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Apache Peaks - Tonto NF, AZ

no permit
62 9 1
Guide 9 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe NE
5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 2.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,929 feet
Elevation Gain 2,010 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,165 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.01
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2017-09-17
Apache Peaks & Richmond Basin
11  2017-09-17
Apache Peaks & Richmond Basin
42  2016-03-13
Apache Mid-Peak
6  2013-03-12 sbkelley
35  2012-06-04
Apache Peaks - Northern Loop
40  2012-05-29 CannondaleKid
16  2009-10-11 ssk44
Author ssk44
author avatar Guides 19
Routes 12
Photos 2,250
Trips 274 map ( 830 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:21pm
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
by ssk44

Likely In-Season!
Apache Peaks is a rugged cross-country route. No trail exists. Bushwhacking is moderate to heavy. Sufficient knowledge of topographical map reading and off-trail route finding is required for completing this hike.

Apache Peaks is located just northeast of Globe within the Tonto National Forest. This mountain is best described as a range made up of four peaks and two prominent summits. The main summit tops out at an elevation of 6,940 and offers far reaching 360-degree views of the surrounding area. Apache Peaks has a lot of character with rugged bluffs, spine ridgelines, and defined summits offering willing hikers many exploration opportunities. Steep and jagged cliffs protect much of the entire western edge of the mountain. Apache Peaks is truly a wild and untamed mountain. Vegetation primarily consists of pinyon pine, oak, manzanita, juniper, various cacti and isolated areas of ponderosa pine. The hike stats as posted within this description are "one-way" from the designated trailhead to the top of the main summit

Approximately 4 miles northeast of the turnoff to the trailhead along US60 is the Jones Water campground. Jones Water is a unique developed campground with 12 small private tent sites along a mature and lush riparian area at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Jones Water is a "non-fee" primitive campground and offers only basic amenities. Use is typically light.

Before I get started there is one very important thing that must be mentioned. DO NOT attempt this hike without durable pants. Don't say that I didn't warn you. This is a bushwhack hike from the trailhead to the summit. Most of the route is what I would describe as moderate, however some areas are heavy. Utilize existing game trails as much as possible to ease progress. Animals always know the best way through a difficult area. Don't fight the terrain. Slow down and use it too your advantage.

The trailhead as posted is at a distinct and obvious parking area along FR584 ("TH" Lat. 33 degrees/32'/50.07"/N & Long. 110 degrees/42'/46.26"/W). From the trailhead I recommend walking about 100 yards to the south along the road before heading up. Much of the route to the summit (see maps) follows an obvious ridgeline with some rolling up and down sections. Unfortunately, one of the nastiest bushwhack sections seemed to be at the beginning. Not exactly the way you want to start things out but that's the way it is. Once you get past the first 200 yards things start to get better. Don't hike straight up to the first rise, but rather stay off the edge to the south, due to vegetation being open and easy to travel through ("Mark 1" Lat. 33 degrees/32'/52.94"/N & Long. 110 degrees/43'/08.15"/W). The next three quarter mile is self-explanatory. Work your way up the ridge while mostly following the crest. There is one high point along the ridge ("Mark 2" Lat. 33 degrees/32'/56.64"/N & Long. 110 degrees/43'/33.34"/W) where you will need to walk a short stretch south while looking very closely for a specific steep and narrow drop where the deer have been traveling through. I initially missed this spot and ended up having to backtrack to look for it. Not far southwest from the 5,641 summit (see map) you will encounter the worst bushwhack segment of this hike. It's a fairly steep slope heading up to a bench ("Mark 3" Lat. 33 degrees/32'/48.34"/N & Long. 110 degrees/43'/57.29"/W). There is no easy way through this part. The manzanita and oak are relentless. It is doable, but you are not going to like it. While you're cussing me all the way through this part, just keep telling yourself how great the payoff is going to be at summit. All of your efforts will be justified.

Are we there yet?? It's kind of funny that you can literally see the summit along the entire route, however it seems like you are never going to get there. The good news is that the worst is behind you. Now that you have survived the "mother of all bushwhacks", head across the upper bench (see map) where you will finally reach a nice area of tall ponderosa pine ("Mark 4" Lat. 33 degrees/32'/45.05"/N & Long. 110 degrees/44'/09.80"/W). Pinyon pine and oak are what is primarily along the hike. This stand of ponderosa offered some well-deserved pleasant and open hiking. Along this segment were heavily used game trails working there way up towards the top. Keep your eyes open for the main trail. My route as noted on the map followed this trail.

You're almost there! From a noticeable ridge ("Mark 5" Lat. 33 degrees/32'/41.70"/N & Long. 110 degrees/44'/27.64"/W) that follows drainage towards the summit you will finally be heading up the last segment of this hike. The slope is steep yet manageable with mostly oak trees all the way to the top. Just below the top, there is a rock bluff with a perfect crevice to climb up through to reach a sheer overlook on the northern edge of the summit ("Mark 6" Lat. 33 degrees/32'/33.29"/N & Long. 110 degrees/44'/34.82"/W). The view from the tall bluffs took my breath away. In all directions you can literally see forever. My efforts finally paid off. What a location to have lunch. An isolated rugged mountain top that only limited people have ever visited. Very cool! A short walk to the south will take you out onto the 6,940 high point (see map) with killer views of a remote upper basin and a spine ridgeline heading out onto the far summit of the Apache Peaks range. Absolutely amazing. Not something that I will soon forget. See maps for locations of waypoints described in text.

Climbing Apache Peaks seems more like a journey than a hike. The true feeling of accomplishment and solitude is unmistakable. Like many towering sky islands around the state, the views must be experienced in person to truly appreciate. The view from the summit of Apache Peaks is one of the best in the Tonto National Forest. If you're up for a true Arizona off-trail adventure, this hike will not let you down. Count on having it all to your self if you go.

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2009-10-11 ssk44
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 Triplog Reviews
Apache Peaks - Tonto NF
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Apache Peaks - Northern Loop
After my Apache Peak 6940 climb last week I couldn't wait to return to make a 'Northern Loop' trip to visit the summits of the northern-most eight out of the tallest dozen peaks in the Apache Peaks complex. To try and make it all in one trip I relied on topo maps, satellite views as well as the information I gained on my climb of 6940. Yes, it was quite an ambitious plan even knowing how large a gap there can be between creating and carrying it out, but it was worth a try.

The Plan:
Start from Forest Road 220 near Apache Tank and hit the peaks in the order as follows:
Peak 5819, 6188, 6326, 6353, 6729, 6412, passing back over 6729 on the way to 6651 and finally to 6601. From there I would continue south toward 6940 until I found an opening to climb down the steep western wall, eventually back down to last weeks' trailhead then hike the road back up and around Peak 5819 to my start point.

The Result:
I hit 5819, 6188, 6326, 6353 & 6651, hardly varying a hundred feet from my planned GPS route until climbing the northern rise of Peak 6651 prior to heading east to pick up 6729 & 6412. Once I caught sight of 6729 & 6412 it was obvious I would have neither the energy nor enough fluids for the steep ascents and descents out-and-back so I settled on finishing with just 6651 & 6601. But as it turned out while I did not continue to 6601 I did reach five of the eight summits I hoped for. Not a bad day's work.

The Details:
0740 - Started from my designated TH @ N33.54718 W110.76909
I had a nice spot parked between two trees tall enough to provide shade for most of the day. The climb to begin with was reasonably steep but the terrain was open enough it was easy to pick out the best route.

0805 - Reached Peak 5819 summit @ N33.55029 W110.76498
Once at the summit I realized my planned GPS route was working out well with the only obstacle that may cause a variation was pretty sturdy barbed-wire fence. Hopefully I'd be able to cross it at the opportune times without too much grief.

0906 - Reached Peak 6188 summit @ N33.55560 W110.75647 (My GPS read 6224')
Although early in the hike, this peak was the toughest of the day for me, being very steep with exposure near the top, very loose scree to climb and of course for me, not being comfortable with heights, sheer cliff faces and drop-offs. Truthfully I almost gave up, and even once I was within a few yards of the top I told myself "enough for today, I'll summit it and call it a day, heading back and spending the rest of the day doing more 4x4 recon of the area. But once I reached the summit and saw the terrain wasn't as bad (close, but not as bad) to continue on, I figured I'm here, let's get it done!

0949 - Reached Peak 6326 summit @ N33.55936 W110.75234
This peak was a pretty easy climb, although I started to get into the thicker brush that would become the theme for most of the hike. Still, there were enough well-beaten game trails I could avoid the worst of it.

1004 - Reached Peak 6353 summit @ N33.56378 W110.75130
The terrain being pretty open yet with plenty of shade trees the hike along the 'peninsula' to Peak 6353 was the easiest and most enjoyable part of the day. With tons of game trails and fresh animal tracks I was a bit surprised I only had one fleeting glimpse of a white-tail deer the whole day, so short even if the camera was on and in my hand would not have caught it.

1108 - Reached Peak 6651 summit @ N33.55649 W110.74764
This was very close to the toughest climb of the day. Every bit as steep if not steeper than the climb to 6188 but not nearly the exposure. But it took enough energy I knew by time it started to level out that my out-and-back from here to pick up 6729 & 6412 was not feasible today so I headed straight for the summit.

1142 - Make-or-break time @ N33.55536 W110.74539
Already it's taken 4 hours, I'm lagging on energy, have only a few ounces of Gatorade in the CamelBak bladder with a 20 oz back-up bottle and I have another 3 tough miles to go, so... do I continue as planned on to pick up Peak 6601 and seek an unknown opening to drop down or choose the known opening now, heading down the ravine into Negro Wash? Hmmm... which is it?

I figured reaching five out of eight planned summits isn't bad so I chose the latter (and very wrong!) option. Yup, as usual hindsight is 20/20. While this was a known option, the brush became so thick, even moving as fast as I could downhill, it took well over and hour to go less than half a mile. Worse, it was sapping me of the energy I'd need to make my last 400' ascent back up to my TH. The only 'good' thing during this descent was almost no cats-claw so the upper body scrapes were just that, scrapes. However, I did get plenty of those. For the legs it was a good thing I had two layers of gaiters (light short ones and tall heavier ones over that) for I still came back with a deep cut behind each leg. I have no idea when or where I got them as I didn't notice them until after I returned home.

The last unpleasantness of the hike was sitting down on a nice shaded rock to take off the outer pair of gaiters (only half-mile walk along the road left) only to find out the rock was covered in pine sap. Thankfully the last thing before leaving home I grabbed an extra pair of pants and was able to change into them before driving home, otherwise it would have embedded the sap into the car seat. As it is, three scrubbings with Shout! and washing did not remove the last of it so I'm looking for the next thing to try.

1352 - Returned to start and enjoyed some nice cold Gatorade to reayd me for more 4x4 recon.

With such great views, three more of Apache Peaks to reach on the northern end and another four to the south, I'll be back for more.

I'm still whittling down to a few dozen to post on HAZ but the full set of 81 photos (including both FR220 & FR220A 4x4 trips) is here:
Apache Peaks - Tonto NF
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Even though I was going to climb Peak 6940 using a western approach from FR 220, after reading the description for this hike I made sure to be prepared for the worst. I'm sure Eric's description is completely accurate for his eastern approach, but I found I was vastly over-prepared for it. Although very steep everywhere but one flat field about halfway up, there was no intensive bush-whacking. I'm sure part of it is the huge number of game trails, but I do believe a reasonable amount of traffic is from hikers because there were well-beaten tracks leading toward the summit.

I didn't get quite the early start as when we climbed Rockinstraw on Saturday but starting out with a 56 degree temp it turned out to be perfect for such a strenuous climb. From my trail-head just off Forest Road 220 I initially followed the remnants of an ancient road leading up Negro Wash eastward until it turned to the north. From there, even though all I saw above was a wall of steep cliffs, I headed straight for the most prominent peak. Once there I figured I'd follow along the base one way or the other until I found a way up. Luckily I found a path leading to a very narrow chute that brought me right up to the false-summit! :o or more accurately, the first false-summit, because I would encounter another along the way. Thankfully the second was a bit easier, and once above it I encountered a wide flat grassy field which provided a nice respite to climbing 1 foot vertically for every 5 steps forward. And from that field the summit ridgeline finally reared its head. It just HAD to be the destination. Although it was, the true summit was on the far end of the ridge.

Once at the summit I searched for the benchmark that was supposedly there as well as any kind of summit log but found neither. After wandering around the summit taking photos I had a short picnic and got moving again because a second climb of Rockinstraw Mountain (this time from the west) was my plan for the afternoon.

For those who may have shied away from this hike due to the dire warnings in the description approaching from the east, I'd heartily recommend it from the west. Due to some recent maintenance on both FR219 and FR220, while I'm sure conditions could change significantly after a rain, on this day even a normal car could make it all the way to my starting point.

I posted 40 photos on HAZ with the full set of 69 photos here:
Apache Peaks - Tonto NF
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Apache Peaks (10/10/2009)

This hike ended up being another Man vs. Wild trip. I questioned my plans more than once along the way. Not knowing what would be at the top made me wonder if it was really going to be worth the effort. That is always the risk an explorer takes. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I truly love hiking into the unknown were few have been. The mystery of what I will find keeps pushing me forward. Hiking Apache Peaks is something I have wanted to do for many years. It was time to stop thinking about it and actually do it. I am so glad that I finally completed this hike. Call it "personal accomplishment". Although the hike was somewhat of a battle, I don't regret it one bit. The views were amazing. The way that the summit sits elevated above the mountain range offers amazing perspective and depth. I would have liked for the air quality to be better on the day of my trip. The haze unfortunately limited long distance visibility. Oh well... I can't have everything. The temps were absolutely perfect for a challenging hike, the sun shined during my time at the summit for photography, and I had shade from late day cloud cover all the way back to the truck. It does not get much better than that. God showed me favor that day. It was a blessed day of hiking.

Eric (ssk44) 8)

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Mesa, take US to Globe. On the far end of town at the intersection of US60 and US70, turn north and continue along US60 for approximately 14 miles to FR584 (Lat. 33 degrees/33'/03.02"/N & Long. 110 degrees/41'/07.89"/W). Drive approximately 1.80 miles to the trailhead parking area (Lat. 33 degrees/32'/50.07"/N & Long. 110 degrees/42'/46.26"/W). Just before the trailhead parking area you will first pass the Winters Ranch on your left and than travel through a gate crossing FR584 shortly after the ranch. Please, always close the gate behind you. You will not be driving through private land to reach the trailhead.

Alternative 4x4 Western Approach: 4x4 for sand and other periodic storm related wash-out issues on this approach. Take the US60 to the SR188 in Claypool. Turn left onto SR188 and head north 4-1/2 miles and turn off at Wheatfields Road. Continue 1.7 miles on Wheatfields Road until Hicks Road. Turn right on Hicks Road and follow as it winds northward about 2.3 miles to Forest Road 219. Sign the 'Private Land Access Sign-In Book' and pass through the gate, closing it behind you. Follow FR219 about 1.9 miles where you turn onto FR220. (The FR220 marker is not very noticeable from FR219) Follow FR220 5.8 miles to FR220A. Turn left onto FR220A and park in the open area.
page created by ssk44 on Oct 11 2009 7:58 pm
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