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

Date Climbed
July 16, 2012

Elevation
10,133 feet

Distance
2 miles

Time
1 hour

Gain
670 feet

Conditions
Cool, sunny but humid

Prominence
993 feet

Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version


Greens Peak
 

Looking up slope. Two cows feeding
 

The start of the road
 

Higher on the road, looking down on my truck and the distant Mount Baldy
 

The clouds are starting to build
 

The summit towers (inset: benchmark)

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Greens Peak is the highest of a set of rounded knolls sitting atop an upraised landform north of giant Baldy Peak, in far-eastern Arizona. The knolls themselves are just a few hundred feet high, relative to their base, but because the land here is generally around 9,000 feet elevation, most of these knolls have summit elevations nearing 10,000 feet, with Greens Peak being the only one to breach the magical 10,000-foot barrier. The knolls are generally symmetric, rounded humps of volcanic rock, covered in stands of aspen and ponderosa pine, or with bare grassy slopes. Greens Peak, not surprisingly, hosts some communications towers and has a road to its top.

These knolls, along with the giant mass of the White Mountains, are part of the Springerville Volcanic Field, the second-largest field in Arizona, behind only the San Francisco Volcanic Field in and around Mount Humphreys and Flagstaff in Northern Arizona. The knolls have nice round symmetric profiles, and the various sources I could find call these monogenetic volcanoes, meaning they probably erupted just once, but never in such quantity to form into one large mass with a sophisticated magma system.

Beth and I planned to spend a couple nights in the nearby town of Greer. We were here in 2004, after our climb of Mount Baldy. In 2011, the giant Wallow Fire burned much of the forest surrounding Greer, but Greer itself (mostly) escaped the fire. We wanted to come back and visit again, to escape the desert heat, and to enjoy the quiet, slow pace of the high country. We left on the 15th and made the 200-mile drive through Payson and Show Low, much of it through rain showers and thunderstorms, arriving in Greer around 1 p.m. We got situated in our cabin and relaxed.

The storms were in full gear, but I thought Iíd still make a visit to Greens Peak. From Greer I went west a little ways on AZ-260 to Forest Road 117, then north about 4 miles on the fine hard-pack to FR-61, then to where the side road leads up to the top. I parked at a cattle grate about 100 feet above the junction, and started the walk. To save time I went directly up the bunchgrass slope, but immediately a loud crack of thunder stopped me. After hiking for about 5 minutes, I hightailed it back to my truck. I drove out, then on into Eagar for some supplies, before returning to Greer. The rains were heavy and Beth and I stayed in the rest of the day, listening to the rains and the steady thundering.

The next morning started out benignly, with sunny skies and a few spotty clouds, so I tried again. I parked at the lower road junction and walked the road to the top, taking about a half-hour. The views were fantastic the whole way up, with great views of mighty Mount Baldy, which, despite its elevation of over 11,400 feet, is so broad that itís hard to get a sense of its grandeur from most vantage points. Well, Greens Peak offered one such vantage point. However, the thunderheads were starting to build, even though it was about 9 a.m. Above me was clear, mostly, but I didnít waste time.

The summit is narrow and oriented along a north-south alignment with a gentle saddle between the two ends. I found the benchmark on the north end behind a building, then walked to the south end to ďbe sureĒ, but to me, the north end is highest by a few feet. Once at the south end, I decided to descend down the slopes directly. In moments I was at the top part of the road, which I followed a few dozen feet. When it felt right, I descended down the main slope on a beeline back to the cattle grate on the lower road, and moments later, to my truck. The whole hike took about an hour.

Since the road looked so good, I decided to drive right back up. The one-way drive from the lowest junction to the top is 1.4 miles, and the road is graded and tended well-enough so that most passenger vehicles could manage it without any problems. I didnít stick around, and drove right back down, and back to our cabin in Greer.

I had hoped to hike some of the other knolls in the region, including Pole Knoll nearer to Greer, but the rains and thunderstorms filled in most of the rest of the day. Instead, I hung with Beth and also did some driving tours of the forest roads in and around Greer, including a drive to the trailheads leading up Mount Baldy. I was surprised to see the main road, AZ-273, now paved. Back in 2004, it was gravel and hardpack.

(c) 2012 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.