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Mazatzal Peak Summit, AZ

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753 72 4
Guide 72 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
4.5 of 5 by 21
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 11.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,200 feet
Elevation Gain 3,718 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,400 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 10 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 33.75
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2018-10-28 trekkin_gecko
24  2018-10-28 chumley
13  2018-10-27 DixieFlyer
19  2018-10-04 DixieFlyer
25  2018-08-12
Choose Life: Suicide Ridge to Mazatzal Peak
21  2018-03-29 DixieFlyer
11  2017-11-04 te_wa
14  2017-10-29 DallinW
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author Fritzski
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 0
Photos 597
Trips 59 map ( 132 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
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Humphries Buster
by Fritzski

This is a loop hike beginning at the Barnhardt Trailhead. It takes the Barnhardt Trail to about the 4 mile point, freestyle your way to the top, then a fairly direct route down to the Y Bar Trail for the return.

Definitely the most difficult hike I've done, surpassing the Superstition Ridgeline in my opinion At over 3700' in elevation gain, I believe it to be the most this side of Tucson or Flagstaff (Weatherford Tr). Within the 12mi loop is a total accumulated gain/loss of over 5100'. Add to this the fact that no trail exists for much of the hike making route finding and bushwhacking skills a must. Okay, that being said, if you're still with me here's how I tackled it - knowing a multitude of possible routes exist - this one most possibly not being the best. But what the hey, it worked!

I carefully preplanned the route using covert intelligence gathered from flying over and copiously studying my mapping software to determine the easiest route to the top. Well, that was my first mistake. I was convinced that attacking it from a gully or ridge at the top of the Barnhardt Tr would be the easiest - but which one? Turns out that two things I could not determine from 16,000' or on my computer screen were that #1: tiny rock formations as seen from the air are veritable fortress walls on the ground, and #2: all that nice greenery is an impenetrable wall of pretty Manzanita bushes. Oh well, so after having all the waypoints preloaded in my GPS, it came back down to winging it in the end (although having loaded the peak itself as a waypoint proved to be very handy).

Map I got to my predetermined point to depart Barnhardt at about the 2.5mi point only to find a forty foot wall completely blocking that gully. It just happens to be the same wall that forms the well known "waterfall" on Barnhardt. Jeeze! I should have remembered that. Moving on to find a suitable point of attack I had to bypass the Sandy Saddle Trail intersection and the endless Manzanita forest before settling on a gully right at the 4mi point. There is a beautiful little well-used camping spot on the downhill side of the gully.

After suiting up, it was a full on brush-crash up the gully. Fortunately the whacking began to let up at about a half mile in. Basically from there to the top is a matter of trying to determine the path of least resistance. I did find both my compass and GPS to be of great help. You cannot get a true visual shot of the peak till the very end.

The brush is agonizing in areas and the loose rock and thick pine needles can make for precarious footing. I followed a series of gullies and ridges as I slowly meandered toward the top. The rocky peak you first see, and are convinced has to be Maz Peak despite what that "obviously malfunctioning" GPS is telling you, is not. A side trip to this peak as I did, may still be the best way up and offers some stunning views of its own. The actual, and less spectacular, Maz Peak is now plainly visible just a quarter mile away.

The views from the top are very "Four Peaks-ish" with the obligatory survey marker and ladybugs clustered everywhere. The scenery is typically surreal as one would suspect at nearly 8000'. To the south, Four Peaks and the Superstition Ridge punctuate the skyline and down to the west one can easily pick out the Maz Divide Trail far below.

My original plan was to return via the same route, but being as difficult as it was, I was sure there must be an easier way down. That was my second mistake. Looking directly down to the south I could see the Y Bar Tanks area of the Y Bar Trail only about 1mi away. On a previous hike having looked up from below at this route (recommended by Grubb in his book "Hiking Arizona's Maz & Supe Mtns") I swore I'd never attempt it. Ever since I read that book I had reservations regarding his judgments and now I know why. The route down this chute is long, steep, treacherous and the most difficult part of the hike. Very loose rock and bushes making the going slow. When I finally hit the Y bar Trail I just laid there in the middle of the trail for about ten thankful minutes.

Anybody who knows the Y Bar Trail knows its an arduous 4.5 mile slog back to the trailhead. Guess it was just good to be on a trail at all!

In retrospect, I would recommend this hike only for those hearty souls feeling in need of bagging the highest peak in central AZ. Take lots of water, long pants, and gaiters if you got 'em.

One last note, I took 120oz. of water (20 of it for my mutt), but given the warm temp (94F in the valley that day), it was not enough (that was my third mistake if you're keeping count!). I had some rather bothersome symptoms of dehydration through the last two miles which wasn't fun. Talk about timing - got back to the trailhead right at dark after a "fun and frolic" filled ten hours. At least that part worked out according to plan!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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

2001-10-16 Fritzski
    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 26 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My intrepid hiking partner, Tracie, and I decided to make our first trip up to the Mazatzal Peak summit. We started at the Barnhardt TH and took the Y-Bar trail for 4.3 miles. The Y-Bar trail is easy to follow, but it is mostly covered with baseball sized rocks, so this trail is not the easiest on your feet. At that point we got off the trail and followed the route posted by mrbeermug on March 17, 2018. This route to the summit is a total bushwhack, as there is no semblance of a trail whatsoever, and the route is not intuitive at all. I wound up looking at my GPS almost constantly to see if I was on the recommended route -- we got up there, but it took about 3 hours to the 1.6 miles from the Y-Bar trail to the summit. If I do this hike again, I will take a different path up to the summit.

    The views on top are awesome, and are some of the best that I have seen on any peak. We found the survey marker and the hiking register at the top. There were also lots of ladybugs up there.

    The descent took a while also, and we followed the route back down to the Barnhardt Trail that was posted by lindaagm on October 27, 2017. We basically followed a couple of washes down the 2.6 miles from the summit to the Barnhardt Trail. It wasn't too bad of a descent, although there lots of deadfall and small trees that you had to negotiate your way around.

    Once we made it the Barnhardt Trail, it was about 4.75 miles back to the TH.
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Lesa convinced me, after doing Wrightson a couple weeks back, that we need to continue climbing respectable peaks. I slipped and mentioned Mazzie peak as being, in my memory, a "pain in the ass". so naturally, she loves the idea of a challenge and jots it down on the bucket list. i should know by now when to keep my mouth shut. :o
    we hit this trail at 9:20 thinking it would be an easy assault from the southern flanks coming up from cactus saddle. having a quick snack break here (#2, the first about 2 miles in along shake tree) we were ready to scoot booty up the path we agreed upon from the bottom. scrambling up and pushwhacking (yes, with a P) we mostly followed the route we scouted from the bottom. there were a bit of non-agreeable areas that we had to skirt around. no problems, yet. it was slow going, steep and tested our navigation skills. not too bad, obvious routes exist and you can make good or bad choices here, depending on how well you pick a point in the distance, follow it, then continue in this fashion. there are cairns along the way but following most of them seems fruitless since there are a dozen ways to skin this cat. just head UP, staying away from cliffs and a big manzanita forest that grows closer to the top 2/3 of the ridge. we stopped for a bit about halfway up, and were greeted by an amazing although short-lived airshow! one, then 2 F-16 falcons came ripping out of deadman canyon and across the mazzy peak area UPSIDE DOWN and then did a half-roll to right themselves only to scream past us and over a ridge towards mt. peeley and out of sight deep into another canyon (deer creek, iirc). it was quite the sight. the fighters were prolly within 6-700 feet of us, and i could clearly see the pilot. LOUD.
    so, pushing on, we found our way to the top of this ridge and continued on to the peak, now with fast moving clouds dropping light rain. up top, photos of course.. then a quick snack, trip register autographs and thumbing through the list i noticed several of our own HAZ member's scribblings. at this point i had already suggested following John's route down so we took suicide ridge around the bend and headed down into the ravine just before that area where 2 drainages converge. here, we scrambled and hopped boulders for likely a mile, mile and a half pushing our tired bodies to pick up the barnhardt trail, and both of us thankful that it would be a quick 4 miles back to the truck. barnhardt has this funny tendency to feel easy going up, and short, to the saddle/intersection with the divide trail, but hella longer going back out and downhill. funny, that! we passed a few twenty-something preppy kids coming in, and after i told them where this trail stops, and made sure they had provisions and a headlamp especially, made our way up to the big kahuna, and back to the vehicle. all 8 hours 45 minutes of a big ol, ass kicking hike. it was mostly dark when we arrived, then drove out towards mesa to watch a rising full moon. following John Fritz' route might not be the easiest or most rewarding way to do this trip (we did fritzski's loop in reverse this time) but it felt good. it felt old school. it was worth it. now, to keep my mouth shut before i slip and mention something like R2R2R so that will be penciled in, some where, on some calender, soon. :scared:
    GREAT trip. it's 5 stars all day long. GREAT company, Lesa is a stormtrooper. i kept feeling the need to compare this trip to Wrightson, but it's definitely tougher. we'll come up with a hike that surpasses this one in epic views, awesome scrambling, intense satisfaction.... but it won't be easy. rincon peak, perhaps?
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I'd been in talks with both Linda and Dallin about this one, so we decided to combine forces. My last journey here was solo, so it was nice to have some good company. We met at the TH at 7am and started up Y-Bar shortly after. The roller coaster of rocks is a perfect little warm-up before the off-trail begins. The route to the summit seemed much easier this time. Some bushwacking, a few scrambles, a few scratches, but nothing miserable. We used teamwork to achieve the objective. Between my sharp eyes, Dallin's route finding and a bossy, backseat driver, we made good time. The summit was nice, as usual. Great central AZ views. We enjoyed a lunch and started back down the north facing drainage. Beyond the big waterfall, we were treated to a fall wonderland we didn't quite expect. The entire area was bone dry, not even a stagnant pool. Lots of fun climbing down this drainage, but we were happy to be back on trail, upon reaching Barnhardt. We cruised on back to the TH. Didn't see another person all day and weather was perfect and fall-like. Great day in the Mazzies.
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Arrived at the TH to cool temps, ALMOST chilly. Cruised up Y-bar to the saddle before dipping off trail.

    We all suffered through the sea of Manzanita as we worked our way up the ridge to the peak. A lot of fun scrambles, and even some climbs if you choose, along this section. As Linda says in her triplog, it's as easy or as hard as you want to make it. There were always other options.

    The views on top are great! The sky was pretty clear so we could see plenty of landmarks. The Rim, San Francisco Peaks, Sedona, Four Peaks, Superstition Ridgeline, Ord, Sierra Ancha, ect... You can see a lot of places from this peak!

    On the descent down the north drainage, our enemy switched from Manzanita to thorny shrubs and Oak. After an initial patch of brush, the rest of the drainage is mostly a boulder hop. The bypass for the falls is steep but there are plenty of things to grab on to. The old dead wood, and dead leaves hiding holes in the wash keep you on your toes.

    We reached Barnhardt where it intersects the drainage we had been following and cruise back to the TH. Barnhardt is in amazing condition at the moment: wide, no downed trees, tread reworked in places.

    Glad to have finally tagged this one, I've been eyeing it for over a year. Great weather, great company! I will definitely be a repeat offender.
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Absolutely gorgeous weather for getting out hiking and since I was after clear sky conditions for this, it was a great day for it. Bugling Elk just off the summit were fun, and I saw no one all day. I'm so happy monsoon season is gone, and the lovely dry weather is here. I'm optimistic for Fremont on Friday, but the forecast is less than optimal. Still with conditions like this, one has to get while the getting is good.
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    11 months ago when Linda and I did this, we felt that it would make more sense to go up and down the description's descent route using the drainage. So, that's what I did on this low grade monsoon to monsoon break day, which made for a pretty nice day to summit the peak. I was all alone out there until almost back to the TH when I ran in to some bow hunters. Very nice, too, with lots of flowers, lingering birds calling, and plenty of water pools.

    Visibility was great, even with the clouds. The air seemed clear and so the distant view points with the Peaks, the Baldy and White Mountains, Pinalenos, Pinals, and Sierra Ancha were all enjoyable. Played with last year's GPS, and since I more or less stuck to the route, if anything I did a little more going up the to the ridge too soon, I feel the stats are reliable. Lots of very friendly NM locust on that ridge to the west of the gully.
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I'm surprised so few have done this hike. It is tough, but not impossible, and were it not for a few spots, it wouldn't be bad at all. Someday I want to do this again, and if so, I plan to go up and down the north gully, as that improved stuff a lot. No leg stabbing agave!

    Early morning smoke fog lifted from the valley by the summit and views were outstanding, except to the east, but I can live with that. I'm sloppy as a hiker, and it took me two deep shin crapes and a leg stabbing with a spurt of blood, to make the top. Totally worth it! Linda and I spent a relaxing hour on top, and then descending without incident, as it should be. Very good to have a partner and GPS for this, as it upped the confidence level on the descent, which is pretty enjoyable, but slightly questionable if going blind.
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Great day for this hike given this weekends cool-down, it even felt good in direct sunshine. This was my first time on this summit and only 2nd time on the adjoining trails, looks a lot different than I remembered. I started up Shake Tree and summited from that side of the peak. Taking a terrible route, I found myself having to down-climb and backtrack a couple of times but not too bad. Started seeing cairns about half way up. Had the summit all to myself and definitely enjoyed the views and breeze while having lunch. I wanted to stay up there all day, but had to get moving. For my descent I took the nearest drainage wash down before connecting with Barnhardt. Just a few small pools left behind. No catclaw to speak of, only locust and manzanita, but none of it was too seriously obstructive. The worst of the locust was my fault for even getting into (and for wearing shorts). Only saw one deer and a bunch of cattle grazing at the TH. Didn't see any hikers until crossing paths with a pair of lady backpackers who were heading up Barnhardt on my way down. Shortly after passing them a military jet of some kind flew right over me and down into Tonto Basin before disappearing. The sound of its engines in the canyon was extemely loud but thrilling. Finished off 170oz of water and a Gatorade once back at the TH. Donated a little blood and a lot of sweat but it was all worth it.
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Great hike though we probably hit this a little early in the season-- it was a tad bit toasty. I'm glad I left the dog at home.

    Chumley and I both remembered the bushwacking being less sharp which ended up with the four of us in shorts and cut to shreds-- pretty typical day in the Mazzies ;)
    Mazatzal Peak Summit
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Some people who care about stats too much needed to get some kind of a peak or county high point or something. I'm not sure.

    We jumped the gun on the Mazzies by a few weeks this season I think. It was warm at 7:30 and it was downright hot in the afternoon. I forgot how much I hate Y-Bar. Call it Shake Tree if you want, it doesn't make it any better.

    The summit is great though and the views are as good as anywhere in the state. Humphreys, Kendrick, Sitgreaves, BW, Mingus, Pine, Mcdowells, Piestewa, White Tanks, Estrella, Newman, Supes, Pinals, Turnbull, Graham, Lake Roosevelt, Ancha, Baldy, Escudilla, and the entire Mogollon Rim. Babo is visible on a clear day, which today wasn't. I think only the Kofas are not normally visible from here!

    It seems more overgrown than last time. The summit climb is only a mile, but the 1600 feet took us well over an hour.

    Blanco is a superstar! Nothing else to say on that.

    Saw a group of four heading out on an overnight. HAZ sticker in the window. I'd be interested to hear how their trip went. :welcome:

    Thanks FOTG for providing the ride.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Barnhardt Trailhead
    From the corner of SR87 & SR260 in Payson go south on SR87 for 14.5 miles to the signed turnoff for Barnhardt trailhead (forest road 419). Follow FR419 5 miles to its end. The parking area is fairly large. Barnhardt trailhead is located at the west end of the parking area. From Phoenix take SR87 north out of Mesa to Payson. The turnoff to the trailhead is 4mi north of the 188 intersection. (think rest stop)

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 83.4 mi - about 1 hour 45 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 182 mi - about 3 hours 4 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 126 mi - about 2 hours 31 mins
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