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Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop, AZ

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Guide 79 Triplogs  9 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
3.8 of 5 by 22
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.14 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,200 feet
Elevation Gain 1,540 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,540 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.84
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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3  2019-09-03 LJW
16  2018-07-07 Nightstalker
34  2018-06-30
Central Sierra Ancha Tour
11  2018-06-01
Abbey's Way Extended Loop
13  2018-05-27
Sierra Ancha wander
3  2018-02-04
Reynolds Creek Trail #150
26  2017-10-08 Jim_H
12  2017-09-14 AZLumberjack
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Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:28pm
Official Route
13 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Edward Abbey pilgrimage
by Randal_Schulhauser

Likely In-Season!
I am a frequent visitor to the Sierra Anchan Range located east of Lake Roosevelt. The numerous archeological sites have been a primary attraction for me, but for some reason I haven't ascended a single peak in this range. Located within the Tonto National Forest, Aztec Peak at 7,748 feet elevation (or 7,694 feet by some sources) ranks as the 41st highest prominence in the state of Arizona.

Although I haven't located any direct evidence of prehistoric occupation near Aztec Peak, the eastern drainage into Cherry Creek and the southern drainage into Coon Creek is dotted with multiple archeological sites, some noted within HAZ hike descriptions. The western drainage near Gisela also has multiple sites. Given the proximity of Aztec Peak to these known sites only suggests they haven't been discovered (or disclosed).

The Apache War years from 1866 to 1886 marked some patrols around Aztec Peak. Members of the US 14TH U.S. Infantry based out of Fort Reno on the western slope of the Tonto Basin were involved in these patrols as noted by Lt. George W. Chilson reports dated 1867 to 1870. General Nelson A. Miles established a heliograph communication network by 1886 that utilized Aztek Peak. Typically the US Army heliograph had two mirrors mounted on a tripod with a shutter for interrupting the flashes.

The Pleasant Valley War primarily centered near and north of Young also spilled over into the region. Made famous by Zane Grey's western novel "To The Last Man", one of the combatants was shot in 1887 near a high waterfall assumed to be Workman Creek Falls. Nearby McFadden Horse Trail is also linked to this frontier feud.

Another attraction along the way is Workman Creek Waterfalls. At 180 feet, these falls offer spectacular views and a unique challenge to rock climbers. Named for one of the areas late 1880's pioneers, Harry Wertman, the spelling has evolved just as it sounds.

Remnants from other early pioneers can be found at the Peterson Ranch and the Carr Ranch. Check out the apple orchard on the Peterson Meadow. This is remarkably similar to Reavis Ranch orchard in the Superstitions. I was surprised to find out that the Carr Ranch also served as a summertime resort during the 1920's.

The lookout tower located at the Aztec Peak summit has gained some notoriety due to its famous inhabitant during the summers of 1977, 1978, and 1979. Edward Abbey worked as a Forest Service Fire Spotter stationed at the Aztec Peak Lookout Tower. This work experience becomes a source of multiple references within "Confessions of a Barbarian". This lookout tower itself was constructed in 1956 and is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register at US#192 and AZ#02.

The April 2000 Coon Creek Fire has left its scars throughout much of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness area. Interesting that Preston Sand's hike description for Parker Creek Trail 160 originates from a pre-fire backpack. I'm happy to report that restoration and regeneration is progressing although I'm sure it will never be the same!

Start your hike from the road closure barrier at FR487 near the Falls camp ground. A steady ascent of 405 feet for 0.65 miles along the closed Forest Road and you will arrive at the precipice for Workman Creek Waterfall. Gaze back to the northwest to view a pine covered Workman Creek Canyon.

FR487 will track along the headwaters of Workman Creek. This riparian area attracts a variety of wildlife. We saw many species of birds, particularly hummingbirds. A lone deer bounded across the road and some trees had scratching evident of bear activity.

At mile 1.2 and 760 feet above the road closure barrier, we came to the Abbey's Way 151 west trailhead. A passing Forest Service vehicle stopped and we were informed that although the trail is passable, it has not been maintained this year and route finding may be a challenge. We were told to expect many wind fallen trees and areas of extreme over growth. We were also cautioned about hazards from fire-killed trees should we encounter wind or rain. Showing our trusty GPS and a copy of the online Forest Service map, the Rangers felt confident that we'd be able to tackle the challenge.

Through some initial dense fern growth, we were able to locate a series of cairns marking the Abbey's Way 151 trail. The trail soon passed through a burned area. Route finding isn't difficult in this area as the trail seems to have been cleared.

At mile 1.4 a lush open meadow appears. This demarks the old Peterson Ranch as well as the source of the Workman Creek. The trail hugs the northern perimeter of the meadow. Our first glimpse of the Aztec Peak Lookout Tower can be seen from this vantage.

At mile 1.7 the trail begins a steady ascent up Aztec Peak. Route finding can be tricky at this point. On two occasions the trail appeared to vanish with multiple wind fallen trees blocking any apparent route. Scan the area looking for chain saw cuts or rock cairns to pick up the trail again. If completely "stumped", spot the Lookout Tower and climb up. Through a series of switch backs you are soon rewarded with some spectacular views as you near the summit.

At mile 2.9 we are at the base of the Aztec Peak Lookout Tower. It's time for a break and a chance to talk with Ranger Red who is the Lookout Tower Fire Spotter for the 2006 season. Red is spending the day cutting and clearing some new camp sites near the top of Aztec Peak and extends an open invitation to future campers. I may take him up on that offer, maybe as a combined mountain bike and camp adventure. My GPS indicates coordinates 33o 24.959'N, 110o 49.741'W and an elevation of 7,740 feet leading me to believe the 7,748 claim to be valid. We continue to linger soaking in the sights. The 360 degree view from the summit is nothing less than fantastic and you certainly get a bird's eye outlook...

The return loop follows FR487 down Aztec Peak. At mile 3.6 the road joins the Murphy Ranch cut-off near the Moody Point Trail 140. Near mile 5.4 you pass the Carr Trail Head marking a jumping off point for Parker Creek Trail 160 and Rim Trail 139. At mile 5.8 you pass the Abbey's Way 151 trail head. Retrace your steps back down FR487 from earlier in the day. At mile 7.1 you should find your vehicle close to the road closure barriers.

FR487 Gate
Typically closed December 1th thru April 1st. Check with Tonto FS if you are looking to skip the 1.3 miles of 487 each way.

I'm often asked my opinion on Edward Abbey. His mystique is comparable to Twain or Thoreau or Whitman. Many HAZ members have come to revere this desert anarchist... witness the many Abbey tagline quotes of wisdom closing a post. Enough said, but if you curious to find out more on Edward Abbey check out one of his books. We know he spent three summers atop Aztec Peak and they had a profound effect. Having spent a summer's day atop Aztec Peak, I now have the profound urge to read Desert Solitaire... Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2006-08-09 Randal_Schulhauser
    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 33 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    I headed out to the Ancha with @carriejane on Sunday. We hiked from the Reynolds Creek Trailhead to Aztec Peak and then back the way we came.

    Reynolds Creek Trail is a little rough in spots due to some downfall and a little erosion here and there, but it’s still a nice trail. There were a few patches of snow along the way and the trickling Reynolds Creek Falls were frozen over, however, it is evident that this has been a very dry winter up there. We had the peak to ourselves and enjoyed a long break on the summit.

    *I linked Aztec via Abby Way to get that peak credit, sorry not sorry...
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    Apples! and lots of them! I wasn't able to come out Friday and camp, which more than likely ended up being a good thing, but I came for a long day trip to the Anchas, my first time. My reward was a large brown paper bag of apples, but because I ate many, a stomach ache, too.

    The gate of FR 487 is wide open, and my guess is that this is normal, so I drove right past the loop description's TH, and found the extremely worn, and shot at sign for #151 and parked at the FS TH. Starting up, the orchard was easy to find, heading right in to it on the sort of trail. Delighted, I spent over an hour eating and picking apples. I shook trees, used a stick to knock apples down, and climbed up to get at them. They needed pruning and fertilizing, oh, for the last 50 years, but there are apples there, and a number of them are pretty good. Most of the nasty ones I knocked down seemed to be eaten by the elk around sunset. Cleaning crew!

    I took my big brown bag of apples back to my car, and because I do not have a GPS( I always borrow routes when I edit and post those) and I was unable to locate where an obvious trail exited the orchard, I opted to hike up 487 to the peak and descent 151. Aztec Peak was great, the Sierra Ancha are very nice, the views were really fun, but the descent down 151 was a big mistake, save perhaps for encountering a herd of elk with at least 2 males bugling, back at the orchard.

    Quite windy on Aztec, and it felt colder than the day before on Humphrey, but that was the wind, not the temperature. Looking east, it strikes me how relatively flat the land is until one gets to the higher terrain of Baldy. Lots of canyons, and rugged eroded land, but compared to the area from the Anchas west to the Mazatzals, the Bradshaws, and other ranges, this central and eastern part of the state is pretty flat. It's also mostly Apache Reservation; San Carlos and White Mountain.

    Looking back at logs from the last 2 years, it appears Randy and Jack didn't hike 151, and others like JJ found it in a far better condition than I did. Had I known, I would have stuck with the road. 151 probably should just be decommissioned, but I guess that isn't how things are. There isn't a big issue with large dead and down, but with lots of small dead NM Locust, and tons of rubus spp. grown over the trail, this ended up being an entirely unnecessary trip down a thorny slope navigating around, over, and under a tangle of thorns. Even when right on the old trail and going past cairns, in many cases. In spots, people have clearly hiked this, but in others it looked like a seldom used game trail or unvisited all together. After doing it once, I would just take 487 both ways, and skip that hellish thorn covered slope. I mean, the road is right there!

    Still a great area, and I wish I had come here sooner. Perhaps I will spend more time here next year, when things warm back up. Yesterday's wind and cold front has me thinking that I am getting less and less likely to be out visiting higher terrain for the season. This is related to schedules, too, and not just the weather. Still, fall goes fast, November is soon to be here, and the days are getting a lot shorter.

    If you love NM Locust, you'll love this hike, and they have some yellow in them.
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    Hiked up the Aztec Peak road to the base of the eastern cliffs, looking for alcoves or prehistoric sites, while following the base of the cliffs. Slow going in places with thick brush and slippery slopes. The cliffs directly below Aztec Peak are devoid of any prehistoric sites. Roamed around on the Peak for a bit in the howling winds before hiking back to my truck.
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    Aztec Peak via Parker Creek
    Met up with Kyle, Chumley & Claire for a nice hike in the Sierra Ancha. We left Tempe around 6:45am and made the drive to the Parker Creek TH & started hiking around 8:45. The Parker Creek Trail is in good condition & made for relatively fast trail as the trail climbs in elevation. We took a few breaks to admire the views & catch our breath. We continued on & took a snack break about two miles below the peak. From there we made the final climb & took a long lunch break on the summit. The summit had a lot of activity with at least one group car camping & several others making the drive up. After lunch we followed the road down & stopped to talk to a hunter & someone from the forest service. After that we connected back onto trail and bombed back to the trailhead. We had a light sprinkling of rain for the last mile or so & it was really enjoyable.

    Aztec Peak via Parker Canyon is a real nice hike. I really enjoyed climbing up into the forest and the cool mountain air. The views up top were nice & this would be a great spot for car camping.
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    Aztec Peak via Parker Creek
    I haven't done this hike in 5 years so I was happy to get back out there with Lily, 9L, Claire, and Chumley. Its uphill pretty much the entire way but I thought the grade was challenging yet pleasant. We never got caught in any rain even though we expected to and the temps couldn't have been more perfect.
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    Aztec Peak via Parker Creek
    Incredibly awesome weather for April 30. Highs on the peak barely hit 50. :y:

    The morning featured good breaks of sun, but by afternoon it was solidly cloudy with quite a few showers visible from the peak. This pushed our decision to skip the longer Rim trail loop and we only got sprinkled on a couple of times on the way down.

    Quite a bit of deadfall in the stretch of Abbey's above the ranch, but the last stretch to the peak was nicely cleared. A little poison ivy along Parker Creek kept those of us who are easily affected by this devil plant on our toes. Literally.

    Not sure why I'd never done this one before, but glad to knock it off the list. Thanks 9L for the idea, planning and driving. :)
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    Aztec peak via Parker Creek Trail
    Great hike for my first trip to the Sierra Anchas. We had plans of getting in a nice long day hike and then camping out, so we made the drive up tot he TH, and then carried on a bit further to look for a good camping spot. We checked out the Rose Creek campground, and there were about 20 cars so we looked elsewhere. We found a nice spot about a quarter mile up the road for the TH and got our tents set up to claim the spot. We got started hiking about 10, a bit later than hoped for but still not too bad. Parker Canyon had some nice tree cover and good scenery, although there were a few patches of poison ivy to work our way around. It is a good solid push up to about 7000' once you get up on the ridge. We took a snack break here, and then continued on to the Carr TH. from here, we walked the road north a bit to the Abbey's Way trail. This came with much anticipation, I have been an Abbey fan for quite a long time so it is nice to enjoy a little history. Trail 151 was about how I expected it: crooked, brush choked, and having some fantastic views at the end. Aztec Peak made the effort all worth it (never mind that you can drive up, that is cheating), the fire tower was closed, but I went up as high as I could for some photos and the view. We took a nice lunch break over at the Flintstone Furniture, this was a really nice touch and a great spot to eat lunch. We had plans of doing the loop with the Rim trail, but it was already 3:30 and I did not want to be hiking by headlamp and trying to avoid poison ivy and such. We decided to make a small loop with the forest road, hiked that around back to the Carr TH and then Parker Creek back to the truck. I will say as far as road walks go, this is about as good as it gets. As we were getting back close to the truck we came to the conclusion that we were going to skip the camp to sleep in our own beds, getting back early so I could watch the Cardinals game on Sunday was a plus too...We packed up our tents by the truck headlights and were on the road by 7:30. Once we got back in to Phoenix we crashed my friend's 40th birthday party for a celebratory beer with a couple pretty stinky guys. Got to see quite a bit of wildlife on this one, we saw 4 owls, a skunk, a deer, lots of squirrels, and at least 4 snakes on the road on the way out. Loved this trip, definitely on the return radar!

    A few spotty wildflowers, but not too much...
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    Parker - Abbey - Murphy - Rim Loop
    Ray had never been to the Sierra Ancha's and I had a hankerin' get back to the Parker Creek Canyon Trail #160 to see is we could scare up any color what-so-ever. I also wanted to check out the part of the Rim trail that I hadn't be on yet from the Murphy Ranch area.

    The climb up Parker is a steady 2000' climb in 3 miles to get to the saddle. You climb through Sycamores, then some conifers, Maples and Aspen. We were lucky enough to have some of the Fall Rainbow left to accent the climb up. I really love the feel of this trail, even without the added color.

    While on the Abby Way Trail #151 I wanted to check out the old Peterson Ranch area, to see what was left. There are some sizable flat open areas that appear to have supported the ranch, but nothing of substance was found. Like a couple of shrews, Joe and Ray followed me on the “shortcut” back to the Abby Way Trail (don’t take the shortcut)

    Making our way up to Aztek Peak, we paused to take in the Flintstone furniture (Note to self, bring cards next time).

    A short Road walk got us over the Old Murphy Ranch area. All was quiet at the ranch, but the aspens were in their richest golden form. We hopped on the Murphy Ranch Trail #141. This trail is slightly overgrown, but not bad at all. We took lunch on this trail and enjoyed the perfect temps and the vast views to the east.

    I always enjoy the Rim Trail #139 for the views, but it does seem to drag on and had some patches of ankle busters. One such ankle buster took me down for a few minutes, my ankle is still swollen today, but surprisingly, it does not hurt.

    The hike back down the Parker Creek Trail was just as enjoyable! We had absolutely perfect weather and surprising great color for this hike. Thanks for driving Ray, hope you enjoyed your first foray into the Sierra Ancha’s

    Video :next:
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    We parked at the Falls camp ground and hiked the Aztec Peak :next: Moody Point :next: Rim Trail :next: Parker Creek loop. The weather was perfect, the trails, although a little overgrown, were in good shape, and the views, well they were outstanding. Took a spill on the Rim Trail and lost one of my water bottles which I didn't realize till we were at the Carr TH. Hopefully it will still be there when we return.
    Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
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    My wife and I completed a portion of this hike. We started from about the midway point between the road closure barrier at FR487 near the Falls camp ground and the Petersen trail head. We didn’t take the Abbey Way trail at all. Rather we hiked the road up to the peak and came back down the same way.
    Ditto to what Grimey Said:
    “FR 487 is open all the way to the top of Aztec Peak. While it is arguably passable by passenger car, there are a few rough spots mainly near Workman Creek Falls where I would personally be very reluctant to drive a passenger car. FR 288 is paved to FR 487 except for a few sections of gravel.”
    We were in a mini-van and came to a spot below Workman Creek Falls that we felt a little uneasy about. So that’s where we parked (N33 49.197 W110 55.906). Total round trip hiking mileage according to my GPS was exactly 8 miles.
    Along the way, we noticed that there were several campsites occupied and we thought to ourselves this would be a great location return and camp sometime.
    The ranger was hospitable enough but I don’t think he was in the mood for guests when we arrived so we just moved on to the overlook as he suggested. The rock dining table, lounge chairs etc at the top were fun to use.
    I activated the summit for SOTA.
    The drive up from my home near Gilbert and Brown in Mesa was about 2.5 hours.
    Driving back, as always, we stopped at the Burger House in Miami, AZ for their green burro – best ever green burro, hands down!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix
    Take Hwy 60 (Superstition Freeway) east 75 miles to Globe/Miami. Turn left (northwest) onto Hwy 188 (GPS coordinates 33o 24.959'N, 110o 49.741'W) and drive 14 1/2 miles to intersection with Hwy 288 (GPS coordinates 33o 33.920'N, 110o 57.210'W). Take Hwy 288 towards Young. In about 4 1/2 miles you will cross the Salt River Bridge (GPS coordinates 33o 37.155'N, 110o 55.310'W). Pass by FR203, also known as Cherry Creek Road (GPS coordinates 33o 38.582'N, 110o 57.104'W) another 2 1/2 miles further up the road. Follow Hwy 288 past the Parker Creek Trail #160 southern trailhead (GPS coordinates 33o 47.795'N, 110o 58.154'W) near the paved/gravel road transition. Hwy 288 will soon gain considerable elevation through a series of switchbacks. Continue a total of 25 1/4 miles on Hwy 288 from the Hwy 188 intersection until you reach FR487 at GPS coordinates 33o 50.794'N, 110o 58.121'W near mile marker 284. Travel east on FR487 roughly parallel to Workman Creek passing the designated camp grounds "Creek Side", "Cascade", and "Falls" in sequence. At the time of this writing, FR487 is blocked near the Falls camp ground, about 2 1/2 miles from Hwy 288. There is parking for several vehicles along FR487 near this temporary trailhead.

    My GPS noted 125 miles traveled from my home in Ahwatukee to the FR487 trail head parking. Travel time was just over 3 hours including a couple of short stops for photos. GPS coordinates for the trailhead are 33o 49.439'N, 110o 56.308'W
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