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Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain, AZ

no permit
207 16 1
Guide 16 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
3.3 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 13 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,600 feet
Elevation Gain 2,800 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,902 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8
Kokopelli Seeds 27.51
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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12  2018-12-09 MountainMatt
8  2018-04-29 trekkin_gecko
6  2018-04-29 johnlp
7  2018-04-21 hikerdw
15  2017-03-26
City Creek Loop
19  2017-03-09
City Creek Trail Mazatzal Divide South
52  2016-01-23 AZHiker456
36  2015-04-11 CannondaleKid
Page 1,  2
Author BelladonnaTook
author avatar Guides 12
Routes 9
Photos 1,291
Trips 58 map ( 568 miles )
Age 72 Male Gender
Location Lakeside, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Nov, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
In the Shadow of North Peak
by BelladonnaTook

Knob Mountain is visible from the trailhead and a few otherlocations along the way, but its really not very impessive and its pretty far away, so one assumes that nearer and bolder looking features are the destination. Only when you are almost there do you realize you've been looking toward the wrong peaks the whole way.

From the parking area, the trail leads south across FR 406 and City Creek and then heads upstream, parallelling the creek but moving gradually away from it to the west and above it. Within the first quarter mile one encounters evidence of the fire of summer, 2004, mainly charred shrubs and small trees. About a mile along the path veers shaply west, climbing a low ridge and leaving the fire damage, temporarily, behind. For another mile or so the way continues through unburned mainly pinion and juniper woods at a gentle grade; and as the closeness of the live trees prevents any long views forward, side or back, the gaze is drawn upward to the hulk of North Peak straight ahead. North Peak will dominate the field of vision all the way to Knob Mountain.

Rather abruptly the trail becomes somewhat steeper and leaves all living vegetation behind. From here nearly to the top the scene is totally burned devestation. With nothing left to hold the soil in place, rains since the fire are eroding the ridges and trying to scour the trail from the slopes. Amazingly, there are few washouts, mainly at the heads of draws, and the path remains visible and walkable throughout its entire course. Continually following ridges, the trail climbs at a constant but not punishing grade that employs only four switchbacks in its 6.5 mile length.

Because no trees remain in the way, good views to the north and east accompany the hiker until the trail levels off above 6,000 feet about a half mile short of the summit. Here sizable areas of vegetation are unburned, a refreshing sight after several miles traversing near-moonscape terrain. The top of Knob Mountain did burn, but other than North Peak, now very close at hand, views from there are not impressive.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2004-11-29 BelladonnaTook
    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
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    First time hiking in the northern Mazzies for both of us. We flushed a large white raptor on the ascent. Probably a ferruginous hawk. By process of elimination, we figured out where Knob Mountain was and hit the high point. The Divide trail has a steady incline through the steep brushy mountains. Well constructed. The Mazzies are big and bold. Didn't see another person all day.
    Good hike. Thanks Kelly. :)
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    one of the best things about haz is the ideas you get from other people, this one courtesy of @hikerdw
    john and i have been looking for new hikes and had not done anything in the area
    got to city creek trailhead and started hiking up the divide trail a little before 0700
    cool at first, but a steady grade uphill made layers unnecessary
    the trail is in great condition = mostly good footing and very little catclaw
    the middle miles went through an exposed burn area
    without route scout and just recording on my gps, we were not sure which high point was knob mountain
    figured it out, though, and had a snack at the top
    john was able to confirm with his phone
    not much of a mountain, but i'm counting the peak since i only have three new ones for the year :lol:
    heading down as the wind came up, our view much of the time was the tinder fire blowing up :o
    not good
    as david mentioned, the road is in good condition with just one short rutted area
    john bought lunch at a thai restaurant in payson afterwards - good food, thank you :)
    not the most scenic hike, but a new trail in a new area with good company - nice
    aeg seems a little high

    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    First time hiking from the City Creek TH. The drive in was smooth, mostly paved with the exception of 2 short dirt sections. The hike up was very nice, a steady climb but at a very hiker friendly grade. Once up top we took in the views and had our traditional lunch break. On the hike down you are really able to take in the sights and since you are now hiking downhill it was easy to get moving at a quicker than normal pace and lose your footing. I took one fall and almost another before forcing myself to intentional slow down at my normal hiking pace.

    Wildlife sightings were 1 bull snake and 2 white-tail deer.

    We will definitely be hiking from this location again :D
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    Pretty nice loop from City Creek trailhead - up MD #23 to The Park, down North Peak to Mineral Creek trailhead, then back north down Pole Hollow Canyon to the start. The climb up MD #23 is excellent, with good trail and big views (but zero shade, start early). Unfortunately the first two miles of North Peak trail leaving The Park are sheer misery - faint, heavily overgrown, downed trees, etc. Thankfully some kind soul has hung literally hundreds of red ribbons to mark the way through the manzanita jungle. Things improve greatly as you head down the ridge, but it will take a major effort to restore the upper section. Pole Hollow Canyon works nicely to connect the trailheads - generally easy hiking either down in the drainage or up on the bench on either side. Also did a side out-and-back from The Park south to Hopi Spring.

    Water along the trails:
    Plenty of flow in City Creek at the trailhead.
    Light flow in Wet Bottom Creek just south of The Park.
    Trickles from Hopi Spring.
    Light flow in Mineral Creek below the spring.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    Another weekend Tracey had off so where do we go? Somewhere new to us, somewhere cooler, and you know, somewhere with a trail.

    Under the gun again (as usual, waiting until the night before) I picked an area at that may fit the bill, popped a bunch of trails into Route Manager, downloaded them to HAZ Tracks and packed up the Jeep.

    Just a quick drive up 87 to Payson, out Doll Baby Road to Dolly Baby trailhead, pitched out tent 1/4 mile from the trailhead, then drove back to City Creek trailhead and hit the trail. While Tracey had demanded a trail, she said nothing about AEG.
    Well we're here now, so quit'yer complainin' and keep climbing!
    Once up at the saddle just east of the summit Tracey reminded me of the must-be-a-trail dictate so I was on my own to the summit. And so I got to do a bunch of wandering while on the round-trip to the summit. I love wandering as that's when I usually make the interesting finds, in this case, as rusted McLeod. (see the photoset if you have no idea what that is)

    A great hike to get Tracey out of the doldrums and stresses of work. I've got enough stress just planning these things. ;)

    Knob Mountain summit panorama
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    Threw together a last minute backpacking loop - did this because Chumley/FOTG's triplogs were the only recent backpacking trips close enough to town.

    The park is nice, Pete's pond is cloudy/silty, but a good source. Surprisingly it was about 45-50 degrees at sundown but warmed up to about 60 at midnight to 6AM and dropped back down to 45 around sunrise.

    Finished the MDT by trekking out to the Rock creek Trail/Hopi Spring. Some of these areas of the Mazatzals are actually recovering from the fire, but are still decades away from full restoration. Back to camp to pack up and head down the North Peak trail. The first two miles of this trail are pretty terrible. The last 2 to the trailhead are more reasonable. Thanks to Hank and Chris for posting the GPS as I needed it at one point where the trail does the most illogical detour. Neither of the trails has much repeat value.

    The mineral creek area is nice but the creek dried up before reaching the trailhead. Favorite part of the trip was seeing a herd of javelina while walking the shortcut back to the car.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    beauty of a hike with jj. we went up the mazzy divide to red hills. this was a tough climb in the brutal heat but had very rewarding views on the way up. i was surprised by the red hills stretch shortly thereafter, very nice trees and little canyons/draws. super nice!

    we descended down to LF Ranch as the sun was starting to set. met up with Mary Ann and her cast of merry characters and had ourselves an outright good old time staying the night there. She had dinner with us and chatted, while we learned about the area and all her hilarious pets and animals running around. great day and especially great night on the AZT :y:
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    Friday forecast was good so I took the day off. I went up Maz Divide to Knob Mtn and off trail along the ridge to Red Hills trail. This is the old route shown on old topos, saw a few cairns. I found an old firefighter rake and an old campsite. From here I took Red Hills back up and then down MDT. The area is recovering a bit. Saw a buzzworm, a deer and a gopher snake.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
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    Day 1: City Creek TH to Fuller Seep. Jim found a nice axe on the trail and carried it for the next 4 days.

    Day 2: Fuller seep to lower Wet Bottom Creek crossing (see profile photo and thank you Jim or wading in and rescuing my hiking socks that had blown into the creek :sl: ) and then back track to Midnight trail and down to Upper Wet Bottom Creek crossing.

    Day 3: Upper WBC to The Park. This stretch of Midnight trail is really cool.

    Day 4: Down North Peak trail and along Pole Hollow to City Creek TH.

    We were lucky enough to do this incredible loop before the Willow Fire by just 3 months.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To City Creek Trailhead
    From Highway 87 in Payson, take Main Street west. Pavement ends after a couple miles, and road becomes FR 406. About 9 miles from end of pavement, City Creek trailhead and parking are on right. If you come to a ranch house and out buildings beside the road, you've gone about a quarter mile too far.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 97.0 mi, 2 hours 11 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 195 mi, 3 hours 41 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 116 mi, 2 hours 41 mins
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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