Hyde Creek Mountain • Range Highpoint: Santa Maria Mountains
• Yavapai County


The Santa Maria Range


The peak peeks above the trees


Beth poses at the summit cabin


So does her husband

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Date: May 9, 2004 • Elevation: 7,272 feet • Prominence: 1,650 feet • Distance: 6 miles • Time: 4 hours • Gain: 1,600 feet • Conditions: Clear and warm • Teammates: Beth

Beth and I were looking to get out of town for the day, a peak to hike, not too big and not too small, not too far and not too close. A scan of Bob Martin's Arizona's Mountains listed Hyde Creek Mountain in the Santa Maria Range about 35 miles (as the crow flies) northwest of Prescott. It seemed to meet our criteria, so off we went. We got on the road early Sunday morning and made the 100-mile drive to Prescott, then the 40-odd miles north and west via various local roads to the Hyde Creek Mountain Trailhead.

Hyde Creek Mountain is a nice pointed peak, rising to 7,272 feet, topping the Santa Maria Range, which sits way out in the middle of the unpopulated west-central Yavapai highlands. Of note in this area is the largest of the old Spanish Land Grants still in existence in Arizona today. These date from the 17th century, the one in Arizona a "float", a land-trade made by the United States Federal Government to the landowners in return for their original lands, which were in New Mexico. Today it's a private cattle ranch on about 100,000 acres of land, and closed to the public.

Hyde Creek Peak is just about two air-miles from the eastern boundary. The trailhead is near "Camp Wood", which is really just a big camping area in the forest, not a town or even a townsite or such. We took the good dirt road west of Williamson Valley Road about 15 miles to Camp Wood, then followed smaller roads northwest to the trailhead. The final 2 miles was over a narrow, rough road, but 4-wheel drive was not necessary (a passenger vehicle might have some trouble in parts). We were the only ones at the trailhead, which was just a tiny wide area in the road. We started hiking about 11:15 a.m. in nice, barely warm conditions.

The trail heads north down into Stringtown Wash, then up and pretty much straight toward the obvious summit. The first mile and a half is gently sloped, and pretty rocky, although the trail is nice and wide. The scape was a forest of the usual pinon pines, junipers, bigger firs, grasses, prickly pear cactus and lots of wildflowers (lots of periwinkles). We came to a gate after a while and passed through it, then stayed right at the only main junction we came to, where the sign mentioned Hyde Lookout up ahead.

About here the trail enters a small but tight canyon and gains steeply of the headwall, making two or three long switchbacks as it comes to "Lower Saddle", then "Upper Saddle", where we rested briefly. The summit was just directly above us, about 3/8 of a mile of hiking to go. We made this final stretch and arrived at the top about 12:30 in clear, breezy weather. A well-kept lookout hut sits atop the peak, and it appears to get regular maintenance. The screen door was probably put on this year. No one was in and it was locked tight, so we went around back to the summit rocks and benchmark, where we took photos and ate lunch.

From the top, Humphreys Peak stood grandly to the northeast on the horizon, while innumerable ridges and hilltops splayed out in all directions. The Bradshaw Mountains were visible to the southeast, as was Granite Mountain nearby Prescott. There was even a good, clean port-a-john up there, so I used it (you needed to know that, of course). We surmised this is obviously manned at times during the year, but that hikers are probably not as common. It's definitely not close to anywhere and a bit obscure anyway. But it is a great hike with great views.

We hiked down in just over an hour, for a round trip time of three hours, including stops, with 6 miles and 1,500 feet of gain for the entire trip. The loose rubble made for slow going, otherwise we may have been out sooner. After a late lunch in Prescott, we drove on home and had a relaxing evening.

(c) 2005, 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.