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Ragged Top - Northwest Gulley, AZ

no permit
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Guide 7 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson W
4.1 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,200 feet
Elevation Gain 1,300 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.5
Kokopelli Seeds 11
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
6  2017-02-25
Ragged Top
4  2017-02-25
Ragged Top
23  2014-11-03 Jim_H
7  2006-10-13 keepmoving
7  2005-11-14 fricknaley
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,743 map ( 18,146 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Dec, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:30pm
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Terminator impressions
by fricknaley

Oh man am I fired up about Ragged Top. I've had my eyes on this one for a while. Ragged Top is a very distinctive range/peak in the northern part of Ironwood National Monument. There are no trails here at this time so this hike is a short but tough scramble and bushwack through pristine desert, then up a gulley of your choice for simply wicked scenery. If you are lucky you may be accompanied by a desert bighorn along the way (I was not...bummer).

As you face the northern aspect of the Ragged Top you will notice there are two especially prominent gulleys facing pretty much due north. There's a steeper one just west of the main summit and a second, somewhat less steep one west/right of the first. I'll call this second one the Northwest Gulley. I chose this one because it ascends two saddles, then wraps around to the southwest side of the peak, where you are basically enclosed 270 degrees + by canyon and peaks that all the pictures in the world would never do justice and also because I have a mild hamstring injury (should probably be resting that). The first steeper canyon is the route to the summit of Ragged Top, which is for another day.

Alright, the first part is basically an easy desert scramble straight towards the huge gulley just west of the summit. I headed for this one and then accessed the northwest gulley from here, they seem to start as one. Nothing fancy here, I just did my best Terminator impression in a straight line for the canyon. The desert you pass through is just perfect. You'll notice a wash winding around that ultimately leads up into base of the mountain and canyon. It is roughly 1.25 miles to this point.

You will gradually begin climbing now and the canyon is wide. You can see where it splits with a shelf of ground inbetween. Basically just start angling to your right towards the northwest gulley, which is essentially always visible. You will see the first saddle, and aim towards it. There is no trail, but occasionally I seemed to stumble upon what appeared to be a very faint game trail. If it works for them, it works for me. A note to remember is that the footing is occasionally loose, so be careful; poles or a sturdy stick may be useful for this hike. As you attain the first saddle you will realize that the range opens up towards the south via a couple of more canyons, and your views to the north (including Picacho) are great. You will also see the second saddle up and to your left, southeast of where you stand.

Angle along the left canyon wall towards saddle number two, which is not very far away at all. Again, you may pick up game trails here and there, which are quite useful. The footing becomes more loose here. As you attain the second saddle things become even better. Huge spires surround you on every side. Birds soar down the southern canyon. It's pretty sweet. To your left or due east now climbs the main ridge of peaks including the summit (which would be near impossible to reach from here I think). However, you can climb up the closest peak and explore along the ridge line until vertical spires stop your progress. It requires some climbing, but nothing technical. I would recommend checking it out if you have the time. As you climb up and around, you'll find a route that works for you and ultimately dumps you on a third kind of smaller saddle. This spot is just fantastic. Peaks and the large southern canyon nearly enclose you. I hung out here for a while enjoying a really unbelievable place and celebrating my 1000th mile hiked in Arizona since moving here. There are also scattered shallow caves that I noticed everywhere, interesting and no doubt a nice hangout for something.

From here head back down the way you came, or as close as can be expected. As you reach the base and start your scramble back, just go nearly due north (just a touch east of north) and you'll be back at your car soon, or at least on Silverbell which you can easily walk back. I would recommend gloves, pants, sturdy boots, plenty of water and a compass for this hike.

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2005-11-14 fricknaley
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BLM Division Details
Ironwood Forest National Monument Fact Sheet

The Ironwood Forest National Monument is located 25 miles northwest of Tucson, and about one hour by highway south of Phoenix.

This 129,000-acre national monument contains a significant system of cultural and historical sites covering a 5,000 year period. Possessing one of the richest stands of Ironwood trees in the Sonoran Desert, the monument also encompasses several desert mountain ranges including the Silver Bell, Waterman and Sawtooth, with desert valleys in between. Elevation ranges from 1,800 to 4,261 feet. Three areas within the monument, the Los Robles Archeological District, the Mission of Santa Ana del Chiquiburitac and the Cocoraque Butte Archeological District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are two main points of entry - Interstate 10 at Avra Valley Road, and Interstate 10 from the Red Rock exit, southwest on Sasco Road to Silverbell Road.

Permits Required
Activities that were permitted on these public lands before the designation are still permitted, except for new mining claims and geothermal leasing. Commercial activities require a permit. The BLM processes new permits for special activities mostly involving recreation, such as mountain biking events.

Recreational Opportunities
With a stunning diversity of bird and animal life, the monument offers visitors many opportunities for viewing wildlife. A dazzling display of spring wildflowers result from abundant winter rains. There are no facilities. Camping is allowed up to 14 days. Taking your vehicle off roads or trails is prohibited.

Facilities - None

Visits to the area require special planning and awareness of such potential hazards as rugged and unmarked roads, abandoned mine shafts, poisonous reptiles and insects, extreme heat and flash floods. Visitors should bring plenty of water and gasoline, and stay on main roads.

BLM Tucson Field Office
12661 East Broadway
Tucson, AZ 85748-7208
(520) 258-7200
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
Ragged Top - Northwest Gulley
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I joined Chumley and John on this great little loop hike out at Ironwood NM. I didn't even know an Ironwood National Monument existed before this hike. :)

From the southern saddle, the route up the small chute to the top of the peak is engaging and fun. Descending the northwest gulley tops off the experience.

Great pick Chums!
Ragged Top - Northwest Gulley
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I had a short window for a Saturday hike, and this one has been knocking for a while.

We did the full loop in much less time than I had planned for based on some of the previous triplogs that had been posted. (Could have easily made it back in time for a ballgame :sweat: ).

The mileage isn't long and the terrain doesn't slow you down too much either. Views from up top were nice. If I return here, I'll plan to explore more of the ragged ridgeline or some of the other peaks nearby as BobP once did.

Having never been in the area before, one surprising highlight is how beautiful the surrounding desert is. The drive both to and from was remarkable. Ironwood National Monument is a winner! :)
Ragged Top - Northwest Gulley
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I declare the desert winter peak bagging season, OPEN!

OK, here is an angry looking mountain if I have ever seen one, and aside from the summit every part of it is somehow nasty. It just doesn't want you here. But, if you persevere against the sliding slope and the angry, pointy vegetation, you have a really nice view. I know it was more, since there is some up and down, but the simple summit to parking area is 1600'. I skipped AEG for this.
Ragged Top - Northwest Gulley
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Climbed the steeper gulley in an attempt to reach the highest peak. Hiked/climbed all the way up to a small saddle where I turned West and climbed up some rocks to reach a peak. To my disappointment I climbed the wrong one and was actually about 20 to 30 feet lower than the actual summit which turned out to be over to the East. Spent some time at the top admiring the view and interesting rock formations and hoping to see a desert bighorn sheep (to no avail).

Although I didn't have enough time or energy left to attempt the actual summit I did take some time eyeing the approach to it. Although from my vantage point it looked nearly impossible, I'm sure ill go back sometime soon and attempt to reach the top.

I would suggest to anyone attempting this hike to either bring a GPS or pay special attention to where your car is parked in relation to the mountain in order to find where you parked on the return trip. My GPS died on me during the hike back so I had difficulty finding where I parked. Considering the sun was setting and theres no trail back to the parking lot, I got lucky and ended up hitting the road a little less than a quarter mile away from where I was parked.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
Easiest is probably from I-10. Take exit 232 and go west towards Pinal Airpark. Just before the park the road turns left and runs south as Trico Road. Follow this to Silverbell (roughly 3-4 miles) and turn right onto Silverbell. Stay on Silverbell as it runs west and north. At about 8.5 miles in it turns into a good gravel road. At roughly 12.5 miles in there is a rusted signpost on your left and a small turn in on the left. Follow this in to a circle loop and park. The north face of Ragged Top and it's two gulley are in front of you.
1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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