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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Brown's Peak Loop via Alder Saddle, AZ

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83 11 1
Guide 11 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
Rated
4.7
4.7 of 5 by 3
 
2
Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,700 feet
Elevation Gain 2,283 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,801 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6-9 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.01
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
25  2014-06-30
Four Peaks Mother Lode
friendofThunderg
13  2012-04-28 Tough_Boots
13  2010-06-19 Tough_Boots
4  2008-04-08 erikshinn
13  2008-03-01 Hansenaz
30  2006-12-13 PrestonSands
10  2006-12-13 joebartels
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Co-Author joebartels
co-author avatarGuides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,259 map (21,438 Miles)
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   May, Sep, Jun, Oct → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
 
2 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Up & Over on the Loop of Views
by PrestonSands & joebartels

Likely In-Season!
This loop is a combination of trails and bushwhacking that climbs up and over the highest of the Four Peaks: Brown's Peak. I seriously recommend doing this hike after having completed the Brown's Peak hike first. Otherwise you may find it difficult to find the return route down the west chute. In addition, the nearly vertical terrain of the chute will be more comfortable with experience. I also recommend doing the loop clockwise, as it will be easier to climb up the east side of Brown's Peak than down. Also, be advised that the chute on the northwest side of Brown's Peak that this hike uses could be very dangerous if there is snow or ice present. If you don't have a fear of heights, this is an incredible hike with outstanding views!


Beginning at Lone Pine Trailhead, begin following the Four Peaks Trail #130 east, through surviving remnants of ponderosa forest. The Four Peaks Trail gently contours along the northern slope of Four Peaks, and passes the Amethyst Trail junction at the one mile mark. The trail passes the turnoff for the Pigeon Trail at the bottom of a little ravine, and joins the route of the Arizona Trail. Just around the corner are some tall ponderosas, and Shake Spring. A quarter mile later, the Four Peaks Trail turns south at the junction with the Oak Flat Trail, and begins a steady half mile ascent of a drainage. At the top of the drainage, the trail passes through a little saddle, and then begins a mile long traverse of the steep eastern side of Four Peaks. Along this stretch, there are spectacular views of Roosevelt Lake and the desert below. Where the trail clings to a north facing slope, a few maple trees and a scattering of tall douglas firs are encountered. Granite rock gives way to the ancient Mazatzal Quartzite as the trail clings precariously to the mountainside near the head of Baldy Canyon. This colorful rock that forms the Four Peaks themselves is so hard and dense that it gives a metallic sound when pieces clang together under your boots.

Where the Four Peaks Trail crosses a little wash, it meets up with the Alder Saddle Trail #81. Leave the easily followed Four Peaks Trail, and follow the Alder Saddle Trail up the little ravine to the south. After a short distance, the trail disappears amidst ever thickening brush. It is only a short climb to Alder Saddle at the top of the ravine, so show the brush who's the boss and plow through it. Switchbacks do exist, however more defined trails-of-use may confuse the matter. Once at Alder Saddle, incredible views are laid out before you. We were able to see Horse Mesa, Miner's Needle, Weaver's Needle, and the 5057' peak in the Superstitions. The most fabulous view is a short albeit painful jaunt over to peak 6447 as all four of the Four Peaks tower above in a majestic front row cathedral style view!

From here, basically follow the county line up to the top of Brown's Peak ridge (look at Joe's gps route). If you stay slightly to the south of the ridgeline during the 1000 foot vertical climb from Alder Saddle, you will avoid the worst of the brush. The higher you climb up the mountainside, the steeper it gets, and the better the views. We didn't encounter any cliffs while climbing up the outcrops of orange, white and purplish rock on our push to the top, but there are some areas that you will need to use your hands to pull yourself up. Once at the top of the ridge, the terrain eases up a bit, and views to the north resume. Just follow the jagged ridgeline uphill to the west. A few rippled rocks can be seen; evidence of an ancient ocean. When you are at the highest point on the ridge, you have arrived at the top of Brown's Peak. Many distant mountains can be seen from up here: Humphrey's Peak, the Bradshaw, Pinaleno, and Santa Catalina Mountains, and of course surrounding areas nearby.

After you have taken in the incredible views and names carved in the rock, head as far west as you can on the summit, and look for the trail heading down to the top of the chute. (see the Brown's Peak hike for more information) Once you have completed the white-knuckle descent of the chute to Brown's Saddle, head north on the Amethyst Trail as it heads downhill. A short distance later, you will come to the junction with the Brown's Trail #133. Go straight; now you are on the Brown's Trail. Continue another mile and a half or so down the relaxing Brown's Trail through a nice patch of ponderosa pine forest, as it descends a ridge back to Lone Pine Trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2006-12-17 PrestonSands & joebartels
  • description related image
    guide related
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
Brown's Peak Loop via Alder Saddle
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
We attempted this route about two years ago and, due to my extreme lack of experience at the time, failed miserably. Luckily, Rachel can't back down from a challenge so I got her to try again. This time we were determined not to fail.

The Alder Saddle Trail (or what's left of it) is nothing like we remembered. There were sections to bushwack through to get to the top of the saddle but I've definitely done worse. We also kept re-finding the trail pretty easily-- no route finding issues like last time.

From the saddle to the summit is a whole different story. We took the advice from Preston's description and stayed a bit low on the south side of the saddle to avoid the thicker brush. The terrain begged for us to stay south instead of heading back up high and attacking the ridge directly from the east side and that turned out to be a bit of a mistake. From a distance, it appeared that we'd be able to make our final ascent from a bit southeast of the summit. As we got close, we found out that it was not going to be possible. We backtracked a bit northeast until I could find a spot we could summit from. Fortunately after some bushwacking, I found a spot we could climb up. It was a bit sketchy but I felt like it was pretty do-able. Rachel's opinion was something similar to "this is really stupid and dangerous but what choice do we have?" :sl:

Soooo.... we made the summit and it was worth all the effort. We met a few other hikers at the top and ate some lunch. We eventually made our way down the chute and headed back to the trailhead. It's been quite a while since I'd been up Browns and had forgotten how treacherous that chute actually is. It gave us a little added adventure on the way down.

After finally accomplishing this, I'm kind of surprised that more HAZ folks haven't done it.
Brown's Peak Loop via Alder Saddle
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Get ready for a laugh cuz this whole day was a total mess and we got beat by Alder Saddle big time. If you want a full belly laugh, I'll let you take a look at my GPS data.

It started off rough just getting to the TH. My ruck overheated about 3/4 of the way up El Oso and I had to pull over for about 45 minutes to let it cool down. Luckily it restarted fine and didn't seem to have any troubles the rest of the way. We wanted to do Brown's Peak and I'd never gone up Alder Saddle before so I figured a little bushwacking adventure would be a good time. The Four Peaks trail was beautiful as always-- really nice views of Roosevelt Lake and a good breeze most of the way.

We made it to Alder Saddle Trail and it became a bushwack within probably 100 feet. That trail is completely overgrown off and on for about a third of it. I'm not talking about short brush but over your head overgrown. You can barely make out the trail coming from the Four Peaks trail direction but coming back from the other way, its almost impossible to find in places. At times, it does open up nicely for short stretches, though. I would imagine that if there's not some maintenance done on this trail by the end of summer, Tonto is allowing it to be reclaimed by nature and taking it off the maps. The trail is completely gone way before HAZ's trip description describes.

Once the trail ends, it becomes less of a bushwack and more of a bulldoze. Seven foot tall brush and thick as can be-- my arms are completely cut up for proof. We tried a whole array of routes and after being stuck in cages of brush and falling through countless rotten logs and spider nests, Nothing was getting done and it seemed as if we were getting nowhere (probably because we weren't). In hindsight, I have a couple ideas but that didn't help me yesterday. We were beat and amongst our laughter finally admitted defeat. It was fun, though. We made our way back to the trail which was no easy task either and eventually after losing the Alder trail off and on, got back to the Four Peaks trail.

Planning this trip, I new that Four Peaks trail was an easy way in and then getting up Alder Saddle to Brown's Peak and over would be a major grunt. I also planned for getting back to the TH from the other side of Brown's being an easy downhill end to a tough trail. Well, we didn't make it that far and coming back on the Four Peaks trail was brutal at times especially following our bushwack and bulldozing mess. We finally got back to the TH and couldn't be happier to be there. Though we only did 9.5 miles total, it turned out to be one of my rougher hiking experiences and my arms are a cut up and stinging mess.

My lesson for this hike: when doing a bushwack and the most recent triplogs for that hike are over two years old-- be ready for anything!
Brown's Peak Loop via Alder Saddle
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
A great route-finding and peak bagging adventure with Joe. Saw some maples and douglas firs along the Four Peaks Trail, then came a face full of brush and cursing on the ascent of the Alder Saddle "Trail" :lol: The east face of Brown's was steep but do-able, with 180 degree views above Alder Saddle. Perfect weather, wasn't even cold on top (50 degrees in the sun). I could have stayed on top all day. Descended the peak via the chute and Brown's Trail. Got to see Woodstock Rock. This is now one of my most favorite hikes :D
Brown's Peak Loop via Alder Saddle
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Simply fabulous! The views keep changing with every turn. This is the ultimate loop for the upper wilderness. I tried this loop counter clockwise around 1999 and failed. Thanks to Preston for suggesting clockwise :wink:

The trail becomes un-maintained on the Alder Trail. We missed a switchback just before Alder Saddle and paid dearly surfing chaparral. It all worked out as the views away from the saddle are among the best for the area with the mass of the four peaks shrining above. Albeit hot, glad I wore pants :o

Permit $$
None


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

To Lone Pine Trailhead
From Scottsdale follow Shea Blvd East to its terminus at SR87. Turn Left onto SR87. Follow SR87(this is the Beeline) to the Four Peaks Turnoff which is FR143. FR143 is well marked. Follow FR143 for about 19 miles of sheer hell in a car to the Mazatzal Divide. Turn right here onto FR648 and follow about 2 miles to the trailhead.

From Mesa by CannondaleKid ( 2018-07-20 )
From Red Mountain 202 & AZ 87/Country Club Dr
5.0 miles = AZ 87/Gilbert Road intersection
11.7 miles = AZ 87/Shea Boulevard intersection
13.7 miles = AZ 87/Fort McDowell (Casino) Road intersection
21.9 miles = AZ 87/Bush Highway overpass
26.7 miles = AZ 87/Four Peaks Road (FR 143) Turn RIGHT

From AZ 87/Beeline Highway & FR 143/Four Peaks Rd
0.81 miles = Four Peaks Recreational Parking Lot Continue straight
1.43 miles = Secondary Recreational Parking Lot Continue straight
2.08 miles = Recreational Parking Lot at Forest Road 401 Bear LEFT
3.38 miles = Forest Road 11 (Great Western Trail) 90-degree RIGHT turn
4.05 miles = Forest Road 1521 90-degree curve LEFT
10.87 miles = Forest Road 143A (Cline TH) Sharp 160-degree RIGHT turn
14.98 miles = Mud Spring TH Bear LEFT and continue
17.75 miles = Cattle Guard/Forest Road 648 Sharp 180-degree RIGHT turn
19.10 miles = Lone Pine Trailhead End of FR 648

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 60.6 mi - about 2 hours 2 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 159 mi - about 3 hours 21 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 161 mi - about 3 hours 15 mins
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