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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Baker Mountain - Aztec Peak Quad, AZ

no permit
48 2 0
Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,734 feet
Elevation Gain 854 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,380 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.3
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
18  2018-07-11
Murphy BM & Bear Encounter
48  2015-05-03 CannondaleKid
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,442
Trips 1,893 map ( 15,579 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:07am - 6:30pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Follow the old road... I don't see any road!
by CannondaleKid

Likely In-Season!
Baker Mountain is located in the Aztec Peak Quadrangle in Gila County. With a rise of 208' and an elevation of 7588' its Arizona Peaks Rank is 4555. GPS coordinates: 33.84238 -110.93927
For those familiar with the area Baker Mountain is the long ridge between Workman Creek and Reynolds Creek.

The obvious ones... watch the weather and watch for bears. We saw plenty of scat and also met a hunter who encounters them frequently, but don't worry he said, they just run away.

I've found nothing specific in reference to all the old logging roads, but of course there is an ancient ruin site on the cliffs above Workman Creek Falls.

Since probably 90% of the slopes of Baker Mountain are cliffs, unless you are really into scaling cliffs there is but one completely non-technical route, albeit a long and winding one.
The trailhead is on Forest Road 487 where an old logging road used begin, about .3 mile past Workman Creek Falls (upstream).

Arizona Topo refers to is as 'Trail 151' which is likely an old northern continuation of Abbey's Way trail which passes through the Peterson Ranch meadow and up to Aztec Peak.

Parking is available in the open area along FR 487 next to the loose dirt slope. From there begin by taking a northeasterly heading, following along the and up the slope to the left of the small creek. Continue until you connect with the old logging road, which is a far cry from even looking like it was once a road. Think of an old road that hasn't been used in 50-75 years and you'll get the idea.

Whatever, if you aren't following the GPS route provided, you will be well-pressed at times to keep from losing it. Once you reach the 90° turn to the left (from NE to NW) it is quite easy to follow for the next quarter-mile.
After passing through a fence (the gate has been long-gone) it's time for another 90° left turn, but exactly where to turn is the issue. We would find there used to be a number of logging roads going will-nilly along the long oddly-shaped ridge, so it's quite easy to lose track of the 'correct' route, but don't worry, since there are very few sections of thick brush, as long as you are continuing in the right direction, any route you take is fine.
Besides, what's left of a road will die off about a half-mile from the summit. From there you may pick and choose your own route, as long as you continue in a northerly direction. The last bit of climbing toward the summit is an easy grade, the hardest part avoiding or climbing over dead-fall.

Unfortunately, since the summit is wide, flat and surrounded by pine trees, the view is not exactly awe-inspiring. But in my opinion, the peacefulness of the wind whispering through the pines is well worth the effort.

The official GPS route is edited to make use of what's left of the roads as much as possible.
The 'Scenic Spur' GPS route provides an optional side-trip. Either follow the faint logging road out, returning the same way, along our wandering route, or just follow your whim. And remember, whatever route you take is correct, as long as you find your way back, that is.

Water Sources
While their may be the odd small pools here and there, they are not to be relied upon.
The small creek adjacent to the trailhead appears to have constant flow (complete with gauging station) and of course Workman Creek is very close.

There are a few dispersed camping sites within a quarter-mile just off Forest Road 487 along with many more sites a mile or two farther up the road to Aztec Peak.

No camping at the Day Use sites along Workman Creek or the Abbey's Way Trail 151 trailhead.

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.

2015-05-04 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 Reviews
    Baker Mountain - Aztec Peak Quad
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Murphy BM & Bear Encounter
    Another action-packed, yet incomplete hike...

    With so many of the areas still closed and the oppressively muggy weather in attendance at home, we figured we'd try another on-the-road-early and complete the hike before the thunderstorms set in kind of hike.

    Two hours and three minutes from home and we were on the trail shortly after 8 am... Ok, so we weren't as early as we planned, we did beat the thunderstorms. The goal wasn't really too specific, just reach the ridge to Murphy Benchmark, continue SE to Peak 7662, south until connecting with Abbey's Way Trail and back out to FR 487.

    Tracey never liked the drive along the cliff just before the falls, so we began the hike from the Falls Day-Use site, traveling Forest Road 487 on foot along the cliffs.

    Although the temperature was only mid-60's, we hadn't gone a half-mile before the high humidity reared its ugly head. And for me, by time we turned off FR 487 at about a mile into the hike, I was already soaked through-and-through. Already my skull cap was past its capacity to hold sweat and it was just pouring into my eyes. Yup, I can already tell this is gonna be a real fun hike. [-(

    While on FR 487, Tracey said something about wanting to see a black bear as she glanced across the canyon of Workman Creek... like it would be something to see one 'over there' but not close up.
    Oh no, be careful what you wish for... :-$

    And now, an hour into the hike Tracey got her wish... a black bear sighting! Only it WASN'T "across the canyon" but within 200 feet of us, and yup, you guessed it, it was right on our planned route.
    Tracey was immediately apprehensive... :scared:
    Me? My first thought was Cool! Our last bear encounter was on Mount Graham some 5 years ago, but it was so focused on rooting for grubs it was never aware of us. But this bear was not actively involved in feeding and was aware of us almost immediately.

    Ok, I have to get a few photos before giving it a wide berth. But the first few photos were worthless due to the camera focusing on trees between us so I figured I'd start filming and see what happens.

    As it turned and slowly moved toward us, on the video Tracey can be heard saying Shouldn't we make some noise? I figured probably so, but I wanted to give it a moment to see if it loses interest in us.

    It did not lose interest! As soon as it was clear the bear was continuing to approach us rather than turn away, I stopped filming. The moments later the bear began loping toward us so I blew my emergency whistle. When it kept coming I blew the whistle again but now it began charging at full speed! :doh:

    Ok, lesson learned in a hurry! ](*,)
    DO NOT blow a shrill whistle to scare off a bear!

    Being completely in the open, we quickly moved (at this point somebody was running away, but it wasn't me) to a stand of trees just under 300 feet away. Then I stopped to turn and face the bear, by which time it was within 50 feet and still coming on strong! Uh oh! What now?

    Quickly glancing around for ideas...
    Nope, we're not going to try climbing any tree...
    Use my hiking poles to fend it off? Nope #2...
    Aha! I picked up a chunk of totally black charred tree trunk (probably 4" in diameter and 8" long from the fire a few years ago) and threw it toward but not directly at the bear and yelled 'Go!' at which time it wheeled around, ran the away to a 6" diameter tree and quickly climbed up about six feet.

    WOW! Cool! Just like that I had treed the bear!

    Ok, so now what Einstein?
    I moved directly toward the bear while yelling a few more times when it dropped down from the tree and took off, loping away into a thicket of ferns, stopping a few times for a moment to glance back, then finally continuing on its way.

    In retrospect, we believe it was a young bear which may not have had human contact and was simply curious. Although it approached at speed, it never appeared aggressive. And although Tracey had her heart beating like crazy, I don't believe mine mine bumped up at all. If any part of me was at a racing pace, it was my mind working on the overall scenario, to figure out what was happening...
    Was it a mama bear protecting her cubs? No.
    How big was it? Bigger than I first thought.
    How old was it? Maybe a year on it's own.
    It it being aggressive? Other than picking up speed after I blew the emergency whistle, no.
    Was it just curious? It appears so.
    How do we end this without injury? (for all three of us) Scare it off...
    Add a million other thoughts between each line, all part of analyzing the situation as well as racking my brain for everything I'd heard about bear encounters.

    In the end everything turned out fine, although Tracey and would have PTSD through the rest of the hike, seeing a bear anytime there was another charred stump. :scared:

    YouTube Video: Black Bear Encounter

    Ok, that drama over, it's time to move on to our goal of reaching Murphy Benchmark. Nothing special for the next 35 minutes, although the brush was getting thicker and thornier the closer we approached to Murphy BM. Initially we were following narrow elk/deer trails through the brush but it soon became a back-tracking challenge.

    As we approached the worst of the brush, I get an electric stabbing pain from my right ankle... from WHAT?!!! ](*,)
    It's BELOW the top of the boot and my pants totally cover the boot. Whatever it was I had to stop it somehow, but try thrashing through locust thicker than I'd ever encountered before. I got stabbed from all directions before I found a spot open enough to get my boot off. As I pulled up my pant-leg, out flew something yellow... all I know is it left no stinger so it had to be some kind of wasp. Whatever, it was a nasty sting. :x
    (And yes about 30 hours later with a number of baking soda rubs into the sting area it is still a very sharp pain.)

    Once I got my boot back on and looked at the wall-of-thorns around us, we both came to the instant realization, this ain't happenin! While I had my trusty titanium shears, this was NEVER a trail, so it could take hours to cut through the last quarter mile to the benchmark, let alone continuing past it.

    Ok, we're outta here... back the way we came, or somewhat anyway. Of course Tracey was fine with taking a route farther AWAY from the bear encounter area. [-(

    One last near-high-drama... as we were dropping down a loose slope near FR 487, I looked down and saw what appeared to be an old honeycomb in a hole likely dug by a bear. It was gray so it looked dried up, and just when I stepped toward it and ready to tell Tracey, "Cool! An old honeycomb!" I saw a mass of bees on it... yet absolutely no buzzing sound at all. :o
    But I wasted NO time backing up and giving WIDE berth to the mass and hit-the-road in a hurry.

    While hoofing it the last half-mile to the TH we met a guy in a truck who stopped to tell us he'd seen two bears just above the road over the last couple miles. Ha!
    It was easy to top that with our close-encounter tale.

    Back to the car... dark clouds rolling in, cracks of thunder... yup, a good thing we cut the hike short, although to be fair, we didn't hit any hard rain on the whole drive back, just a few sprinkles near Globe. Not even enough to wash the dust off the 4Runner from the dust storms a few days ago... when my weather station reported a number of 50 mph gusts.
    Baker Mountain - Aztec Peak Quad
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    While Tracey asked for all ON-trail (or forest road) hikes this weekend, what can I say?
    Well, for the most part anyway it follows an old logging road... ok so it hasn't been used for maybe 70-75 years and it's so faint even those schooled in route-finding may not recognize it as such. Whatever, we're here, it's gonna get us the requested 10 miles, so let's get going.
    On the first part of the climb up to the ridge I saw something bright and white a few hundred feet off to the side that at first glance was either a skull or part of a skeleton. No, it's not a Mylar balloon, one of which the remnants were a bit closer. not wanting to be wandering off the route too soon, I marked a way point and we'd check it out on the return trip. Ok, so keep climbing.

    Once up on the ridge we encountered the remains of an elk spine. By the amount of other bones scattered around we thought it would be kind of cool if we found the skull. (be sure to remember that tidbit) We wandered a bit to the east, hoping for both the skull and a viewpoint toward Center Mountain. Negative to both...

    We began by hiking to the east, then turned south for the last bit to the ridge and now we're heading west again. In our wandering we managed to lose the faint road but would find bits and pieces of it every once in a while. but no matter, as long as we continued close to the GPS track I created we'd reach our destination. During this bit of wondering where's the road? we encountered a hunter. Although it was turkey season, his permit wasn't until next Friday, so he was scouting ahead of time. Although a bow hunter, since he had no valid permit this weekend he wasn't carrying.

    We had a nice chat with him, during the course of which we found out he frequents the area A LOT and knew pretty much where every set of bones were and what they were. When we mention the partial spine, he said it was an elk cow, and that he had harvested the skull earlier, which ended our mystery of the missing skull. He knew of at least three bears that he'd encountered enough times to feel like he knew them, yet they'd still run away if he made any sound. He also knew of at least mountain lion roaming the general area as well. We would encounter lots of bear scat during the hike and one of mountain lion, albeit not very recent. Ok, chat time is over, let's move on.

    We continued until an intersection where we chose to take a scenic side-trip, hoping again for some scenic views of Center Mountain and also the summit ridge of Baker. Baker is a somewhat curved ridge with a peninsula to the east, at the end of which we should see more of the cliffs surrounding Baker.

    We followed the faint road out, found a few spots to view Center Mountain, then over for a view of Baker. That's where I stepped on a Horned Lizard by mistake. Tracey saw it and called it to my attention afterward. Thankfully it was in a dip in the rock so was none-the-worse for wear. Then we returned from the side-trip along a wandering route, seeking out a viewpoint to the southeast. Nothing much but adding more climbing.

    Ok, now it's time to hike toward our destination instead of elsewhere. Eventually the faint road dies out and we continue along the western edge of the cliffs along a thin saddle on the way to the summit. All cross-country here, but it's still pretty open, dead-fall being the source of constant small detours. It continues the same on the last easy grade to the summit. At the summit it's just an open meadow of dead-fall surrounded by pine trees, so there's no awesome views here... with a bit of wandering, they are all to be found along the way.

    Overall it was a very enjoyable and peaceful hike... the wind whispering through the pines just added to the experience. In the end, Tracey was ok with none of it being ON-trail.
    As I said, not really much of s scenic summit, but I shot a video anyway:
    Baker Mountain summit panorama

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    US 60 east to Globe, AZ 188 northwest to AZ 288 (Young Highway), AZ 288 to FR 487 (Workman Creek Road), follow FR 487 .3 mile past Workman Creek Falls. TH is a small graded dirt area on the left just before a small creek. While it is NOT a designated trailhead as such, it is in Tonto National Forest and no permit is required to park there.
    page created by CannondaleKid on May 04 2015 12:38 pm
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it like you mean it
    help comment issue

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