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Let the Games Begin!
Of the eight 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 time. However, in terms of the “fun factor,” this peak 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 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 merely doing an out-and-back using my return route. Basic scrambling skills will still be needed, but it’s 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 its location, which practically falls on the northeast edge of its quadrangle [Murphy Peak Quadrangle] and the three adjacent quadrangles [Tubac, Amado, & Saucito Mountain], as shown here.
Hike: The route is straightforward in terms of 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, 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 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 doable for those looking to avoid the somewhat brushy drainage.
Right about at the contour line representing 4,160’ on the topo, I slightly angled my track 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 or plan to follow my route exactly, then I highly recommend using a GPS app/device like Route Scout. You’ll 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 the most challenging part, and Class 3. However, problematic 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! Despite the very cliffy appearance in some places, the good news is the exposure is mild [or at the very worst, at the easy end of moderate].
After negotiating the chute, it’s a short and easy boulder hop Southward to the summit. Like most of the other peaks in the Hunter’s Access area, Map Edge Peak's views 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 a 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 six months or there are fewer than ten sign-ins for the past year, then visit Map Edge Peak, and you’ll give new meaning to “remote.” I was the first 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 five 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 located almost due East of the small saddle area, and I highly recommend it. You’ll be treated to some pretty fantastic views, and you’ll also have a lovely 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 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, 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.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.