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Mazatzal Peak Summit
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mini location map2020-12-21
14 by photographer avatarLJW
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Mazatzal Peak SummitPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking17.29 Miles 4,586 AEG
Hiking17.29 Miles   8 Hrs      2.38 mph
4,586 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
Partners none no partners
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout | Pop | Map | Popup | MapDEX
Have made a habit of heading into the Mazatzals for my last hike of the year. Dreamed this one up during the summer and saved it for to finish off 2020. Started at Barnhardt around 8am and took the loop clockwise.

If I've ever driven to Barnhardt when the road was in poorer condition, I can't remember it. Took Y Bar to the first ridge, and it looked clear enough, so I went up. It was a little rough in spots, but there was enough clear ground to gain between the bushwhacking to hold my optimism. It's real steep and climbs a while before reaching Suicide Ridge. Once on the end of the ridge, the views open way up.

The hardest part of the hike was getting up to Suicide Ridge. Once past 6958 the terrain opens up. Only got caught in two sections of manzanita and brush. The views are huge in every direction and similar to the summit proper. Compared to taking the N drainage up, it is impossible to forget just how big the mountain is. It's a fantastic ridge walk with more and more pines as the summit nears. I was glad that I didn't take this route my first time, as the views from Suicide Ridge are so good they surely diminish the wow factor of approaching from the north where the expanse really only opens up at the summit.

Shortest way to the summit and was on top in three hours. Good day for visibility. You can see it all up there. Felt warm nearly the whole way up, but on the summit it was windy and cold. Had a look over the way I came, the way I was going, took some pictures, and after a short while headed down.

The summit is a reminder that the world is beautiful and wide; the descent to Y Bar offers no such reassurance. Fourth time heading down that way, and I had the easiest time yet finding the route. Less of a bushwhack than on previous trips, but it's always slow going. I will never attempt a summit from that side. Took me well over an hour to get down.

Rest of the loop was on trail and easy going. Headed west to the Divide Trail and then toward Barnhardt. Always enjoy the expanse out toward the Western Mazatzals and Horseshoe Lake. The views toward the summit aren't bad either. Doesn't take long to descend between the trails on MDT. It was the warmest part of the day.

Barnhardt back down. Great place to be when the sun is setting. Cold in the canyon. Last of fall color at the bottom. Got back to the trailhead and there were several cars there, but I didn't see anyone on the hike.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
Creek bed in Barnhardt Canyon finishing up

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