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Kings Crown crowned king of rocks
This hike is mostly off-trail on steep terrain covered in loose rocks and thorny things. There is not a bit of shade along the entire route.
Kings Crown Peak, at 5,541 feet, forms the high point of the western rim of the Pinal Mountains above Superior, Arizona. A few hours of effort will bring a panoramic view of the Pinal and eastern Superstition Mountains areas for those who summit. No trails ascend the peak. The hike described below is the shortest, easiest, and most straight-forward route and ascends the peak's eastern side.
In 1870, U.S. military General George Stoneman located a mountain valley at the site of present-day Top of the World village, where he planned to establish Camp Pinal as a part of military strategy during the so-called Apache Wars. At that time, the Pinal Mountains were a rough, roadless country and home to the Pinal Apache. Stoneman had his troops construct a trail to the new Camp Pinal site that traversed the western slope of what would later become known as Kings Crown Peak.
There are several historical, royalty-related names to be found in the geography surrounding Kings Crown Peak. In the valley west of Kings Crown Peak, the Silver King Mine was Arizona’s richest single silver mine, officially discovered in 1875 by prospectors traveling the Stoneman Grade. The Silver Queen Mine, two miles southwest of the Peak, was discovered not long after and later became the Magma Mine (today’s Resolution Copper mine). At the base of Kings Crown Peak is Queen Creek, named for the village of Queen (today’s Superior), which grew up around the Silver Queen Mine. Kings Crown Peak itself is supposedly named for a crown-like formation of hoodoo rocks found on the peak's nearly sheer western face.
This description begins at the easiest access point for this hike, which is at the locked gate on Forest Road 2458, a short distance off U.S. Highway 60. The locked gate has signs that say, “road closed to public use” and “mine traffic only”, but the mine that the sign mentions is abandoned (as of 2021), and the portion of the road that accesses the route I describe is on U.S. Forest Service land, not private property. If you are told differently, hike in the bed of Queen Creek canyon, which the road parallels a few feet away. If you are advised not to hike the road by the Forest Service or mine owner, please have the managing agency contact the webmaster so that this page can be updated.
From the locked gate described above, begin hiking Forest Road 2458 up the floor of Queen Creek Canyon. At 1.1 miles in, where the road crosses the 4200-foot contour, a prominent, northwest-trending ridgeline appears on your left. Follow this ridgeline straight up the mountainside, staying on the crest or slightly below the crest to the south. The north side is brushy. You will not see Kings Crown Peak itself until you are near the top of this ridge. There are a couple of areas where you’ll need to pick your way through some steeper, rocky sections, but nothing difficult.
Near the top of the ridge, at the 5200-foot contour, I chose to detour to the next ridge coming in from the south to check out one of the many low walls of stacked rock that appear on the slopes of the peak. The 5200-foot contour leads one easily west to the prominent saddle between Kings Crown Peak and peak 5421 to its north. From this prominent, open saddle, turn south to follow the increasingly rocky ridge leading to the summit of Kings Crown, staying slightly east of and below the ridge crest to avoid the worst of the rocks and sketchy terrain.
After a 300 foot climb from the saddle, the route arrives on the open, rocky summit cone of Kings Crown Peak, where a full 360-degree panorama view of the Superstition and Pinal Mountain ranges await. Beware the west edge of the summit. It’s a sheer cliff falling into the desert basin far below. Return the same way, or a different way if you’re feeling extra adventurous.
Queen Creek sometimes holds seasonal water, but there are cattle in the area (be sure to purify any water before drinking it).
There isn’t any desirable place to camp or backpack along this route. There is too much traffic noise near the trailhead, no worthy spots along Forest Road 2458, and it's too steep and rocky along the off-trail portion.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.