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Boneyback Peak, AZ

no permit
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Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
4 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,323 feet
Elevation Gain 1,260 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,600 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.93
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
30  2019-04-02 Grasshopper
22  2019-04-02 Oregon_Hiker
50  2014-08-02 CannondaleKid
29  2009-12-31 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   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Early Summer
Sun  6:07am - 6:33pm
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Ancha 360
by ssk44

Boneyback Peak is a rugged cross-country route. No trail exists. Bushwhacking is light to moderate. Sufficient knowledge of topographical map reading and off-trail route finding is required for completing this hike.

Boneyback Peak is a named benchmark summit located within a remote region of the Tonto National Forest and is the prominent landmark of Greenback Valley. This is a great off-trail summit hike with manageable terrain and easy route finding. Along the hike you will find diverse mixed vegetation including pinyon pine, various species of oak, and alligator juniper. The geology is incredible with some of the wildest rock formations in the entire mountain range. From the summit you will be rewarded with epic 360-degree views of Four Peaks, Mount Ord, Mazatzal Peak, Picture Mountain, Bear Head Mountain, Copper Mountain, Greenback Peak, McFadden Horse Mountain, Center Mountain, Armer Mountain, Three Sisters Mountain, and Panther Mountain. How's that for a mouthful! No other summit within the Sierra Ancha Mountains offers this much bang for the buck. The views are truly amazing and must be experienced in person to truly appreciate. Surrounding summits are viewed in order from left to right, starting at Four Peaks directly southwest. The hike stats as posted within this description are "one-way" from the designated trailhead to the top of the 5,558 summit.

All camping throughout the area surrounding Boneyback Peak is designated as "dispersed". Dispersed camping is legal throughout most remote regions of the Tonto National Forest. Always utilize existing sites. !!Do not camp within the private property of Conway Ranch!! All access roads and boundaries are clearly marked.

The designated trailhead is located just off the right side of FR71 at a campsite below the saddle overlooking Greenback Valley ("TH" Lat. 33 degrees/53'/01.13"/N & Long. 111 degrees/08'/52.91"/W). The hike to the summit is fairly straightforward and simply follows a broad defined ridgeline all the way to the top. From the campsite you will be following a jeep-trail to the top of a small hill, overlooking the TH/campsite. The initial segment of this hike is unfortunately the worst part with steep terrain and loose footing. Be VERY careful coming down this part later in the day. From the hilltop, head uphill slightly northwest along a ridge crest towards a fence line ("Mark 1" Lat. 33 degrees/53'/02.02"/N & Long. 111 degrees/09'/09.33"/W). You will now follow this fence line straight up to the top of the mountain overlooking the TH/campsite. Stay on the right side of the fence, dig in, and keep climbing. You will be skirting the left side of a bluff just before reaching the top. The section near the bluff is definitely the sketchiest but is still manageable. This fence line is not the official property boundary for the Conway ranch. Once you reach the top, you're basically home free for the rest of the hike. The remaining segments of the hike are completely self-explanatory with rolling hilltops and saddles. Just west of the 4,929 peak is a wonderful bluff overlook at the edge of a point that MUST be visited on the way up ("Bluff #1" Lat. 33 degrees/53'/01.98"/N & Long. 111 degrees/09'/38.89"/W). The drop-off from the overlook is very severe and the views looking northwest towards Mount Ord and Mazatzal Peak are incredible.

The next 1.3 miles are nice and pleasant with mostly gradual up-and-down hiking. The last segment heading towards the Boneyback Peak summit involves a steep climb to the boulder strewn postage-stamp summit of peak 5,531. The entire northern slope of peak 5,531 is covered with healthy pinyon pine. It is possible to bypass this climb to the east, but what fun would that be? The views from the top are great! You can cheat on the way back. Ha! I did...

Now its time for the best part of the hike and its not the summit. Between peak 5,531 and the actual Boneyback Peak summit is a saddle with a small point heading west ("Bluff #2" Lat. 33 degrees/51'/46.32"/N & Long. 111 degrees/10'/03.98"/W). The surrounding edge of the point is lined with some of the most rugged and amazing rock outcroppings I have ever seen. I was expecting the typical bluff with some cool boulders. What I found was a maze of nasty rock spires and towers. Some of the skinny spires had to be over seventy feet high. The whole place is basically a house of cards just waiting to tumble. I cant believe it's lasted this long. Truly amazing!! The colors of the rocks are very unique for the area. This jagged overlook has to be seen in person to really appreciate. Use extreme caution and discretion while exploring this location! The consequences of a poorly chosen step will likely cost you your life.

Now for the closing finale... Just a short distance southeast, on a small rocky outcropping is the summit benchmark. Although the mountain is named Boneyback, the official benchmark name is "Ancha". The reference markers are not far away and very visible with just a little bit of searching. The 360 degree views from the summit are amazing and WELL worth the effort. See maps for locations of waypoints described in text and for further clarification.

Boneyback Peak is a must-do hike if you're a fan of the area. Even those that are not familiar with the area will appreciate this hike and likely walk away hungering for more of what the Sierra Ancha Mountains have to offer. This hike is a great introduction to the Sierra Ancha Mountains with killer views that cannot be properly captured in photos. The jagged rock bluffs on the western edge of the summit are wildly rugged. There are so many points of interest that can be admired from the Boneyback Peak summit including the extremely remote Horse Range Mesa to the west and Greenback Creek to the south. Bring your binoculars! Don't forget to sign the summit registry located in the rocks surrounding the benchmark. If you're looking for backcountry solitude with a view, this off-trail hike will not disappoint. Count on having it all to yourself if you go.

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2010-01-01 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
Boneyback Peak
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With two hikes mapped out I set off for the western Sierra Ancha area, I would do one or both hikes depending on the weather. As I headed east on FR71 from Punkin Center the skies gave me the feeling I'd have time for only one hike. The shorter hike would have entailed a longer drive (time, not distance) somewhat closer to the incoming weather so I went for a shorter drive and the more challenging hike, Boneyback Peak.

Rather than begin at the hike description trailhead from the east I approached from the north. I anticipated to pass through some thick brush to approach the first wash but was pleasantly surprised that last night a gully-washer created a nice wide path for me, devoid of any brush. While that was nice, the humidity from the overnight rains had not dissipated one bit so I already knew I was in for a sweat-drenched hike. In my attempt to put the worst of it off for a while, I took my sweet time.
Yeah right, like that would help?

Once I crossed the washed-out creek it wasn't long before I found a well-beaten game trail, and would continue on one a myriad of linked game trails all the way out, spending probably 95% of the time on a game trail. No bushwhacking through thick brush for me! (that would change on the return trip)

By time I reached a saddle just east of Peak 5531 I was fully soaked in sweat so I decided to skip it and head directly for Boneyback, only climbing 5531 on the return trip... if I felt like climbing more on the return trip.

From the upper saddle to Boneyback summit was easy enough so that went quickly. Being thoroughly drenched before reaching the summit I quickly took the usual panorama photos before taking time to pretty much strip off, wring out and hang every to dry... if only there was more than a wisp of wind and the humidity had dropped more. I waited over 30 minutes before putting everything back on and I ended up with some items dry and stiff while others were damp and icky-feeling.

Oh yeah, after suiting-up again NOW the sun peeks out... so I figured I'd get a second group of panorama shots and see which turn out better.
(The second pan set is on the HAZ photoset and all 77 photos are on my website as usual.)

Ok, I hear the thunder louder now so it's time to get moving. While it looked steeper up to Peak 5531 than I wanted to tackle on the way out, on the return across the upper saddle it didn't look bad at all. By time I got halfway up I realized why it looked steep before, because it WAS steeper! Ok, I'm up to the summit of Peak 5531 so I might as well shoot another panorama set. then I made another bad decision... descend down the even steeper slope directly east, instead of retracing my route back to the upper saddle and follow the deer trail back down.

Once back down to the lower saddle it seems I just wasn't going to learn... with the thunderstorms getting closer I thought I'd take a more direct route instead of following the route I took on the way up. While it was 'more direct' as in a straighter line, it was by far the tougher route, and I'm sure took longer than if I'd simply back-tracked and followed the game trails down. Instead I had the joy of crossing several deep drainages and passing through many thick fields of prickly-pear cactus. Luckily I only managed to brush against one, picking up several dozen of the fine spines that went through my pants like nothing was there. Thankfully after pulling up the pant-leg I saw they were in a tight bunch so it didn't take much to get them all out.

Back to the car I saw the sky getting even more ominous so there was no way I'd be trying to pick up the short hike as well. A couple minutes drive back on FR71 and I came upon a mule deer standing in the road just staring at me. I had my camera right next to me, but the windshield was so dirty I knew I'd have to turn to the right and shoot out the side window and I rolled to the side, just in time to see the deer jump up the road-side bank. Oh well, but after I drove around the corner there's the deer with its back to me turning it head to the side... so it looked more like a kangaroo. With the sky so dark behind me and overcast behind the deer I knew it would pretty much be a silhouette but took a few shots anyway. That was the only wildlife I saw, although I did scare up something big, probably another deer just before returning to the trailhead.

Heading back out FR71 I could see a downpour on the other side of AZ 188 just north of Mount Ord, but it had dissipated by time I get back to Punkin Center so I had a dry drive all the way until I was southbound on AZ 87 passing by Slate Creek, when it gave my Jeep a well-needed wash since it rarely gets one.

3-minute Boneyback Peak summit panorama is here:
[ youtube video ]
Boneyback Peak
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Boneyback Peak (12/31/2009)

I had a fun time on this hike. My hike description likely reflects that. Boneyback Peak far exceeded my expectations. Hiking Boneyback Peak truly summarizes all of my prior years of exploration within the Sierra Ancha Mountains. It was so cool to literally see everything from one summit. The upper rock outcroppings are insane! The pinyon pine was a welcome and unexpected surprise. One hillside along the hike was covered with live oak. I love oak trees. I highly recommend this hike. You wont regret it.

An added bonus to this trip was a specific name on the summit registry. A couple months back, I posted a new forum topic titled "USGS Survey Markers". Thanks to a very informative post by mikehikes, we all learned the interesting story of Bob Martin. A little further research on my end revealed that Bob had hiked all of the benchmark summits I have visited this season, including one particularly remote mountain that I am planning on doing within the next month. Thanks again mikehikes, for sharing the story of your friend and for the helpful information you provided.


Eric (ssk44) 8)

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From Mesa take Highway 87 towards Payson. Turn on Highway 188 and drive to Punkin Center. In Punkin Center you will be turning directly after the "Punkin Center Bar & Grill", which has a large orange pumpkin on one side of the roof that's visible from Highway 188. From there take FR71 approximately 12 miles to the designated trailhead, which is located just off the right side of FR71 at a campsite below the saddle overlooking Greenback Valley. !!Do not enter the private property of Conway ranch, which lies within Greenback Valley!!

(Special Note) The Conway family is mostly friendly and have zero issues with people traveling around the boundaries of there ranch as long no one enters the well marked property gates and do not damage any personal property. Heeding this warning will ensure many years of privileged access to a large remote area.

(Special Note) From Punkin Center, FR71 crosses Tonto Creek before heading to the trailhead. The crossing at Tonto Creek is gravel only and can be dangerous to cross for long periods of time following heavy storms and periodically throughout the spring during heavy snow runoff. It is advisable to check the CFS stream flow the day prior to your trip to unsure that you won't be driving all the way over there for nothing. Typically, any number higher than 200 CFS is not advisable without four-wheel drive. When in doubt, wait ten to fifteen minutes for one of the locals to cross so you can see how difficult it looks. See USGS Website for "Real-Time Water Data". Select "Tonto Creek Above Gun Creek, Near Roosevelt, AZ" from the "Statewide Stream Flow Table" for current CFS.
page created by ssk44 on Jan 01 2010 5:59 pm
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