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Picketpost Mountain - Tonto National Forest

Summary: A short, steep hike to the summit of Picketpost Mountain near Superior, AZ.
Directions: From Phoenix, drive east on route 60 towards the small town of Superior. Drive 0.5 miles past mile marker 221 and turn right (south) on Forest Road (FR) #231 (look for the aluminum windmill to the south). Drive 0.4 miles to a signed junction with FR #310. Turn left, remaining on FR #231, and drive 0.6 miles to the huge Picketpost parking area, complete with bathrooms and hitching posts.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Moderate (multiple branching routes)
Length: ~4 miles
Date Hiked: December 2004
Weather Conditions: Sunny and breezy
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the parking lot, pick up the Arizona Trail which begins just behind the large gate and sign for (what else?) the AZ Trail. Walk 5-10 minutes along this dirt road, following a shallow wash to your left. Just after you pass a prominent drainage which starts at the top of Picketpost Mountain (which if you haven't guessed already, is the large rock to your left) and ends in the dry wash you are paralleling, look for a cairned path which branches left (UTM 483722mE, 3680869mN). Turn left, crossing the wash and pick up another jeep road which heads up the foothills of the mountain. After walking another 10 minutes, the road ends at an old mine and you'll see a heavily damaged sign (the result of bullet holes ... of course) which indicates the start of the Picketpost Trail. The trail heads more steeply towards the mountain through typical Sonoran desert vegetation consisting of: prickly pear, saguaro, jojoba, cholla, ocotillo, agave, palo verde, brittlebush, barrel cactus and mormon tea. As you continue to climb steeply toward the mountain the trail fades. In places you'll find that some well intentioned nitwit (the worst kind) has tagged the rocks with spray paint at frequent intervals. You can follow the markings or simply choose the path of least resistance. Your goal is the prominent cleft in the ridge above. You might find a cairned route splitting right into a dry wash. Both routes wind up at the same place, I like the cairned route though since you don't have to bear witness to as much unsightly vandalism. The two paths eventually join at the cleft then climb right up it a short distance, before bending left out of the wash to complete the climb to the rim. Once on the rim, the path climbs at a noticeably less aggressive grade to the summit with mailbox and register. Enjoy the view, and when ready, return the way you came.
Rating (1-5 stars):
I'm usually not a big fan of these short, peak bagging type hikes; especially when located close to population centers. But as far as these types of hikes go, Picketpost is a pretty good one. It's a fun hike with nice desert scenery and some great views. The author and his wife completed this hike at a moderate pace in 3 hours 15 minutes.
Maps: None used
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A big barrel cactus. The cleft to the summit.
Summit and mailbox. Picketpost Mountain