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Top Hat Loop, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.6 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 2.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,147 feet
Elevation Gain 388 feet
Accumulated Gain 560 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.1
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
21  2018-11-18
Top Hat and the Arches
15  2017-01-08
Arches & Top Hat via Hackamore
62  2017-01-08
Arches & Top Hat via Hackamore
18  2016-01-31
Top Hat and the Arches
7  2014-12-24
SE Goldfield Loop
25  2014-02-06 TheNaviG8R
16  2013-02-21
Top Hat Loop from Dome Mountain TH
14  2010-11-29
Orohai Wash
Page 1,  2
Author AZLOT69
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 247
Photos 7,293
Trips 1,818 map ( 15,596 miles )
Age 68 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:31pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Join The The Mad Hatter Club
by AZLOT69

Overview: If you approach this hike as described the surprise comes later in the hike. From the west the mountain looks like it is wearing a top hat. The hat as it turns out is a facade. The hat is a dark volcanic ridgeline on top of the golden hill. Circling around counterclockwise half way thru the hike offers some of the best views of this golden, lichen covered hill wearing the dark top hat.

Warning: This is a route as opposed to a trail. It is an off trail bushwhack for seventy-five percent of the hike. In order to avoid Sonoran reptiles hike in cooler weather. Sturdy footwear is a plus.

Hike: One quarter mile north of the Rock House Trail on the Packsaddle Trail is an old jeep road on the left. This is your trailhead. The old jeep road is a dead end and it proceeds west up the face of a hill. Shortly before it ends there is a wide spot in the road with a fireplace pit. Leave the jeep road and go right or north here. The idea is to follow the contour of this hill around to the northwest taking the path of least resistance. Try not to gain any elevation as you will have to give it back. Continuing around will bring you to a wash that runs between the two hills on your right and left. Start up the left side bank of the wash which is pretty deep at this point. Where the wash levels off cross over right. The rest of the way up to the saddle will be spent either in the wash or right side of the wash. The saddle is home to some old Saguaros and distant views. After enjoying the views start up your next objective which is on your left. The hill seems terraced and is quite easy to serpentine. Working around the left side head south towards the lower of the two peaks. There is a lone Saguaro on the lower peak. There is a narrow ridgeline here with some interesting quartz inlayed. Your objective lies to the southwest. You will have to work down from the lower peak and follow the contour over to the saddle between the two peaks avoiding the rock outcroppings. The saddle has some interesting barrel cactus. Now make your ascent to Hat Top. The peak offers views in all directions. Now look back at the smaller peak with the lone Saguaro. Follow the golden ridgeline to the left of the Saguaro with your eyes. It runs for a couple hundred feet and then ends. That is where you want to go. Work your way down the peak towards the right following the contour towards the wash in front of that ridgeline. After crossing that wash go up to the base of the ridgeline and follow it left down the slick rock to its end. At its end turn right. There are a couple Palo Verdes ahead. Work your way up towards and around them. There is a natural arch behind them in the volcanic rock. You can walk up to this arch from either side. Its like looking out a picture window with nice views both ways. This is an interesting area geologically to explore. Return the way you came down to the base of the ridgeline turn right and continue down the incline in a general westerly direction. Cross the wash when appropriate now taking a more southwest direction. You are heading for a slick rock wash at the bottom. Once at this wash go left. Soon the wash becomes an old jeep road. Take the road as it offers some great views of the illusion the facade provides for the peak you just bagged. The jeep road comes out to the Rock House Trail. Go left and take the trail to the saddle ahead. There is a large boulder at the saddle. Continue over the saddle to the next large boulder on your left. Look left and up at the rock outcropping. Another natural arch. Leave the Rock House Trail at this point go over to the boulder and pick up the trail. Yes, a real trail at this point. This trail will complete the loop passing thru a scenic saddle and back to join the jeep road at the trailhead.

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2010-01-14 AZLOT69
    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
    Top Hat Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Arches & Top Hat via Hackamore
    What she said: [ triplog ]
    What he said: [ triplog ]

    I can't think of much to add but I will.
    It was a little windy/cool to start but after the unplanned summit of Top Hat, the sun pretty much stayed out and the breeze subsided. I'm glad we chose to summit Top Hat when we did as I doubt I would have toward the end. As summits go it really is pretty easy especially the way we took using the bedrock for traction for 1/2 of it. The views are surely worth the climb!

    and then the ridge walk down to Palo Verde Arch was another unplanned bonus for "as long as we're up here". You can get some nice pictures through both sides of the arch. Now from here down to Weeks Wash was a whole other ball game. It is difficult between the rolly poly rocks and the downess of it. Kelly and I remembered that from one of our hikes we did previous in this area.

    The rest of the hike toward Pedestal Arch was in and out and along some drainages with a path for some parts of it. We followed the track where you have to go alongside a wash (north), thru it and then back (south) as you go back toward the drainage and up it toward Pedestal. We didn't enjoy that part too much as you hate not going in a somewhat straight line. We ventured up the drainage and this is when I started to lose most of my energy and steam. We had started at 8:45 and it was now almost 1:00 PM without a break or snack. I usually need a break and/or snack around the 5 mile mark.

    I kept wanting to pullover for just a moment to refuel before finishing the ascent but that wasn't in the cards and just when I was ready to give up the ghost Kelly says from what looked to be a top area, "sit down for a moment and have a snack as you will want to have lunch at the Arch". She says, "you'll be sorry if you don't and you're so close". She and/or Ray were willing to carry my pack... but that wasn't the issue. I just needed a little fuel. Well Kelly hasn't steered me wrong yet so after a couple bites of my Payday and drinking some coconut water, up I went and there it was :y: . Whew!

    Now that the drama for the day was over, we enjoyed the company, the views and the weather. Kelly ventured south over to the top of a little mountain side and I joined her. As I was peaking over the side and she was running from a bee, I noticed the terrain looked a lot better for our descent so we decided to give that a try. It was a good choice. I hope that made up for the whining earlier. We made our way down to the drainage and took a bit of a shortcut from earlier and headed over for the next waypoint I had marked as "Must See". We hiked up to what I dubbed the Squishing Boulder so Kelly could see how far she could go but she got chock-stoned so had to come back the way she had started. Next it was to the Tunnel and that was really cool. We spotted some grinding holes too.

    We discussed following Mark's route to the south but because of time limitations and not knowing the area, we went back the way we came. We found the Figure 8 intersection up thru some bedrock but decided due to time once again to continue the way we came. It was a pretty hike back as the sun was lighting up the golden rock. We took a break below Top Hat before finishing off the hike with some great views toward the sun lighting up the Four Peaks, Weavers Needle and the Western Supes. We did have to pull aside for what seemed a mass exodus of ATVs. We were glad to be able to finally pull off the road.

    At the TH we all had a beer and enjoyed watching the sunset change the colors of the sky on various views around us. Ray headed home and Kelly and I went to Mammoth Steakhouse for some burgers and coffee. FYI - My sirloin burger was good but the Mammoth burger is much better. The service was a little slow this time but I like the place and it's close and open until 8. We even got fiddled at. Thx for a great hike as always Kelly. You got me up another peak. This is my second hike with Ray and second peak.

    1-13-2017 I only have one video up on youtube so far, two others are done in production with a few more to complete. I set out not wanting to film too much but alas, when it's so beautiful out there, it's hard not to. I also got carried away with the pictures but like Kelly says, I am a Documentarian... I'm thinking of changing it to Tibbernarian :lol: .

    Thank goodness for the long weekend, here are the videos:

    Top Hat Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Arches & Top Hat via Hackamore
    hikerdw and cannondalekid have done quite a few trips into the goldfields
    today we planned to see pedestal arch via hackamore trailhead, courtesy of the route dave has posted
    ray joined tibber and i for an 8:30 meet time
    the last mile to the trailhead is a bit bumpy, but easily manageable by swerving around the dips
    temps were slightly cool with a breeze to start with, warming up nicely to t-shirt conditions
    set off on a road, passing the green thumb
    next a horse trail, and i don't know how you guys find these trails other than trial and error
    this took us to the 4wd road that goes right past top hat, so we hiked up to the summit
    great views of the superstitions and goldfields from the summit :)
    took a slightly different route than john and i did last year, then dropped down the ridgeline to palo verde arch
    headed back to the road, then the drainage, then another horse trail
    about 3/4 mile of off trail heading up the pedestal arch
    followed dave's route up, but angela spotted what we thought was a better route down - less brush, more slickrock and shorter
    the arch was pretty cool; a new one for me
    had lunch, took pictures and headed down
    near the trail junction, there are some cool alcoves and even another arch, more like a tunnel in the rock base
    be fun to explore this area more another time
    finally headed back on our original route after a discussion of looping options that would have required more time
    spotted keyhole arch near the green thumb, and that will require a hands on visit next time
    finished up with tibber-provided beers and root beers :)
    ray headed home while angela and i had tasty burgers at the mammoth steakhouse - thank you for dinner!
    a fun day of exploring mostly new territory for me with good company and nice weather
    the goldfields are amazing
    i've been out there a half dozen times now, and feel like we've just seen a small percentage of what's available
    several trailheads yet to start from and features to find
    razorback knob and golden dome are high on my list
    the off-trail isn't bad - mostly good footing but some cactus to avoid
    the trails are unofficial, unsigned and not on any map
    a good topo and study of tenny's book might be helpful
    Top Hat Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Top Hat and the Arches
    in looking for more to explore in the goldfields, found three places of interest that could be linked together in one hike: the mask arches, twin arches and the summit of top hat
    john agreed to come along on this half road walk, half off-trail hike
    set out from dome mountain trailhead
    first went up to the mask, following angela's recent gps route
    there was a cairned path up the the arches, and the off trail had good footing and not much vegetation
    followed bulldog canyon to forest road 1356, passing the rock house along the way
    found the route up to trumpet and echo arches using azlot69's track
    it would have been very difficult to get up there without it
    as it was, we went up the hard way first, getting close to trumpet arch at a point where we lost sight of echo arch
    lots of cactus and scree on a steep slope; slow going
    went further west to find a way down, passing three feet from a bee hive, according to john
    as we dropped, we could see echo arch, so found another route up to get up close on both sides of this one
    headed for top hat, almost all off trail then eventually dropping to the road
    went around top hat, then up a drainage to what i think is palo verdo arch, gaining a ridgeline and going up to the summit
    this was a pretty straightforward ascent on decent terrain, and the summit was cool, too
    great views of the superstitions and four peaks
    windy, so we didn't stay long, taking a break back at the arch
    went north toward some lichen covered rocks and then down to the road
    came out near a fence, corral and cottonwood spring
    john found a seep, but i'm not sure that was it
    long road walk back to the truck, but plenty of good views throughout
    saw one more arch on the way back, near top hat
    i have tenny's book, and it's easier to make sense of his presentation after you've seen some of the landmarks
    the hike took longer than i thought it would, but we found some cool stuff
    stopped for burgers at the handlebar on the way home - good food :)
    weather was good all day, just starting to cloud up on the road walk back
    thanks for doing this one with me, john
    a nice day of exploration in the goldfields
    Top Hat Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    SE Goldfield Loop
    Nice hike in the Goldfield Mountains on Christmas Eve Day which included a mix of trail, road, and off-trail hiking. Had lunch at Cottonwood Spring area which was like an oasis in the desert. Really enjoyed the Blue Ridge area, the hike up Top Hat, and the trail portion of Bulldog Canyon.

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    Access by vehicle to the Top Hat trailhead is via Bull Dog Canyon OHV area and an administrative permit can be obtained at no cost from the Mesa Tonto Forest Office. The permit will allow further access beyond the gate for those with a four wheel drive vehicle. Highway 60 to Apache Junction exit 196, SR 88 ( the Apache Trail )north to milepost 199, turn left on Hackamore, 1.5 miles to the Packsaddle Trailhead. Take the Packsaddle trail north 2.25 miles to the Top Hat Loop Trailhead.
    page created by AZLOT69 on Jan 14 2010 4:40 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
    help comment issue

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