed them to the next ridge, where again I ascended a smaller hill for another gander at the terrain ahead. Again I found my original route had nailed it pretty well so I decided to stop second-guessing myself and just follow the planned route, which I did until the next point where I had mapped two routes to the summit.

    The first was straight up a drainage, one that satellite view didn't give me much hope, or the second option, which would have added close to a mile to the round-trip. Always seeking the shortest route, I chose the drainage. It began quite steep but after that it was just a matter of winding back and forth up and around the obstacles and it was a piece-of-cake!

    Now up on the wide mesa I simply set my GPS to point the way to the summit and set off up the slope. I took a route between a prickly pear thicket on the left and a cholla forest on the right. I found it easier to go through the cholla as I didn't have to wind around as much as thorough the prickly pear. A relatively easy 300' ascent and I was up top.

    I took the usual summit pan photos and videos with both my Olympus & GoPro (which I had used to film the final ascent as well), and settled in for my PB&J lunch. After the short break I wandered around the summit taking a number of photos near the edges of the flat summit. I thought of taking a lot more time wandering around some of the lower slopes, but having accomplished reaching the goal easier than expected, after I mulled over a few thoughts I decided to head back. My decision was made due to three things:
    1. I'll return again soon for a more thorough look
    2. I wanted to scout out a route to Black Cross Butte
    3. I wanted to check out some debris I saw in the wash below where I was at 4 days earlier.

    So I headed back on the same route until I hit the canyon floor 1.3 miles from the TH, where I turned the other direction. Unfortunately I didn't have the waypoint to the large piece of tinted glass or plexiglass, but figuring it was about a half-mile along the dry creek bed that seemed to be easy enough. But of course, that distance was a direct line and after a mile along the meandering creek I found I wasn't even halfway there so I turned back. But this added side trip meant I added two miles and almost two hours to the hike, and for the first time in a LONG time, I ran out of water just under 2 miles from the TH and it was getting a bit toasty.

    Ok, now I'm just taking it easy, and stopping under every boulder that provided shade and a slight breeze, yet realizing the longer it took to get back the more dehydrated I'd be. So I tried to keep moving. With just a half-mile to the end my legs started to cramp bad just when I had to climb a steep slope to avoid the 40' dry fall. To finish the climb I had to pull myself up with my arms using my hiking poles. Once over that obstacle I had to focus on every step just to keep from stumbling on the rough and rocky creek bed.

    It felt great to reach the Jeep... the ordeal was over, I popped open the cooler, downed a good 32 oz my mix and filling two 16 oz bottles to drink from on the drive home. Good thing, because from Tortilla Flat it was the slowest I'd EVER driven back down Apache Trail due to someone in an SUV driving 10-20 MPH ALL the way down to to Needle Vista on 88, where he proceeded to take off like a shot, well over the limit... I think he was just messing with all of us following in line behind.

    But no matter, the views on the hike were awesome and made it all worthwhile, and I will be heading back soon, only with either enough fluids for an ALL-DAY hike, or stick to closer to my plan, which had been about 3 miles and 2 hours shorter. (I had enough fluid for that!)

    I posted 50 photos on HAZ, the full set of 82 is on my site as usual.

    Peak 3042 summit panorama video:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Apache Junction take SR88 out to FR80. Follow FR80 to gate, then either park there, or with a 4x4 go back 100 yards and drive down into the bowl just below FR80.
    page created by CannondaleKid on Jun 07 2014 12:07 pm
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