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Governors Peak, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
Rated
3.3
3.3 of 5 by 19
 
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,900 feet
Elevation Gain 1,358 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
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10  2018-12-15 Nightstalker
8  2018-02-16 AZWanderingBear
10  2017-12-23
Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
joebartels
18  2017-12-23
Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
The_Eagle
16  2017-01-29 AZBeaver
13  2017-01-29 trekkin_gecko
48  2017-01-29 tibber
6  2017-01-20
Garfias-Hell-Gov Peak Loop
MountainMatt
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Feb, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:17am - 6:26pm
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Pleasant views
by joebartels

Hells Canyon Wilderness packs top notch views within its small boundaries. The vertical exchange between peaks and canyons offers several opportunities for peak baggin' enthusiast. Governors Peak is an excellent choice for the northeastern wilderness. Access to the trailhead is among the easiest for this area.

From the trailhead you immediately drop down into the huge wash. Which, in fact, is Castle Creek. It's interesting to imagine what type of thunderstorm it takes to fill this broad swath. If you have really good eyesight you can just make out the white login podium across the wide creek bed. If not just remember it's north of the fence by maybe a tenth of a mile. The trail starts on the north side of the low-lying mesquite filled canyon dumping into Castle Creek.

The Spring Valley Trail takes off up a small rise then heads fairly flat in a west-southwestern line. It's well maintained but you will only be on this trail for a short distance. Be on the lookout for the Hermit Trail slanting out to the right. It's less noticeable and the junction is not signed. As of this writing it was cairned. If you miss the junction, the Spring Valley Trail soon dips through a wash so you shouldn't loose much time.

On the Hermit Trail you appear to be headed for the steep ridge ahead. Fear not as the trail slowly curves northeast gently rising you to the first of three saddles. Prior to the first saddle be sure to peek over your shoulder and catch a view of Lake Pleasant. Up to this point I was determined to rate this trail well established and maintained. I figure the wildflower displays would be stunning in the wetter years. However with yet another dry winter behind us I wasn't surprised to find such few examples. On the return trip I noticed Arizona-wildflower-queen Christine Maxa entered the area on January 25th. I'd venture to guess she stayed on the Spring Valley Trail.

Continue over the saddle. The trail drops into a tight/deep ravine and back up quickly. In fact it keeps raising a bit more to yet another saddle. This area is simply awesome. This ravine is larger and is named Four Tanks Canyon. The Hermit Trail ends at this saddle. The Bell Trail continues on. Why the change in trails? Well the Bell Trail is an older trail that used to quickly gain this ridge. Private property changed all that good stuff and the Hermit Trail was blazed to accommodate.

A few steps down into Four Tanks Canyon and you'll soon realize this trail is definitely older and overgrown. If only it was that good! Upon reaching the bottom you're faced with a hearty ascent. Bad news being the trail is more or less gone. The good news being it's not much further to Governors Peak. Peak 2992 looms sharp to your right and its slopes are plastered with healthy Saguaros. It's a stunning view!

With basically no trail to follow you need to study the map. The old trail is cairned but I wouldn't waist much time on the scattered mix of cairns. Here's what it boils down to. You have Peak 2992 on your right. The peak ahead of you is a false peak to Governors Peak, but it can be conquered inline if you so desire. The route of choice is to gain a saddle, jag left and then ascend Governors Peak. Which is easy but you will want to watch your footing.

The views are magnificent in all directions. If this is your first trip in the area you will likely be salivating at the options in the western range of Hells Canyon Wilderness! Just remember to bring a good map as there's private property scattered about. Then again it's hard to miss with all the signage flaunting machine guns... lol

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2004-02-16 joebartels
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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 of 21 deeper Triplog Reviews
Governors Peak
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The cool overcast day seemed to cry out for an interesting hike with some decent elevation gain. We parked just off Caste Hot Springs road just after 10.

The trail starts easy enough, slightly uphill and crossing some washes, well marked, decent footing, well defined trail, lots of cairns. Ran into 3 other hikers coming back down about the halfway point. From here it gets interesting -- loose footing, rock scrambles, fainter trail. Had the track on Gaia on my phone and cross checked it fairly often. The trail seems to have two routes as you start up the final wash. One set of cairns keeps you low in the wash with significant scrambling. The high route run parallel on the eastern side and is much more accommodating. We figured that out on the way down.

The recent rains had left a lot of small rock pool of water in the drainages. Life is good in the hills right now.

The saddle at the top of the last wash had a surprise for us. Looking east at the at the edge of the ridge line was a small window. It is in the vicinity of N33° 58.355' W112° 22.078'.

The summit had the great views you'd expect. Seems to be a lot of construction work at historic Castle Hot Springs. Another Arizona destination in the works?

Back at the trailhead we poked around the old ruins at the mouth of the wash before heading back to find a huge garbage burger with all the fixin's.

Governors Peak
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Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
Pre dawn start with temps in the 30's and dead batteries in the head lamp. The cell phone sufficed for the first 20 minutes until daylight.

We warmed up with the uphill on the Spring Valley Trail with the sun rising. This is a real nice trail to take with the sun rising over Lake Pleasant.

Dropping into Garfias Wash, we seemed to loose about 10 degrees of temperature. This is an easy wash walk with interesting geology. Some may not like the need to empty the sand out of your shoes occasionally (like BoeJartels)

We got to an area that we practiced Safety First and Joe waited, while I scoped out a bit farther towards Hell Canyon.

Back to pick up Joe and headed up the unnamed side canyon we'd been in a few times before. I remembered there being one area of concern for our Safety First campaign. Slow and steady and we made our way up the 12' dry fall. Oops, forgot about the second one. The best we could do on this one, was safety second. With a bit of time and patience, 20'er negotiated.

The climb to Governors Peak from our angle was steep but straightforward. Great views for lunch. First lunch I can remember where we could see the end of the hike and truck, some 3 miles away.

Governors Peak 360
[ youtube video ]

Great day in Hell.

No Burros sighted, we were brayed twice.


Governors Peak
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Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
Here's a little loop Bruce wrote six years ago. That one ended on a sour note with a private property scolding. We hiked a bonafide legal version with Ben four years ago. This nearby gem felt like a good fit for a tight holiday schedule. If you enjoy moderately challenging off trail adventures & live near the Valley you might enjoy exploring.

Spring Valley Trail
The morning light through this desert jungle never disappoints. Per usual I asked myself why I've neglected more visits.

Garfias Wash
Under 3 miles in take a right off trail into Garfias. If it rubs you the wrong way turn back pdq because 5 miles of sand and gravel is looking to scold your feet. 6 miles in on a short out-n-back towards Horse Creek we found slow running water and a good twenty foot diameter pool capped with half inch thick ice. The first two hours of our hike were cold and it's been cold recently in the valley... still seemed unexpected.

I took a break at the pool while Bruce scrambled up creek. Autumn auditioned technicolor magic on a willow and cottonwood. Along with a trickling creek and the warmth of the sun after a chilly start was a real treat.

Unnamed Creek
Not sure if this one is named. We take it NW out of Garfias to the SW side of Governors Peak. There are 2 areas to scramble. No biggie for most. It was just in my range with lots of help from Bruce. I get by fine and adapt on most things one handed. Crumbly rock scrambles without corrective-balance race nightmares through the mind at warp speed.

Governors Peak
The western approach is semi steep and semi loose. Nothing horrible, going up is less prone to accidents and a trail gets you down the South. We lunched with a curious bee Bruce dubbed George. Excellent internet kept lunch social.

Synopis
Great little adventure-hike near the valley with exotic terrain, a smorgasbord of cacti and a hint of water.

Consumed 38 oz water

Foliage
2 days to Christmas, Autumn keeps on giving. Cottonwoods, Willows & Tamarisk looking nice
Governors Peak
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Kelly, Kelly, Kelly :lol: thot I would like this. Well she was right about one part, it was beautiful. I guess I didn't realize how much up and down and up and down and up, up, up there was as the profile didn't look that dramatic. And really it's not a bad hike; not sure why I was so whiny. And after all, I did Skull Mesa in December and that seemed easier... go figure.

Anyway, it was a very nice day and the first couple miles are on trail so that was good. You hike up from the dry Castle Creek to a sort of bench-like area. We hiked thru many areas that could have been almost golf-course like for all the green thick grass. You hike above the drainage thru an ocotillo and then a cholla area before crossing over the drainage and start heading for the first hill. The hill has nice switchbacks to get you to the top and then you go down and around and up another little hill and down into the Four Tanks drainage. You cross over that and from there, it's cairnville for the rest of the hike where you try to find the best route weaving you in and around flora and rocks and up to another saddle.

At each saddle you always have wonderful views. I caught my breath and then we hung a left for our next ascent to another saddle via a rock outcropping and then the final ascent to the top of the saddle. From here, besides the great views, we would now finish off this peak hiking UP on the grass with rocks and flora scattered about. The others made it to the top rather quickly so I could hear them but not see them. I eventually found my way to where I heard the voices, did the little rock scramble and voila, I was on top as well :) . The views of the mountains and the lake were pretty cool. We had a snack and then some more photo taking before heading down the mountain.

It seemed a long ways down and I for one was glad to get back to a trail. So up we went to the saddle and then down and up to the last saddle from where we switch-backed down still admiring the green grass at our feet and on the hillside. The lake was bluer now so much prettier to take pictures of especially as we hiked above the drainage down toward what I call the bench. At the trailhead Kelly took us aside to show us the remains of an old ranching operation. Stuff like that is always fascinating. We went up to the little dam and drainage that contained the cistern which probably fed the trough below.

We had our celebratory beer before heading back to town but not before stopping to take a look at the dozen burros we spotted from the road. We pulled over and tried to get some pictures; they were pretty far away. All in all a good day, a quick get away and a hike, now that I know what it is, I would be more mentally prepared for. Thanks Kelly for dragging me up another peak; what's up with that :lol: ? Thanks Mary Jo for red beer and pizza afterward. Great to hike with Stephanie again; she's new to this so I tried to teach her cairn/trail reading.

2-1-2017 Videos are in production. Hope to be done in a couple days. I'm trying to finish my east coast and Rincon videos too. Just not enough time in my day... 2-4-17, they're finally done.
Part 1 to saddle - [ youtube video ]
Part 2 to next saddle - [ youtube video ]
Part 3 to the Peak and back to drainage (Four Tanks Cany) - [ youtube video ]
Part 4 heading over a couple more saddles - [ youtube video ]
Part 5 the ranch remains, the burros - [ youtube video ]
Governors Peak
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second time up governors peak this month
thought angela, wade and mary jo would like this hike
maybe didn't assess that correctly on tibber's account :lol:
wade couldn't make it, but mj's neighbor stephanie came along
nice weather with clear skies and perfect temps
good trail to four tanks wash/canyon, then some route finding is needed the last mile
a gps track is quite helpful
great views again from the top
easier to see the route down
explored the old ranch house foundation and debris again
checked out the dam
fun day with the girls!
Governors Peak
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Hiking Governor's Peak near Castle Hot Springs today with Angela Romain (Tibber) and Kelly Hiatt (Trekkin Gecko) and my neighbor Stephanie Balt (Mrs. Balt) .....she really needs to change her hiking name but that's another story. What a fantastic day! The weather was absolutely perfect. Sunny, no wind, warm and beautiful. I always love going out to the Lake Pleasant area as the views in every direction are stunning. There's a confusing area where the trail splits (take the right side) with large cairns on the left and the right and in the middle. People love building cairns in this area all the way up until about the last mile. That's where you really need your trail scouting skills. Hiking this trail seemed easy at first although you are quickly heading up and then down one saddle to climb up another. Once you caught your breath and stopped at a flat spot, you take in the views--360 degrees of them. The desert looked more like a golf course. Grass growing everywhere thanks to the rain we've been getting lately. Once you reach the peak, you look down on the Castle Hot Springs resort. I hope the new owners build this place back to it's beautiful original status and open it up to the public. Lots of history there. I totally enjoyed my day with some great gals.
Governors Peak
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The way the holidays landed this year both Kelly and I had consecutive Mondays off. This was our second hike and a bit mellow compared to last week. The road in was muddy as the area had gotten a lot of recent rain. We decided to park and walk through the freshly graded, soft and uneven road in the wash. Everything had been under water just a few hours earlier.

The trail was wet but in good shape. Very little mud. Running water everywhere. After a few hundred yards we got off the trail in a small wash. We had to bypass several pools of water or get wet. Kelly liked this part so much she wanted to go home. I talked her into hiking for ten more minutes before deciding to call it quits. Shortly thereafter we got back on the correct route and then it was smooth sailing.

We ventured a ways up four tanks canyon to check out some small waterfalls before heading to the peak. Very cool. Views from the summit are outstanding. Weather was calm so we hung out and ate some treats, including Kelly's homemade cookies. Yum!

On the descent we saw Chumley in front of us. We picked up the pace but didn't close the gap. Guess it wasn't him lol. Near the trailhead we poked around and found an old foundation, spring box, pipes, dam, etc.

Fun hike. Recommended. Thanks for provided the transport Kelly. We stopped at the Ole Brass Rail for lunch and entertainment after the hike. Good times. :)
Governors Peak
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governors has been on our list since we hiked peak 3465 in the hieroglyphic mountains last year
john had the day off so we headed for the west side
the area has had quite a bit of rain over the past few days so we ended up parking along castle hot springs road before it drops into the creek bed
good decision, as part of the road would not have been passable at the time
added about a mile each way to the hike :?
crossed the wash, found the start of the trail near the sign-in register (no paper, plenty of pens)
about .4 miles in, got sucked into a deeper drainage full of pools
had to bypass above and have to admit that i whined a bit, not being up for a day of off trail bushwhacking
found the correct trail soon after, and the rest of the hike was pretty straightforward
up and over two saddles, with nice scenery unfolding as we got higher
dropped into four tanks wash and then up to the last saddle below governors
somewhere in there we took time to explore a drainage full of running water and even some waterfalls
one more spot where cairns were too numerous and had to negotiate the correct path
for the most part, the trail was nicely graded and led to a relatively easy summit
great views of castle hot springs, lake pleasant and the surrounding mountains
the wet weather brought out good color in the terrain and vegetation
spent several minutes on top
saw that cleghorn, the dude and azwildguide had signed in this year
headed down, and found the trail easier to follow from above
near the register, found the remains of an old ranch house along with some other junk
also a spring box, an old dam and a pipe - kinda cool to see that old stuff
very nice hike and a good peak to start the new year
john even bought lunch at the brass rail on the way home :) thanks!
Governors Peak
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Nice peak. Well marked trails with cairns that I think I could see from Castle Hot Springs Rd. Saw two wild burro and six javelina. Also saw a location where I am pretty sure that someone with a rock hammer was looking for gold. I'm 95% sure of it... Didn't see a soul the entire time.

Unfortunately got a flat tire on Castle Hot Springs Rd. but at least it was on the paved portion! :? :? :?
Governors Peak
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First time hiking in the Hieroglyphics, good stuff. We got a nice 7 a.m. start at the TH for this one and it was hot already. We did end up getting some shade for the last hour of the hike, otherwise lots of good, blaring sun. The trail is pretty easy to follow for the most part, although it does fade away a bit towards the saddle. Nice views all around from the top, Lake Pleasant is of course front and center, but lots of mountains to look at too. I managed to break my new truck on this trip...hit a large 'crow' on the paved section of Castle Hot Springs road. There were some scavengers feeding on a dead javelina at the side of the road, and despite my slowing down and swerving to the side, one was dumb enough to break in front of the truck anyway. Slammed right in to the grill of my truck, no external damage, but it cracked the grill vent flap housing...at least I have the bumper to bumper warranty. Always an adventure.

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Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From Phoenix head north on I-17 to the Carefree Highway (SR74)
Go west 10.8 miles to Castle Hot Springs Road (the Lake Pleasant turn off)
Turn right onto Castle Hot Springs Road and follow 5.2 miles to the "T" intersection. Turn left and follow 5.0 miles to pullout on left side of dirt road. It's right after a cattle guard so you can't miss it. There is an old barbed wire fence webbed with dead branches coming down through a huge wash up to the cattle guard. It seems odd parking on this mini cliff but it's correct. From your vehicle continue up the road maybe 20 yards. The trail is barely marked with a fiberglass flex-stake and goes straight DOWN!

Note to cars: A car can access this area in dry road conditions. A wet road will prove difficult. Be very careful turning around on this road... the edges and beyond are extremely soft soil. Two wheel drive vehicles dig into this type of soil. Also note: if you miss the trailhead the road travels through Castle Creek in sections, this is tricky in a car if your momentum is off.
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