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Greenback Peak, AZ

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Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
5 of 5 by 4
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,890 feet
Elevation Gain 700 feet
Accumulated Gain 850 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.75
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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16  2015-05-09 bikeandhike
50  2014-10-04
Greenback Peak Circumference
25  2011-06-21 CannondaleKid
20  2009-11-23 PrestonSands
3  2008-12-21 ssk44
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, May, Mar → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:20pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Well worth a fistful of greenbacks
by PrestonSands

Greenback Peak, in Arizona's rugged Sierra Ancha, is an ideal destination for those who seek adventure and solitude. Those who reach its 6535 foot summit are greeted with a 360 degree view of the Sierra Ancha. The journey to Greenback Peak involves a four wheel drive road, an atv (all terrain/off road vehicle) trail, and an off trail bushwhack. There is not a formal "trailhead" for this hike, so your starting point will depend on your preferences and your vehicle (and how much abuse you are willing to put your vehicle through).

This guide begins where Forest Road 2731/2733 (the previously mentioned atv trail) departs from Forest Road 236 (four wheel drive). Those without four wheel drive will have to hike the four wheel drive portion of Forest Road 236, making for a longer hike than is listed in the statistics. Please see the "directions to trail" section for detailed road information.

A topographical map and a Tonto National Forest map are both very helpful on this hike, as none of the roads beyond Greenback Valley were signed as of this writing.

Four and a half miles up Forest Road 236 from Forest Road 71/Greenback Valley Road, lies the unsigned junction of Forest Road 236 and Forest Road 2731/2733 (gps coordinates 33.89692 N, 111.09648 W). Begin hiking southeast up Forest Road 2731/2733 (an atv trail, in actuality), as it charges through the chaparral brush. The atv trail skirts a brushy hillside, and reaches a broad mesa covered in dense pinion pines and alligator junipers at the half mile point. Greenback Peak's rocky head comes into view, and the atv trail rambles across the mesa towards it, in a southeasterly direction.

One mile in, the atv trail breaks into a grassy clearing, and crosses through a gate in a barbed wire fence. A few hundred feet beyond the gate, the atv trail divides (33.88824 N, 111.08602 W). Go left, onto FR 2731 (another unsigned atv trail). This route avoids the cliffs along Greenback Peak's southern and western edges.

The hike along FR 2731 travels east into pine forest, rounding Greenback Peak's north ridge. Once around, the atv trail turns southeast again, along the north slope of Greenback Peak itself. You'll want to leave the atv trail somewhere in this vicinity and climb the north slope of the peak. Climbing about 500 feet through a mix of ponderosa pine and manzanita, the off trail jaunt to the summit is relatively easy, albeit time consuming.

Arriving atop Greenback Peak, the forest gives way to brush, cliffs, tilted beds of colorful Troy Quartzite, and something else that is unmistakable and very special. An enormous boulder crowned with a cairn marks the summit, and provides an outstanding 360 degree view. Flat bedrock along the cliff edge makes a great spot to sit and enjoy the sweeping view that stretches from the Pinal Mountains to the Mogollon Rim. Walk along the cliff to the south edge of Greenback for a peek into Salome Canyon.

For a longer return hike, there is the option to continue south on FR 2731, and cut across the south slope of Greenback Peak to connect with FR 2733.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2009-12-14 PrestonSands
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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
Greenback Peak
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Greenback Peak Circumference
Another two-day weekend for Tracey so it's off to cooler climes as well as solitude... we hoped...
Where to go? somewhere in the Sierra Ancha for sure, but where? Hmmm, It's been over 3 years now, about Greenback Peak again? Tracey asked, to which I replied, do you remember all the Manzanita we crashed through? Ok, so we won't be climbing Greenback, let's try following Forest Road 2731 as far as it will go to the southeast of Greenback and see what captures our interest.

So that's what we started out to do. The first 1/3 of the hike was completely uneventful, just following the forest road. Upon reaching the very end we were greeted by an awesome view in almost every direction. Gazing down into Salome Creek, across to Boyer Ridge, Chubb Mountain, Three Sisters Mountain, Red Blanket Peak, Boneyback Peak and of course the other side of Greenback Peak.
Oh man! This is the life!

Ok, so now what, traipse back along the same seldom-used forest road? Ha! No way! That's much too easy, how about we traverse the southern (and yes, steepest) slope of Greenback until we connect with Forest Road 2733 on the west side of Greenback? Of course, not ever having been on FR 2733, who knows exactly where it is so we'll take it on faith.
While she didn't say it out loud, I could hear Tracey saying Ha! Famous last words!
At that point all I knew was on the other side of Greenback FR 2733 went somewhere along the western side of Greenback, but that was enough to make it worth a try. The first and last part of the southern traverse went pretty well by following reasonably well-traveled game trails.

But the center part of the traverse was a different thing. We were greeted by cat's-claw and the proverbial thickets of Manzanita.
While the game trails were still there, they weren't much for trails and we weren't able to squeeze through all the places that deer may have passed through. Without a pack and crawling on all on all fours, maybe... so it just took a bit longer for the dead-ends we had to back-track and detour.

Once out of the thick brush we were greeted by fields and fields of yellow flowers.... and billions of bees. Ok, maybe millions, but there were a lot! As long as they were busy bees minding their own business and we did the same, they let us pass peacefully through.

Yes! We found Forest Road 2733! :y:

Although a bit rocky, it was nice to have the clear path of a road again, along with some awesome views to the west along the way. We reconnected back with FR 2731 and followed it back to the Jeep, which we had parked at the FR 236/FR 2731 junction. Even though there was a few sections of 3-4' deep ruts on one incline, the Cherokee could have handled it with ease and could have gone all the way to the end. But if we did that we wouldn't be hiking now, would we?

Plenty of time left for another hike but we figured it was time to find a campsite first. While I really expect to find solitude at Dupont Cabin with all he hunters about, it was worth a try. Nope!
Oh well, if we continue north a half-mile on FR 236 and took a left on old FR 639, a seldom-used dead-end road, we should have no problem being alone. Which is exactly what we did and we were totally alone!

A quick setup of camp with our little back-packing tent, a short siesta and we were off on our hike to Buck Peak... but that's a story for another trip-log.

No video this trip. :sorrry:
I made up for that with TONS of Greenback Peak photos! Be forewarned, 40% of the photoset is all Greenback. But they will provide viewpoints most folks don't get to see, so take a look.
Greenback Peak
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Hoping for somewhat cooler temps than the valley we set out for a few days in the Tonto Basin side of the Sierra Ancha. We found Preston to be right on with his description of the 'roads' and how they deteriorate down to the point barely ATV passable. But with the Samurai being almost as nimble as a mountain goat, my Sammy soldiered along up the mountain through the some of the toughest terrain I've encountered. More than a few times Tracey thought it was time to leave the vehicle and set out on foot, but as long as we could keep moving we continued on. When we came to an area just over 2 miles from the peak that would take significant time to carefully traverse, we found a place to turn around and began our hike from there.

We found once we got past that rough patch the road was almost a breeze for another mile and more than once we thought we should have driven farther, but then we thought how nice it was to be on foot after a 3 hour drive. We were following Preston's track along the road paying more attention to the surroundings than to the GPS and found we'd gone past where Preston had headed for the peak. So we took a hard right and proceeded to bushwhack our way up to the summit. Some spots in the pines were quite open, others were thick with Manzanita so our skills at finding the best way through were put to the test. Along the way we encountered a great deal of bear scat, and by the looks of some, there is one huge bear up here. :scared:

Eventually we broke free within 50' of a balanced rock we'd seen poking up above the trees 30 minutes earlier. We climbed up the large boulders on the north approach, took photos and videos of the surrounding area, then continued on to the summit itself.

Marking the summit was a large rock cairn but with no summit log found we saw no point in leaving one. Visible just past the cairn is an old Salado ruins in a pretty poor state. By the somewhat haphazard way the rocks are stacked, I doubt it was a long-term settlement as much as a fortified lookout. There was only one spot that appeared to be laid out as a separate room. While the ruins weren't in good shape, the views in every direction were awesome.

After spending plenty of time wandering around the summit and grabbing a quick bite we set off back to the car for the second hike planned for the day just a few miles away at Malicious Gap where we would camp overnight. (Bears beware, we're loud sleepers)

An arbitrary 'top 20' photos are posted on HAZ with the set of 100+ available here:

I'll be posting video links once they are edited and posted on YouTube.
Greenback Peak
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After throwing a bunch of camping gear in my truck at home, I set off down the highway, knowing I might not have enough time to hike Greenback Peak like I had been hoping. Greenback had been on my wish list for several years, and I was really looking forward to hiking it. I put my truck to the test driving up Forest Road 236, and began my hike at 3:50 pm. I moved fast, and was on the south end of Greenback Peak in just under an hour.

While trying to free myself from a thick patch of manzanita near the south cliff edge, I noticed a few stacked rocks peeking out of the tangled mess. A ruin? A quick scan around my feet revealed a few pottery sherds, and collapsed wall lines. Indeed. Cool, a little ruin. A short time later I found more connecting walls. Correction: a good sized ruin.

Pushing on through the manzanita, I stumbled, fell, and fought my way farther to the summit. Upon reaching the top, I broke free from the brush, and discovered another wall. A quick survey revealed a very large ruin, with multiple rooms, and a massive outer wall. Wow! I glad I came up here! :y:

With the sun setting, my time on the summit was limited, so I went to work photographing the area. I climbed atop the summit boulder, and placed a summit register among the rocks. Fittingly, the notebook was green, and so was the jar lid.

With the evening breeze growing chilly, I pulled out my fleece, and out popped my video camera, bouncing off the boulder, and sliding toward a deep crevice. I caught it, and thankfully, it still worked. I shot some video, then began my return bushwhack at dusk.

I finished my hike by moonlight, dropped the tailgate on my truck, and contemplated where to camp out for the night. As cold and breezy as it was, I chose to head back toward Tonto Basin. Now came the fun part: driving back down FR 236's nasty switchbacks in the dark. A short ways down the steep, bumpy road, my brakes locked up or something, and I nearly lost control. :scared: What that was all about, I didn't know, but I dropped the truck into 4wd low and 1st gear, and crawled down the nasty stretch at 4 mph, without having to touch the brakes. I didn't have any more problems after that.

Eventually I settled on a nice side road a few miles above Tonto Basin, where I set up my tent in the bed of my truck (not wanting to take a chance with my Thermarest and cactus spines). I cooked up a package of delicious creamy chicken Ramen, and sat in the wind free confines of my truck, where I watched an episode of the Dukes Of Hazzard on dvd. The next morning I was up at dawn, and it was off to meet John at the Butcher Hook for our backroad adventure on the Malicious Gap Road (Forest Road 609).

Greenback Peak was a fun and very memorable trip, and one that I highly recommend!
Greenback Peak
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Preston and I truly love the Sierra Ancha Mountains. If you have a similar interest for the area, this destination needs to be on your list. This is a great location. I have yet to personally hike the summit of Greenback Peak, however I have done extensive exploration of the area surrounding the base. The points heading towards Salome Creek are beautifully rugged and remote with classic Sierra Ancha red rock bluffs and cliffs. You could spend days exploring this location. It's that good... I look forward to visiting the ruin site on a return visit. Someday...

Eric (ssk44) 8)

Permit $$

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

To hike
From Payson, head south about 15 miles to the AZ highway 188 junction, and turn left. Follow highway 188 for about 13.3 miles, then turn left (this is the Punkin Center Business District road; there is a green ADOT sign marking this junction). Follow the Punkin Center Business District road south for about 0.3 miles, then turn left onto Greenback Valley Road (just past the Punkin Center Bar). Follow Greenback Valley Road (forest road 71) for 13 miles to the junction with forest road 236 on the left (just before the entrance to the Conway Ranch). Turn left onto forest road 236 and reset your odometer.

Mileage guide after turning onto Forest Road 236: At mile 1.5, Forest Road 236A splits to the left, stay right on FR 236. At this point, FR 236 degrades into a high clearance 2 wheel drive road (when dry). At mile 3.2, there is a small parking/turnaround spot on a curve, atop a little ridge just above the 4800 foot contour. This is the end of the line for 2 wheel drive vehicles. Beyond this point, FR 236 is 4 wheel drive, steep, and rocky, with extremely limited turn around spots or places to pass another vehicle. Good tires are a must, and a short wheel base vehicle is preferred. At mile 3.9, FR 236 makes 2 very tight switchbacks on loose rock, which require multi-point turns on a mountainside, if you are not driving a jeep or other short wheel base vehicle. At mile 4.5, FR 236 levels out, and an unmarked but obvious atv trail departs from the right (south) side of the road; this is Forest Road 2731/2733. There is limited parking available at this turnoff (gps coordinates 33.89692 N, 111.09648 W). One can turn a vehicle around here. Begin hiking southeast on the atv trail (Forest Road 2731/2733). The hike begins at this point. (see hike description)

Preston's disclaimer: If Tonto Creek is in flood stage, you will not have access to the road up to the trailhead. For crossing info after periods of wet weather, call the Gila County Sherriff's Office at (928)474-2208.
page created by PrestonSands on Dec 14 2009 12:00 am
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