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).
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.