I've always wondered about the Sugarloaf exit across from the 4-peaks exit. This was one area that I've never explored.
This was my first time using the HAZ route manager to create a route. I plotted a path from the bee-line to the Verde river. It used ATV trails 420, 1855, 1856 1096 and finally 160. I noticed that the route made a U around a canyon and a wash. I zoomed in and made a 'shortcut' route through the canyon and wash.
Now the hike. There's an extra big trail head for ATV staging. Within 1 mile from the TH, there was three camps of people target shooting. The route curved around Sugarloaf mountain and dropped into the Sycamore creek. There was a couple of people camping down here. I checked out the gauging station and noticed a couple of motorcycles going down the 'shortcut" route. I continued on the main route and went around the Sheep Mesa to Lonely mountain. Then the trail got rough and nasty in some spots. Soon I was on ridge line looking West to the Verde. One the more distinct landmarks was Dynamite Road going into the Verde. That was the end of the road. I got to the Verde and found another road that lead to the Needle Rock area. There's a lot of cattle paths in the area. I went between the cattle paths and road over to the Needle rock area and had lunch there.
I headed back and found another path to the a rock beach area by the Verde. Now it was a long slow climb out the Verde to Sugarloaf area. I contemplated taking the 'shortcut' route back. It was pitch black when I hit the intersection. The shortcut was a well-defined motorcycle path. I broke two of my nigh hiking rules:
-don't night hike on a trail you don't know
-don't night hike with water or water crossings
I gambled that if the motorcycles can do this shortcut, I can do it in the dark.
The motocross section started out with narrow trail/trench that went up and down / up and down very steep grades. Eventually it gave away to a hard pack wash that lead to the canyon with the Sycamore creek. The creek was dry at the first, but the water appear shortly and got deeper. I hit a choke point where I had to scrambles over a couple of boulders. The canyon's not that long and I made it to the Sheep camp without getting wet. The rest of the hike was just climbing out to the trail head.
It was a long, but fun hike. There's a lot more to explore in the area. I'll be back.
Pictures and routes will follow.
"Everywhere is walking distance...If you have the time"
Lone Mountain was another peak I'd seen on a number of occasions and after my Sheep Mesa hike it seemed like the thing to do. I parked in the widest spot along FR1096 just adjacent to the peak and set off uphill. Boy was this one steep... 480 feet in elevation gain in less than .3 mile... my Achilles were begging for mercy well before the top.
I didn't follow the most direct route up because it looked too steep, meandering to the left a bit until the rocky area near the end when I headed straight for the summit. On the way down I figured I'd take the most direct route, which worked out pretty well.
No summit log and I didn't have another one to leave so I guess I'll be back soon.
Photos coming soon.
average hiking speed 2 mph
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.