Peacock Peak • Range Highpoint: Peacock Mountains
• East-Central Mohave County

Date Climbed
April 3, 2011

Elevation
6,292 feet

Distance
3 miles

Time
3.5 hours

Gain
1,700 feet

Conditions
Windy, brisk, lovely

Prominence
2,092 feet
(Rank: 61)

Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version


Adam's truck ahead of me along Jan Road as we approach the Peacocks
 

Peacock Peak from Hensz Way
 

Summit and route (into the glare) from Point 4928
 

From the top, looking west at the Cerbats
 

Me atop Peacock
 

I said "Adam, say cheese" but I think he misunderstood
 

View north, with Red Lake Playa and the Grand Wash Cliffs
 

View southwest toward Kingman

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The Peacock Mountains are a small range about 20 miles northeast of Kingman, somewhat overshadowed by the Hualapai Mountains to the south, the Cerbats to the west, and the Grand Wash Cliffs to the north. It is also surrounded by a patchwork of state and private lands, and as a result of these factors, very few people apparently bother to hike in the Peacocks, much less seek its eponymous highest point. Very little information exists about this peak anywhere. Scott Casterlin and John Hamann were the only two people I knew who'd been up and they told me the east-side approach was very brushy and very grueling.

In May of last year I was in the area and decided to scout the range, looking for ideas on how to approach a potential hike. I scouted the east side via the town of Hackberry, but a lot of the foothills were posted against trespassing, and the road net was confusing. That, and the slopes looked incredibly brushy. I tried to come in from the west but could not solve the riddle of how to get onto the few roads that exist on that side. A set of railroad tracks parallel the highway (AZ-66, old US-66), and I got no nearer than the highway.

In February, Adam Helman and I were discussing some hiking plans for this part of Arizona, with Mount Tipton in the Cerbats the primary objective. I did a Google-search on Peacock Peak and found a scant report from a group from the Las Vegas Mountaineering Club (LVMC) who came up the west side earlier in the month. More importantly, they included directions to get onto the west-side roads, and they also mentioned that the actual hike was relatively short and easier than expected. This was great news, and we planned to see for ourselves, setting this hike up as the last for both of us on this trip.

After our success on Tipton, we drove into Kingman for some food and rest before heading into the Peacocks to set up camp for the night. From the Andy Devine Exit off of Interstate-40, we went north on AZ-66 for 4.5 miles to Mohave Airport Drive, then right for a half-mile to Shipping Lane, turning left (north). After about 1.2 miles the pavement ends and the road doglegs left, now called Bruce Road. Another mile or so, it doglegs right, now called Topeka Road and paralleling the railroad tracks. We stayed on Topeka for about two more miles to Jan Road, then went right (east) on Jan Road for about 7 miles as it gained into the foothills.

The whole area north of the airport has to be some of the ugliest, dreariest land in the entire state. In its natural state it would be high-desert scrubland, but at some point in the past, someone got the bright idea to blade a bunch of roads and sell lots. Very few people live out here, and we'd occasionally see a ramshackle trailer out in the distance, or more often, just a pile of garbage someone dumped alongside the road.

Jan Road ended at a T-junction, with an abandoned residence to the north. The road to the right was signed as Hensz Way. We followed this road as it climbed steeply up a foothill, switchbacking a few times, rubbly and steep (and loose) enough to warrant 4-wheel drive. About a mile on this road we were about 400 feet above the lower plains with some views down into a few more trailer homesteads. We parked in a pullout with plenty of room for our two trucks. It was about 5 p.m. when we arrived in very windy conditions. We sat around and relaxed until night fell, and turned in early given our tiredness after Tipton. I observed that not one of the homesteads we saw below us had any lights on during the night. Not one. We saw no vehicles, no headlights, heard no dogs, nothing. I suspect that this entire area must be abandoned. It was bizarre.

We rose early the next morning, intending to be on the move about at sun-up. It was breezy and about 10 degrees cooler than yesterday. We walked to the end of the road, going left at the only junction, then charged up a hillside to gain onto a small rocky knob with spot elevation 4,928. We could see very nearly our entire route, with the pointed summit of Peacock Peak directly ahead of us, maybe a mile as the crow flies, and about 1,600 feet higher. It looked very straightforward. The only concern was the final hundred or so feet looked rocky and cliffy, so we hoped we'd find a way through the maze up high once we got there.

From the initial knob we descended about 60 feet, crossed an open saddle, bent slightly right (southeast) and gained up a steep, forested hillside, topping out at another knob, elevation 5,320 feet. Once at this vantage point, we could see the next knobby waypoints we'd need to get to, all very straightforward. The brush was very light and mostly open, and we made good time up the various slopes. A few beaten paths helped in spots. This was far nicer than expected.

In time we'd climbed to the last of the knobby ridgepoints, now directly below the summit, which was still 500 feet higher. We ambled up the slopes, which became progressively rockier with some loose sections, but we could always see a way through the brush or around the rock obstacles. We kept at this, following natural constrictions ever higher until we were essentially at the summit. The final 100 vertical feet was not too bad but we did have to pay attention to landmarks to be sure to come down the same way.

We came upon what we believed to be the summit blocks, and I climbed up the small cliff band, gaining about 10 feet only to discover the true summit still a few dozen yards farther to the east. So we skirted below this initial cliff band and worked our way up to a saddle, then the easy last few feet to the real top. It was barely 7:40 a.m., a one-hour, forty-minute ascent. We took an extended breakfast break up here, enjoying the views in all directions.

The Peacocks are a surprisingly pretty range, and the north and south views were of its main range crest and subsidiary peaks. Kingman sprawled out to the southwest, and the Hualapais (with late-season patches of snow) to the south. Remote Mohon Mountain was visible to the southeast. Yesterday's peak, Mount Tipton, was off to the northeast, kind of tricky to identify it from so far away.

The log book held just a handful of names going back about 15 years. Most years only one or two parties would sign in, some years seeing no one. A few had come up the brushier east side. One guy said it was miserable and "hoped we'd come up a different way". A brother-sister team from just the weekend before spent 6 hours climbing the summit from the east. There were a few sign-ins from the LVMC ascent in February, and another from about a month ago, meaning four parties of ascents in 2011 alone, probably as many as had come up in the previous 5 years.

The descent went quickly and with no mishaps. The hike back took just under an hour and a half, and including our summit break and other rest stops, we had been gone for just three and a half hours. A very pleasant and unexpectedly simple hike, given the horror stories (or none at all) that I'd heard about this peak. I was tickled to get this one along with yesterday's big fish, Tipton. After we got our stuff sorted out, we descended back onto the highway, with Adam heading home to San Diego and me to Scottsdale. I took the scenic route along AZ-66 into Seligman, Interstate-40 a little bit, then AZ-89 into Prescott and on home. A productive and fun weekend for me, and as always, thanks to Adam for his company, math skills and good camp food.

As for the legalities of this peak, the roads are all public right-of-way and we saw not a single sign against trespassing. We saw no life at all. The summit might be on state land. I don't think anyone comes up here ever. The Peacocks are an odd, forgotten segment of Arizona.

(c) 2011 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.