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Waterman Peak - 3 members in 5 triplogs have rated this an average 3.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Feb 03 2022
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 Routes 2
 Photos 453
 Triplogs 36

female
 Joined Apr 27 2015
 cave creek, az
Waterman PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 03 2022
thirstylizard
Hiking2.10 Miles 1,124 AEG
Hiking2.10 Miles   2 Hrs   22 Mns   1.06 mph
1,124 ft AEG      23 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
The Ironwood Forest National Monument is a Sonoran Desert Wonderland. The Waterman Mountain Range has plenty to offer. While I have visited the area a number of times, I had not hiked the trail to the peak until today.

I hiked from the second parking area off Johnson Mine Road. The trail is easy to follow to the first saddle where you see some nice views. Turn right from here and follow the faint use trail the rest of the way. Occasional cairns appear along the route.

For those not wishing the scramble to the top, the Leonberger Memorial is a good place to turnaround.

No need to rush as the hike isn’t long. Plenty of opportunity to take in the basin and range views and admire the impressive geology, botany and wildlife. I enjoyed perfect weather of high 40 degrees and full sun, no wind. As noted, there is full sun exposure on this hike and very little shade from the Palo Verde trees along the route. If you take a look around, you may find an endangered Nichols Turk’s Head cactus. Both the cactus and its variety namesake are worth the extra effort of the Google rabbit hole.

https://ironwoodforest.org/about/the-mo ... ead-cactus
http://cactusandsucculentsociety.org/cs ... ichol2.pdf


No bighorn sheep sighting today but if you keep your eyes open you will see the AZGFD water catchment at a lower elevation placement as you head to the summit.

If you want to spend a little more time in the area, stop at the Titan Missile Interpretive Site off Johnson Mine Road and take a look at the “Shiva” cactus along Avra Valley Road (South side of road).

https://ironwoodforest.org/monument-news/titan
https://www.abc15.com/news/region-centr ... amed-shiva
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4 archives
Dec 20 2021
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 Guides 70
 Routes 651
 Photos 10,775
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male
 Joined Jan 07 2017
 Fountain Hills,
Waterman PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 20 2021
DixieFlyer
Hiking2.09 Miles 1,190 AEG
Hiking2.09 Miles   2 Hrs   17 Mns   1.31 mph
1,190 ft AEG      41 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
I decided to do this hike to hit the highpoint of the Waterman Mountains.

There is a decent use trail all the way up, and I was happy to follow the trail and avoid any bushwhacking.

The trail was steep and a bit slippery in places, and I doubt if I went much faster going down than I did going up.

On the way up I stopped off at the Leonberger Memorial, which is at a saddle not too far from the summit.

There was a bit of class 2 climbing to get up the last 50 feet or so to the summit, which is kind of a fin along a short ridge.

I thought that the views at the summit were great, and I hung around up there for 30 minutes or so.

There is lots of sun exposure, and I would not want to do this hike in hot weather.

I thought that this one was an enjoyable little hike, and I might do it again sometime.
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Edward Abbey
1 archive
Dec 29 2020
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 Routes 1
 Triplogs 1

male
 Joined Dec 23 2020
 Marana AZ
Waterman PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 29 2020
jcthomas
Hiking2.10 Miles 1,240 AEG
Hiking2.10 Miles
1,240 ft AEG
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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I am posting this alternative route to Waterman Peak.

I have been up as far as the Silver Hill Mine with hiking buddies a couple of times previously, in the past summer, and we saw big horn sheep not far from the water catchment both times.

There is an area along the mine road with a few of the endangered Nichols Turk’s Head cactus.

To get to where we parked, go west on Avra Valley Road from I-10 about 18.8 miles and turn left on Waterman Mountain Road. Go about 2.8 miles and park near where the old mine road up to the Silver Hill Mine is blocked off. You will want a high clearance vehicle to get back there as the road gets pretty rough at times (I had the 4WD engaged on my F150 but did not think I really required it, but I like to have 4WD already engaged in case I encounter an obstacle! Besides, when else would I use it?)

The mine road is blocked, I figure, to protect the big horn sheep and because the road has not been maintained and is too rough to get a vehicle up there.

The hike up the mine road is very rocky and gets steep at times. The mine road passes the water catchment and there was water in the tank, but it seemed (by tapping on it) that the tank was less than 25% full. It has been a very dry summer! I have read that the AZGFD has used a helicopter to replenish the tank.

Just prior to getting to the mine site, we started bushwacking up the slope figuring to intersect the tracks to Waterman Peak posted by others (thank you for that!). We made our way through a good sized teddy bear cholla forest on the slope, but it was not thick enough to present much of a problem hiking. We kept going on this tack until we saw the Leonberger Memorial, but decided to head up to the summit first.

On the to the summit we found a bit of a trail as the terrain funnels hikers to the way up. From the top, we had great views all around, the Silver Bell Mine, Ragged Top (we think), the water catchment, and looked down into the Pioneer Waterman Pit Mine where they were working.

On the way down, we went over to visit the memorial. Going down from the memorial, we saw a couple of other hikers going up to the peak, we presumed, from the Johnson Road route. Once pass the teddy bear cholla forest, we joined what looked like an older and less used mine road up higher then the main road. We followed this down to the mine road, and retraced our hike back to the truck.

We did not see any big horn sheep this time. My theory is that, with the cooler weather, the sheep range farther away from the water catchment. In the hot summer, they stay nearer.

It was a great hike, not long nor extremely challenging but fun with great views along the way and at the summit! We will probably be back sometime because it is cool to see the big horn sheep!
Jan 26 2020
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 Guides 1
 Routes 12
 Photos 17
 Triplogs 79

32 male
 Joined Oct 05 2017
 Tucson, AZ
Waterman PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 26 2020
jladderud
Hiking3.40 Miles 1,540 AEG
Hiking3.40 Miles   2 Hrs   53 Mns   1.39 mph
1,540 ft AEG      26 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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A very straightforward, yet pleasant hike up to the summit. I made it spicier by following the ridge east from the first saddle to point 3243. The ridge proper had some 3rd class, and gaining the summit of 3243 from the west was 4th class (but the east side may be gentler). I was hoping to see some bighorns; but all I saw was scat.
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Oct 21 2019
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 Guides 1
 Routes 1
 Photos 19
 Triplogs 4

male
 Joined Dec 12 2018
 
Waterman PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 21 2019
Marana_hiker
Hiking2.15 Miles 1,249 AEG
Hiking2.15 Miles   3 Hrs   5 Mns   1.00 mph
1,249 ft AEG      56 Mns Break14 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Directions:
From I-10, take the Avra Valley Rd exit and head west. It's a pretty drive in the early morning with views of all the southern Arizona mountain ranges. At approximately 20 miles (20.3 on my odometer) turn left on the unmarked road which becomes Johnstone Mine Road. The road is paved but the first 50' or so may appear to be gravel due to the mining vehicles using the road. Shortly you will pass a "Titan 2 Interpretive Site" sign. You will pass a "drive through" loop parking lot on the left at about 1.3 miles from the turnoff but you want the second pull-in lot 1.5 miles from the Avra Valley Rd turnoff. The road is still paved to this point. If you hit gravel or dirt (there was a mine truck spraying water just past the turnoff) you probably have gone too far.

Hike:
The trail head begins on an old rocky road with a "No Motorized Vehicles" sign. This quickly turns into a very rocky 5-8' wide pathway with a moderate ascent. The "road" crosses a small gully and leads to a saddle at about .5 miles. There is a fairly recognizable trail from the saddle heading generally up and WSW on a ridge. As you ascend you will see a large outcropping. You can't see the peak until later in the climb. Pass right of the outcropping and continue upwards. At this point, I came across numerous faint trails but these trails had few switchbacks and one route was generally as good as another. There is little vegetation or slope variance so choosing a way up is really not critical.

Without seeing the peak itself, I veered a bit more WNW as I wanted to visit the memorial to Loren Leonberger, a helicopter pilot who died attempting to land at a mining site in January 2011. Wherever you happen to ascend on the east side of Waterman Peak you should be able to see the white cross off to the north. There is a white cross, plaque, and a pair of boots hanging from the cross.

Waterman Peak was now visible and I ascended it from the northern side since that is where I was coming from. The last 50' of elevation requires a bit of scrambling to reach the summit but the footing is good on stable rock and it is not difficult. (When choosing a descent path, the eastern side looked shallower but since I couldn't see the entire route I elected to descend off the peak the way I came.)

The summit is narrow and consists of 3 humps, with a very inconveniently-placed palo verde growing between two of them. My GPS showed the middle hump to be 2' higher than the westernmost, but who knows. The GPS indicated 3834' but Gaia, Avenza and Route Scout all recorded an altitude of less than 3800'. The views of all the southern Arizona mountain ranges are great, as are views of the Silver Bell Mine to the north and the Waterman mine almost directly below the summit on the west side. (A quarry driver I stopped and talked to on Johnstone Rd said this mine, which he called Waterman, is a rock quarry which produces everything from pea gravel to large boulders.) I did not find a logbook at the summit.

My ascent took about 1+25 which included the stop at the memorial, and the descent took just about an hour. I was doing this with a mildly fractured big toe (not hiking related) so this trail shouldn't be particularly difficult for hikers who have any experience hiking off-trail or on non-NP/Forest Service trails. I didn't try to follow trails on the descent until reaching the old roadbed but found that my route was almost identical to the ascent except for the detour to the memorial.

Trail Conditions:
Some rocks on the trail are extremely sharp. I do a lot of bushwhacking in the Tortolitas. Some of the granite on those peaks can shred clothing if you aren't careful (bushwhacking only, not on the established trails), but it is not nearly as sharp as some of the igneous rocks here. Most of the rocks are not sharp, but some are. I used leather gloves on the final ascent. The rocks here didn't appear to be as sharp but I didn't want to find out. There is some scree along portions of the trail but in most places there are rocks firmly in place to prevent this from becoming an issue. I found my trekking pole useful but not necessary. Any path you choose will be open and you will only have to dodge the ocotillos and occasional cactus.
Wildlife:
On the descent, I almost became very close friends with a rattlesnake coiled in a shadow on an animal trail, so always watch where you are stepping and placing your hands. I saw several deer near the trail head but didn't spot any of the bighorn sheep.

Other:
One environmental note: this route is fully exposed to the sun from sunrise until at least mid-afternoon. There are only a couple of outcroppings which could provide a small amount of shade. Water, sunblock and early starts are highly recommended.

Final Thoughts:
I see Waterman Peak on the horizon every day from my home, so I am glad to have made the ascent. The hike itself is open rock from the end of the old road to the summit, with not a lot of variation. Nevertheless this is an interesting hike with the Leonberger memorial and the great unobstructed views of the Southern Arizona mountain ranges and mines.

Titan 2 Interpretive Site
Shortly after turning onto Johnstone Mine Rd there is a sign for the "Titan 2 Interpretive Site". A gravel road leads off to the right to the site of deactivated a Titan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) site. There are some interpretive signs talking about the site's history. All that remains are some concrete pads used in the complex. The actual missile silo was destroyed per treaty. The silo site looks like the rest of the desert. It's about a 10 minute diversion and provides an interesting insight into a part of southern Arizona's history that many are probably not aware of.

Coordinates:
Trail Head Parking Lot:
32.3580, -111.4706

Road Saddle:
32.35305, -111.46845

Leonberger Memorial:
32.35116, -111.47230

Waterman Peak:
32.34962, -111.47336
2 archives
average hiking speed 1.19 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.

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