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Picture Mountain, AZ

Guide 9 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  3.6 of 5 
no permit
1 Active
133 9 1
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,750 feet
Elevation Gain 700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins & Peak
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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4  2020-05-08 jtaylor
14  2016-10-15
Sierra Ancha Peak Trifecta
10  2016-03-05
Picture - Bear Head - Copper Mountain
8  2016-03-05
Picture - Bear Head - Copper Mountain
44  2016-02-27
Picture Mountain and Picture
17  2012-10-06 CannondaleKid
8  2009-11-24 PrestonSands
28  2007-02-10 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,615
Trips 1,492 map ( 7,560 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  5:13am - 7:38pm
Official Route
3 Alternative

Picture perfect
by PrestonSands

Dominating the skyline east of Tonto Basin is 6451 foot Picture Mountain, so named for the rock slides on its face that resemble a horseback rider with weapon raised, riding towards some sort of animal. Picture Mountain forms the southern corner of a forested plateau in the northern Sierra Anchas where Pleasant Valley War participant Jake Lauffer, and later legendary cattleman George Cline once ran cattle. Evidence of the 2003 Picture Fire is minimal in this area, and is mostly manifested on the face of Picture Mountain, which is recovering nicely. Traveling the precipitous, rocky road up to where the trail starts is an adventure in itself! Usually the road is high clearance, bordering on 4x4. Please see my gps map.

Beginning at a large pull off area on the south side of forest road 609, start following an old unmarked jeep trail as it heads southeast into the forest. This is actually forest road 875, which is not really a road at all anymore. (seriously, don't try to drive this-you'll see why later!) At the 0.15 mile point, the old road forks. Turn right here, onto the west fork (gps coordinates: 33.94382 N 111.16332 W). The old road/trail turns south here, and continues its gentle climb up through the scrub oak and ponderosas. The trail soon begins a steep climb straight up the northern slope of Picture Mountain. As you ascend higher, the Sierra Anchas, Mazatzals, and the Mogollon Rim rise up behind you over the tree tops.

Soon you will reach the top of the ridge that forms the spine of Picture Mountain, and enter a low and open forest of pinyon, oak and juniper. This stretch is relatively level, and views to the north and east abound. In the distance is Pleasant Valley where Young is located, beneath the Naegelin Rim. After 1.1 miles, the jeep trail comes to a little rocky clearing, and starts to descend to the left. Leave the old jeep trail behind here (gps coordinates: 33.93180 N 111.16315 W), and keep heading uphill on the ridge. The ridge begins to narrow as it nears the top of the mountain, and magnificent views to the west open up over Picture Mountain's craggy western face. Fourteen hundred feet below is the twisting brown 609 road, with Tonto Basin and the rugged Mazatzals forming the backdrop. Just before the ridge starts to descend, you will come to the apex of Picture Mountain. If you look carefully, you will discover the metal survey and triangulation station caps set into the mountain top's orange Precambrian quartzite. If you continue south down the southern slope of the mountain for a few hundred feet, you will arrive at a rocky shelf: a perfect place to sit, rest, and take in the limitless panorama to the south. Return the way you came.

Back at the trailhead, a 0.75 mile round trip hike to the west down the 609 road will bring you to the ruins of a Salado or Anchan dwelling next to the south side of the road. The walls have collapsed into piles of rocks in this approximately 100 foot by 300 foot ruin, but it is still worth checking out before heading home. Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2007-02-14 PrestonSands
    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    Preston's disclaimer: If Tonto Creek is in flood stage, you will not have access to the road up to the trailhead. For crossing info after periods of wet weather, call the Gila County Sherriff's Office at (928)474-2208.

    From Payson, head south about 15 miles to the AZ highway 188 junction, and turn left. Follow highway 188 for about 13.3 miles, then turn left (this is the Punkin Center Business District road; there is a green ADOT sign marking this junction). Follow the Punkin Center Business District road south for about 0.3 miles, then turn left onto Greenback Valley Road (just past the Punkin Center Bar). Follow Greenback Valley Road (forest road 71)for 6.1 miles to the junction with forest road 609. Turn left onto forest road 609 and follow it for 5.46 miles to the unmarked trailhead on the right. The trailhead's gps coordinates are: 33.94488 N 111.16533 W. This point is a couple of hundred feet before the 609 road makes a hairpin turn to cross a wash. Park in the clearing on the right (south) side of the road, and begin following the old jeep trail into the trees.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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