Antelope Peak • White Mountains
• Springerville Volcanic Field
• Southern Apache County


Antelope Peak
 

The forest boundary gate
 

Hiking the muddy road
 

Now just going upslope
 

Now on the higher road
 

There's the top
 

View west at Greens Peak
 

Stick Scott
 

Walking back to my truck
 

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Arizona's
Prominence Peaks

 

Date: August 15, 2014 • Elevation: 9,003 feet • Prominence: 650 feet • Distance: 4 miles • Time: 75 minutes • Gain: 793 feet • Conditions: Humid with developing storms

It's been three months since I have done any sort of hiking. I had a very busy summer, and the heat and general storminess dampened my motivation to leave town. However, I very much wanted to get out for a few days before classes started for the Fall semester at ASU. Beth and I bandied around ideas of where to go, and we opted to camp three nights at the Winn Campground in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona.

My truck has been a little suspect of late, with a small seal problem creating an oil seep. But otherwise, it runs fine. However, I had not driven it hard all summer, with no uphill grades. I was concerned it might not make it... and there was just one way to find out. We packed up our stuff and hit the road from Scottsdale about noon on Thursday the 14th, hot and humid as usual.

Our drive went well. The truck did fine on the uphill grades. We passed through Payson and Show Low, eventually arriving to the Winn Campground around 4 p.m. in the middle of a heavy rain squall. Overall, we gained nearly 8,000 vertical feet, going from Scottsdale (about 1,500 feet above sea level) to the Winn Campground, roughly 9,400 feet. Despite the rain, the cool temperatures and fresh forest air felt wonderful.

We found a spot in the campground, and a little later the camp host rolled up to check us in. As we were standing around chatting, a pretty german shepherd dog just appears out of nowhere, full of energy. The dog belonged to the camp hosts. Dusty was his name, and he was keen to make new friends, and we gladly pet him and rubbed his ears.

I wanted to hike a few peaks, and there are many little hills and knolls up here on the elevated Springerville Volcanic Field north of Mount Baldy. Two years ago, I hiked Greens Peak while we stayed in Greer. This time, I had my sights set on a few other peaks, all with elevations above 9,000 feet, but none being difficult.

Today started calm with high clouds and a generally moist air mass. Although it was cool and not raining for now, there was dew everywhere and it was clear that storms would build later in the day. Thus, I wanted to get an early start for the peaks I had on today's agenda, Antelope Peak and Pole Knoll. If the weather cooperated, I might hike a few others nearby.

Antelope Peak is a noticeable peak located north of State Route AZ-260, a little east of its junction with SR AZ-373, which leads south into the town of Greer. Set back about two miles from the highway, it's a big symmetrical hump of a hill with a road that cuts across its south face. Thus, hiking Antelope Peak is just a matter of following the road, assuming it is dry.

From the Winn Campground, I followed some forest roads into Greer, then out of Greer to AZ-260, and east to Forest Road 558. Yesterday's rains had made this road very muddy. The soil here is essentially all volcanic particles of various sizes, and volcanic mud is notoriously goopy and slick. I drove in less than a half-mile and parked near Fish Creek Corral, immediately east of a gate at the forest boundary. In this short drive, I had collected quite a bit of mud on my truck's tires.

I passed through the gate and walked the road, but each step was either a slip or a slide. Soon, I was walking in the grass beside the road, and soon thereafter, when I was about a half-mile beyond the gate, I left the road altogether and aimed directly north, going cross country across the open grass meadows. Navigation was trivially easy, and the ground was not so muddy.

The change in gradient is so smooth and subtle that I did not sense I was gaining elevation at all until I turned around at times, surprised to see I had actually gained a couple hundred feet. I aimed uphill and soon, reached the part of the road that cuts across the peak's south slopes. Up here, the mud wasn't so severe, so I followed the road up to the top, achieveing a soft saddle a little east of the highpoint. Some communications towers sit on the slightly-lower east peak.

I angled left and very quickly reached the summit of this hill, which is at 9,003 feet, just barely over that 9,000-foot barrier. The top is open and includes a waist-high cairn. I took some photos and surveyed the surrounding countryside. Big Mount Baldy stood over 2,000 feet higher southwest, many dozens of smaller hills south, west and north of me. To the east, the land slopes downward toward the plateaus surrounding Springerville and Eagar.

The weather was holding up for now, but puffy clouds were starting to collect. I figured I had another 90 minutes before the storms reached critical mass, so I didn't delay too much. I retraced my steps down and the easy slopes expedited travel. I was back to my truck 75 minutes after leaving it, covering nearly 4 miles round trip with slightly under 800 feet of gain. I took a moment to rest and grab a drink, but soon drove out the road to the main highway toward my next objective, Pole Knoll, about 5 miles to the west, plus an unplanned date with the auto mechanics down in Show Low.

(c) 2014 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.