Promontory Butte & Myrtle Point • Highpoint: Gila County
• Mogollon Rim

Date: (1) November 11, 1999; (2) November 1, 2003 • Elevation: 7,920 feet • Prominence: 696 feet (Myrtle Point); 150 feet (Promontory Butte) • Distance: 1 mile (total) • Time: 3 hours (including drive times) • Gain: 200 feet • Conditions: Warm in 1999, Cold and sleet in 2003 • Teammates: Ken Akerman in 1999; Beth Cousland in 2003

Promontory Butte

Nordic Beth

Some old guy

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The County Highpoints of Arizona

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The highest points in Gila County lie at the edge of the cliffs along the Mogollon Rim. Here, the Gila and Coconino county boundary runs exactly along the cliff edge, and by dumb luck, two points (Promontory Butte and Myrtle Points) both achieve 7,920 feet of elevation. Previously, it was long believed that Mazatzal Peak was the highest point in Gila County, but these cliff-edge points are higher by 17 feet.

I have been to the highpoints twice, once with Ken Akerman, and again with my wife Beth. Both visits have been interesting for their own reasons. The high country atop the rim is lovely and a nice place to visit in summer. The highpoints are barely worth the effort, but do make a good excuse to come up here.

Peakbagger lists Myrtle Point as higher, but in my opinion, both should be visited. Unfortunately, it's not "good enough" to get to the top of the points, for example. These lie in Coconino County. You need to go to the cliff's edge and dangle your piggies a little bit over the edge to get credit.

First visit, November 1999: This was the second hiking date Ken and I had set up, both of us now "serious" about visiting the fifteen county highpoints in Arizona. A few weeks earlier, we hiked Browns Peak, the Maricopa County highpoint. I drove on that one, so now it was Ken's turn to drive.

Ken was an hour late picking me up, getting bogged down in the freeway construction nearby my home. Then, when we were about 20 miles out of town, his vehicle ran funny, so we returned to my house to take my truck. Getting back was an epic, as Ken would ignore (or not hear) my directions, so we ended up following roads and freeways that didn't go to my home. There's more to this story, but not enough space here to fully explain it. Suffice to say, we finally arrived back to my home, where we transferred gear and I drove. It was late morning by now.

We arrived into Payson around noon and achieved the Rim near Woods Lake about an hour later. I turned left (west) onto Forest Road 300, the Rim Road. First up was Promontory Butte. I followed a lesser-quality road (FR-76) south to where it petered out amid big ponderosa. I got a flat along the way. Changing it added about thirty minutes to our day. From where I parked, we walked a mile west and south, finding the highpoint cairn sitting astride the cliff's edge. To make it count, we had to actually touch the outward-face of the cliff, technically within Gila County.

For Myrtle Point, we got back onto FR-300 and went west another ten miles, passing through more open areas and old burns, plus thick forest in spots. We found the side road to Myrtle Point and walked out to tag the various rocks. The weather had been warm, and we had good success with these two points.

Back to my truck, now the battery light blinked on. It still had juice and the truck seemed to run alright, but I was concerned enough to not waste time. We exited back to the paved highways and into Payson. So far, no problems. I drove home and again, no problems. Maybe there wasn't a problem and the light was on for no reason. We got back to my place, shook hands, Ken drove off and I drove to get a dinner. Now dark, with my lights on, my truck lost all power and I had to be towed to a mechanics that night. I'm just glad the truck didn't die up on the Rim.

Second visit, November 2003: We had other hiking plans for today, but when we awoke and found the weather to be cold and gray, we canceled those plans, then sat around thinking of somewhere to go. Beth asked if there was an easy highpoint to do, and I suggested the Gila County liners. So, without any advance planning, we hit the road, stopping at the Wide World of Maps shop in Mesa to pick up the necessary maps. We left home around 9:30 a.m. and drove to Payson in a little over an hour, where we had a breakfast at the "Knotty Pine" restaurant, a locals hangout. After getting gas and supplies, we drove up AZ-260 to the Rim and began our quest.

We followed the same roads as I did with Ken in 1999. We visited the point on Promontory Butte first, also making a side trip out to the benchmark that I'd ignored 4 years earlier. The weather was getting nasty, with fog and drizzle and temperatures in the mid-30s. Unfortunately, the views from the cliffs were hidden by fog. As a result, we didn't lollygag, and made the round trip hike in about 30 minutes.

The area on Myrtle Point was second. We arrived in denser fog, with sections along road where I could only see 20 feet. We drove in the little access road (FR-300C) and walked quickly out to the high area along the cliff. I was concerned when I didn't see the cairn I recall from the last time, then I found it, kicked over, rocks strewn about and the register just flung in the brush. I reconstructed everything, then we hightailed it back to the truck. By now, we had a light sleet.

We didn't waste time, driving back to the paved highway and down into Payson, where we ate a dinner and headed for home. The next day we went to the Phoenix International Racetrack to watch the big NASCAR race. It was sunny and warm, the whole experience a complete change from yesterday's sleety and cool hikes up on the Rim.

(c) 1999, 2003, 2016 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.