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Brown's Peak Loop via Alder Saddle, AZ

Guide 11 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
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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
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 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,617
Trips 1,516 map ( 7,711 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Co-Author joebartels
co-author avatarGuides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,083
Trips 4,884 map (24,930 Miles)
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Sep, Jun, Oct → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:34am - 7:29pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 Three 200550.4 mi*
🔥 2020 Bush Fire193.5k
🔥 2014 Browns Fire6.6 mi*
🔥 2005 Three Fire15.4k
🔥 2005 Edge Complex Fire72.3k
🔥 2004 Fox8.7 mi*
🔥 1996 Lone Fire65.1k
🔥 1970 Soldier Fire13.9 mi*
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Warning the 2020 Bush Fire damaged most of the Four Peak Wilderness after almost recovering from the 1996 Lone Pine Fire.
Up & Over on the Loop of Views
by PrestonSands & joebartels

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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 challenging 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 hazardous if snow or ice is 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 #253 junction at the one-mile mark. The trail passes the turnoff for the Pigeon Trail #134 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 #123 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 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 Brown's Trail #133. Go straight; now you are on 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.

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
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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.

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Map Drive
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
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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