Warning: 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.
Overview: 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.
Camping: 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.
Hike: 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.
Summary: 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.
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.