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Newman Peak Trail, AZ

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Guide 25 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Oracle
4.4 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.78 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,845 feet
Elevation Gain 2,644 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,680 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18.18
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic & Peak
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2018-02-10 Jim_H
4  2018-01-13 Peter_Medal
3  2017-12-30 LindaAnn
5  2017-12-30 chumley
14  2017-01-12 GeeEss
4  2017-01-07 D_Slinky
9  2017-01-02 friendofThunderg
6  2017-01-02 LindaAnn
Page 1,  2,  3
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 74
Routes 667
Photos 13,162
Trips 1,416 map ( 10,534 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:32pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Hello, Jerry!
by chumley

Google might get you lost. Take the supplied driving route and understand it and the area before heading out for best odds.

Newman Peak is the tallest peak in the Picacho Mountains and rises to an elevation of 4511 feet. Despite being more than 1100 feet higher, Newman often plays second fiddle to Picacho Peak, it’s iconic neighbor just over 5 miles to the south. The overgrown and eroded remains of an old trail built in the 1930s leads up the western slopes to the summit.

Getting There
Much has changed since this trail was built – most significantly the CAP canal which now traverses the base of the mountain and makes it necessary to cross a remote canal bridge to access the former roadbed to the old mine. While the peak itself lies on BLM property, the approach is on State Trust Land (permit required) with pockets of private property. New gates, signs, and fences have changed over the past couple of years and there is no guarantee of access in the future. The driving directions for this hike are accurate as of the time of posting. If things change, please post a comment for future users.

The Hike
Start at the small parking area and head south to the bridge which crosses the canal. On the other side, head north again to find the old alignment of the road you parked on, which hasn’t been driven since the canal was constructed. Follow the roadbed for about .75 miles toward the tailings of an old mine. Stop and explore the mine area if you wish or continue up the drainage toward the peak. From here the route is an old trail marked with frequent cairns. The footing of the old trail can be seen in many places, but is overgrown in others. A keen eye can follow the original route.

At about 1.25 miles you will reach a large boulder spray-painted with an arrow. Ignore the paint and continue around the rock and continue on the old tread which parallels the main drainage.

The old trail grade begins to get steeper as you climb the drainage. At about 1.9 miles the trail cuts steeply to the left, through some of the thickest brush you will encounter. From here, the old route climbs very steeply up a narrow chute where some remnants of constructed switchbacks exist, but where you will mostly climb via whatever route is easiest for you, gaining 500 feet while traveling just 0.3 miles to a scenic saddle. Along the way you’ll pass some more spray painted directions that is a testament to the idiocy of those who have hiked here before you.

From the saddle at the top of the chute, the trail becomes more obvious once again and traverses the slope for about 100 yards before beginning a series of switchbacks up the final 400 feet to the summit. The old route here features remnants of beautifully constructed switchbacks as well as steps built into the side of the mountain.

On the summit, modern technology has taken over and numerous antennae, buildings, fences, and a helicopter landing pad dominate, though excellent views can be found in all directions.

You may return by the same route or you can make a loop traveling the treacherous off-trail ridge line traverse toward South Newman 4209 and follow the much-less traveled route down from the saddle ¼ mile east of that peak, which connects back to the route that leads back to the canal bridge and your parked vehicle. The loop return will add about an hour of time though not much more mileage to the stats posted. (An out-n-back trip to South Newman 4209 adds an additional mile and about an hour.)

So why is there an old trail to the summit of Newman Peak!? All my research points to the 1930s and the installation of an old airway beacon. In 1931 the beacon installed on Newman Peak completed the airway from El Paso to Phoenix. Previous airways had been established from Dallas to El Paso and from Phoenix to Los Angeles, so this completed the first possible nighttime flying route from Dallas to the west coast where pilots could “connect the dots” from one beacon to the other. Beacons were placed along the route at approximately 15 mile increments as well as on landmarks and mountaintops. Some of the beacons could be seen for 70 miles!

Installation of the 2-ton beacon required building roads or trails to access, and it’s possible that a tramway may have been set up to carry the equipment up the steepest part of the mountain. The beacons were powered by generators that were supplied with about two months of fuel at a time. Solar switches turned them on at sunset and turned them off again at sunrise. Despite only being fueled every two months, they were checked weekly by inspectors.

Those weekly visits by inspectors and bimonthly refueling trips (likely by pack animals) are the probable reason this trail was built and maintained. Airway beacons began to be replaced by radio navigation almost immediately, though they were not officially discontinued until 1973. I have not been able to determine when the beacon on Newman Peak ceased operation or when it was removed.

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.

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

2015-12-16 chumley
    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 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Newman Peak Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Scott suggested this and I was OK with it, so Newman Peak it was. Pretty nice, but the Casa Grand was having it's annual dust daze celebration, and it was headed to the NE, so the views were not as great as I recall. Scott thought it was too much like Bighorn, and I had my fill for a while. Still, a decent hike.
    Newman Peak Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Wasn't in the mood to be gone all day, so this seemed to be a perfect option. The route is in good shape, but there are a few agave up top that could use a solid trimming as well as the short mystery section just above the big spray painted boulder. I'll see if I can get out there again this season to do a little bit more upkeep.

    Great views today. It's one of the highlights of this peak. 360 views to the Supes, Four Peaks, Picketpost, Pinals, Turnbull, Teresas, Galiuros, Rincons, Catalinas, Babo, Coyote, Kitt, Ragged Top, Table Top, and the Estrella.

    Back home before lunch, which was nice, because truth be told it was borderline warm today. ](*,)
    Newman Peak Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Inspired by recent triplogs and Agave photos, up we went to explore the local flora. Fantastic! The Agave population here is unique, but unique enough to merit a new taxon? No way to know without returning for a murderous ascent in June to collect blooms. We also found other interesting horticultural shenanigans beyond our field of interest, and have forwarded this info to other botanists, who will undoubtedly pay a visit in the near future. Recent trail work by chumley was obvious and extremely helpful, we were particularly appreciative of recent cairns for staying on track. We waste a lot of time examining and photographing plants on our excursions, so time is always an issue, and losing trails doesn't help. The 700' chute is long but not too steep and not particularly difficult, much easier to manage than some horizontal boulder crawls of recent memory.

    I see now there are two other well traveled routes to the top. Can anyone weigh in on a comparison of the three routes? I see one is shorter with less elevation gain. How do these routes compare?
    Newman Peak Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I was coming in from the North side so I decided to take E Houser Rd to S Brady Pump Rd and continue down to the parking area. The dirt road was a little rough but I made it through in my stock height F150 without issue. High clearance is definitely required but you could probably make it through in 2WD. I put my truck in 4H for good measure. The road does get pretty rocky in a few areas.

    I parked and crossed the canal. When I was about 0.5 miles on the trail I came across a guy in camo and carrying a bow. He asked if I had seen another hunter closer to the canal which I had not. He was the only person I saw until I got back out to Houser Rd. The recent trail maintenance and cairns made route finding easy and I kept making my way towards the peak. The chute was steep as expected but once you get out of it the tread picks up and you can follow the switchbacks to the top. The views up top are amazing. Heading back down was a little slow, but otherwise uneventful. The weather was perfect and between the mountains and clouds I was in the shade for most of the day.

    When I was headed back out on Brady Pump Rd I could see a bunch of cars parked along Houser Rd. As I got closer I could see people standing around the cars and blocking the West bound lane. There was also a bunch of cloth in the road. I was really confused until I got right up to them and figured out that the cloth was parachutes. I didn’t think anything else of it until a little later when I saw a truck on Houser heading East with a pole sticking up in the bed and a line coming off of it. They were parasailing using the truck :)
    Newman Peak Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was a fun little peak to break in the New Year with @lindaagm. I really like the rugged little challenge this desert peak offers, along with its views and lack of visitors.

    The trail is in much better shape than last year, with some newly reclaimed switchbacks and freshly cleared paths through what was previsiouly overgrown (the work of @chumley). However, one might have had to see this trail before the maintenance work to truly appreciate. Great temps all day and even a little chilly on top. Some great views too, probably capped by a snow covered Mt. Lemon. I did step us off the trail a few times, but mainly due to not paying attention, the trail/route is pretty well established. A standard trip down, a little slow and meticulous at first, but a pretty qucik trip back to the trailhead overall.
    Newman Peak Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Spent a few hours on the mountain today. Things started off with a javelina standing guard on the canal bridge. I was able to use human wits to outmaneuver him without having to fire a single shot! :)

    The first two miles took over three hours. I think I cut down 20 palo verde trees. Whenever I lost the tread, I backtracked to find it, removed all the cairns that went off-route, re-cairned as necessary, and removed any vegetation that was in the tread.

    I finally decided I had to put the tools back in my pack and just hike. The sun was warm and I had been working much harder than anticipated. Down to half a liter of water I decided I could survive the remaining 1700-foot climb and get back to the car. Of course, I got side tracked with trail work again. One of my goals for the day was to get rid of the only real patch of catclaw, which occurs at the dogleg left just at the base of the chute. It's like a highway now. :y:

    There's still some work to be done, but I did manage to re-establish one of the switchbacks above the chute that had been lost to brush. The bypass was well worn but way too steep, so getting that one back will be helpful for future users.

    There's still a bit of a mystery above the "direction rock". I never did find the old tread here and there are a bunch of cairns leading in different directions. I'd like to figure out the original and reestablish it next time.

    More work to be done. Especially on the small desert scrub, but that stuff is easy to walk through and doesn't hurt. With just a few exceptions, most of the prickly stuff and the big obstacles are gone now. One more day out there should get it done!

    * It's still free to park! :)
    Newman Peak Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Short hike but be prepared for steep climbing on a faint trail. There are lots of cairns, maybe too many, to help you decide where to change directions. There are also painted arrows on the rock at a few points. There is an especially helpful one after the trail turns to the north that tells you which direction is up and which is down (I see you rolling your eyes). Good thing we took along a spray can of white paint to freshen up these arrows........just kidding. Whoever painted these wasn't much of a route finder and/or didn't have much confidence in anyone elses.

    This is a beautiful canyon with outstanding rock formations along the way and 360 degree views at the top, including a pretty unique take on Picacho Peak just across I-10. The hike seems harder than the stats, but it is all about trying to keep your footing. Lots of loose rock and some thorny plants on the north part. Don't try to rush this hike; too many places to take a header.

    A tip is to follow rwstorm's driving track out Milligan Road from I-10 Exit 211. Mountain Rat sent me one also which is identical to rwstorm's. Once you reach the corral, go through the gate (marked Trust Land and "No Tresspassing", but the gate is not locked and we didn't have any issues). After turning south on Power Line Road, the road gets much rockier and you'll need high clearance but not 4WD if dry. You can park within 200 feet of the little bridge across the CAP canal.
    Newman Peak Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I read in a triplog that this peak/hike was a must for lovers of desert peaks. That statement proved to be very correct. I have recently discovered that I am developing an affinity for desert peaks and this one further supported that recent development.

    I used the official route and recent posted description for Newman Peak Trail to attack this rugged little summit. I did a little more research than usual for this somewhat spur of the moment selection, however, I should have did a little more, as this definitely proved to be a not very dog friendly hike. I was still able to get both dogs up, but do as I say and not as I did on this one and leave the dogs at home. Its downright treacherous for the four legged type in several spots, carrying and hoisting will be necessary, its very steep and there is enough cholla along the route to ruin any good dogs day. That being said, great peak and fun route! Its pretty amazing how one can see the cut of the trail in several spots from the moment you pull up. However, don't let that fool you too much, the trail is there and the trail is not there, if that make sense. Its easy enough to follow, as there are several examples of trail construction, a heavy tread and no shortages of cairns. However, some may still find it a little too rugged in spots and the route finding challenging, if it is not what they are accustomed to.

    Getting to the trailhead may be more difficult for some than the trail. The drive in is a tad tricky, but the written directions were pretty spot on and downloading the drive-in-directions under alt-routes will take out any other guess work.
    Newman Peak Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I met up with Jim this morning and we headed down some dirt roads to our launching pad. I had driven past and looked at the Picacho Mountains a thousand times in my life, but never before so closely. It’s rare that a mountain can bring me to doubt, but this one had before we had even reached the parking area. It’s a brutally steep field of boulders which has somehow managed to support enough vegetation to put a mild hurt on any who would pass here (though I did far less bleeding today than usual).

    The first 7/10 mile was pretty easy and seemed to follow the remains of an old two track of some sort, leading to an old mine site. The following 1.2ish miles was a bit more of a climb and would show itself off and on as trail snippets, but in any absence of actual trail, there were always cairns nearby (fantastic system of cairns the entire way). At about 1.9 miles in, we turned north-northwest and the climb began. This is the bulk of the hike. We stared straight up a 1/2+ mile chute that is loose and very steep. This is where we started making some elevation gain. The GeePuS was erratic as the walls closed in, but there was really little variance possible in a 30 foot wide slot. It’s not like we could have gotten lost in the middle of this section. At the top of the chute, we made a turn back east again for the final 1/4ish mile to the peak. The final approach was pretty straight forward and I felt like I could hit it with a rock, though in reality, No! We did finally make the peak and as close as I can tell, in 2 hours, 42 minutes which included one 15ish minute break (so about 2-1/2 hours up).

    Our break at the top was nearly an hour. Now getting toward mid-afternoon, the warm clothes were going back on. As it seems to go at the peaks; cool, breezy and I may be wrong, but we may have at a higher elevation than the sun :? I know we were looking down on Picacho Peak. Anywho, we set out on our return, slipping, sliding, getting off track as on the way up, but at a much better pace, finishing in about 2 hours and a couple of minutes. Nice run. Once down, we made a hasty charge toward the real roads to beat darkness, a couple of miles away, making it out just as my fenix3 buzzed sundown (and it was dead on).

    I didn’t even pay any attention to this range before Jim suggested it a week or two ago. It never made my list before being checked off, but this one, and it’s neighbors could well rate return trips.

    Thanks Jim. Good call and we shall hike together again soon.
    Newman Peak Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Perfect conditions for doing this with the sharp vegetation on a lot of the trail. The road in was more of the challenge for the route, and once at the bridge over the CAP canal, it was pretty easy to find the trail to the summit. Only in a few spots was it confusing, but then you knew where you were going. Cairns, shockingly well built sections of trail with stairs and graded switchbacks that are now long abandoned was very easy to follow at times, and sad to see long forgotten by most hikers. Good to be back on Newman, and if I go again this is the way to do it. I do think the stats don't reflect the difficulty, but it makes a perfect hike for someone like me, this time of year.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Land Recreational Permits are available for an individual ($15.00), or a family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18 ($20.00).

    Land Parcel Map

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    Exit I-10 on exit 211 southeast of Eloy onto AZ-87. Travel north just less than 1 mile from the freeway and turn right onto Mulligan Road. Follow for 3 miles until the pavement ends. Jog south just a few yards and continue east on the dirt road between farm fields for one mile before crossing onto State Trust Land. Drive respectfully here as it is entirely possible that the farmer that owns this property may restrict access if he wishes.

    A quarter mile past the farm and you will reach a canal crossing. Once across, pass through the unlocked gate* and proceed east 1 mile to the power line road.

    Turn south on the power line road and follow for 1.5 miles. This section of road is increasingly rocky and some of the wash crossings will absolutely require high clearance and some may require 4wd. Turn left on the road at 1.5 miles and follow the final hundred yards to the parking area up against the canal where the hike begins.

    Alternate Route: Drive north from I-10 on AZ-87 4 miles and turn right on Houser Road. Take Houser 5 miles east to Brady Pump Road. South on Brady Pump 1.5 miles to the canal pumping station. Bypass the pumping station and travel south on the dirt power line road 3.5 miles to the left turn to the trailhead.

    *If this gate is locked you may bypass this section by staying left here. GPS tracks for the driving routes are available by clicking on the “alternative routes” option for this hike.

    page created by chumley on Dec 16 2015 10:16 pm
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