Let the Games Begin!
Of the 8 named peaks that are easily accessed via Hunter’s Access [aka FR 684], the unofficially named “Map Edge Peak” is the shortest to reach, both in distance and in time. However, in terms of the “fun factor”, this peak takes definitely takes the prize. About 0.05 miles after setting foot out of your vehicle, the bushwhacking begins; and about 0.30 miles after that you’ll be scrambling up rock crags and negotiating some fun/basic Class 3 climbs to reach the Northern part of the peak’s ridgeline. After that, it’s literally a hop, skip, and a jump over some boulders to reach the highpoint. If you’re not quite ready for Class 3 climbs, you can still enjoy this awesome peak by simply doing and out-and-back using my return route. Basic scrambling skills will still be needed, but it’s definitely toned down in terms of the difficulty factor relative to the ascent for the loop version described below. Finally, while I was not able to find any history regarding the peak’s catchy, unofficial name, my best guess is that it was named based on it’s location, which practically falls on the Northeast Edge of it’s quadrangle [Murphy Peak Quadrangle] and the three neighboring quadrangles [Tubac, Amado, & Saucito Mountain], as shown here.
Hike: The route is straightforward in terms ending up on the correct peak; however, as I mentioned above, if Class 3 climbs are a concern, then do you don’t want to attempt this peak via the approach described here. If Class 3 climbs are your idea of a good time, read on! As I mentioned above, the fun begins almost as soon as you set foot out of your vehicle: from the trailhead, simply walk back down the unnamed jeep road in the direction that you drove in, walk across FR 684, and then start bushwhacking toward the high point in from of you. It’s literally only about 0.05 miles from the TH to the start of the off-trail portion, if following my route.
As you begin your bushwhack, you’ll be headed toward a large rock crag, [which is insignificant enough that it’s not even shown on Cal / FS Topo maps]. My route skirts the rock crag to the South [right] while heading SE up a small drainage. However, once I gained some elevation, I could see that the rock crag was totally doable for those looking to avoid the somewhat brushy drainage.
Right about at the contour line representing 4,160’ on the topo, I angled my track slightly to the NE as I approached a very craggy part of the mountain. It’s difficult to describe the exact location, so if you’re at all hesitant and/or plan to follow my route exactly, then I highly recommend using a GPS app/device like Route Scout. You’ll basically be heading toward a very cliffy/craggy section that doesn’t offer too many options without ropes/gear. Thus, I just opted for what looked like it would get me to the top the safest. There were a couple of climbs that were easy Class 3 / at the upper end of Class 2, and shortly after that was a short chute, which was definitely the most difficult part, and definitely Class 3. However, difficult is all relative; if you’re the type that typically handles Class 3 climbs with ease, then negotiating the chute will likely come as fun and easy… at least as far as the bouldering is concerned! Adding to the “fun” is a mesquite-like shrub growing at the base of the chute, and there isn’t good maneuverability around it. Taller folks will likely be able to maneuver over/above it while continuing to scramble up the chute, while shorter folks will need to squeeze under, [which is what I opted for]. Either option will likely result in a few scratches; welcome to the wonderful world of off-trail peak bagging! The good news is, despite the very cliffy appearance in some places, the exposure is mild [or at the very worst, at the easy end of moderate].
After the negotiating the chute, it’s literally a short and easy boulder hop Southward to the summit. Like most of the other peaks in the Hunter’s Access area, the views from Map Edge Peak are stunning! With many unique shaped peaks to marvel at in the immediate vicinity, along with beautiful ranges like the Santa Ritas and Baboquivaris in the distance, you’ll be treated to 360 of awesomeness atop Map Edge. The high point is obvious and there is a summit cairn and small register. To say the peak does not get a lot of action would be an understatement. If you have hiking buddies that brag when they reach what they consider a “remote” summit because they are the first to sign in the past 6 months and/or there are fewer than 10 sign-ins over the course of the past year, then just pay Map Edge Peak a visit and you’ll give new meaning to “remote”. I was the first one to sign the register since February of 2002; and from the first signs in on 12/8/01 to when I signed on 10/13/16, there are only 5 names in the register, including mine. Enough said!
The descent off Map Edge is very straightforward. Scramble downward, heading almost due East from the highpoint, and you’ll soon arrive at a small saddle area. Before continuing the descent, I scrambled up to the prominent point that’s located almost due East of the small saddle area, and I highly recommend it. You’ll be treated to some pretty awesome views, and you’ll also have a very nice view of Map Edge Peak. Once back at the saddle area, head West while dropping downward to the South for about 0.10 miles; next continue your descent while angling more to the SE for about 0.07 miles, and finally curve around for the next 0.30 to the SW and you’ll soon be back on FR 684. It’s definitely possible to do a more direct line from the saddle area back out to FR 684, [I did some extra contouring to avoid what looked like a steeper section with loose footing]. If you don’t plan on using GPS, just remember that heading South at the first saddle area [that’s located almost due East of Map Edge Peak], and then SW at the next saddle area, will get you back to FR 684. Once on FR 684, it’s about a 1/2 mile stroll back to your vehicle.
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.