The Mountains of Arizona •
Adams Mesa • Highpoint & Benchmark • Mazatzal Mountains
• Tonto National Forest
• Maricopa County

Adams Mesa from where I parked: Point 2453 (left), the highpoint then the benchmark peak

Approaching Point 2453

The highpoint peak, guarded by cholla

View back at Point 2453, in the morning glare

Now looking up at the BM peak

The last few feet

Adams Benchmark from 1935

Look back at the highpoint peak

View west: the actual mesa part of Adams Mesa. In back are the McDowells, Troon Mountain, Cone, Brown's Ranch, Cholla and Granite Peaks

View south of Red Mountain and Sawik Peak, partially obscured by the bush

Northeast view of Four Peaks

North View: (bigger) Granite Peak, the Mazatzal Peaks in far back, Diamond Peak (I think), Mount Ord, and Crabtree Butte in front of Ord

View of the HP peak and of the BM Peak as I descend

All images

• • •

The Arizona
Mountains Gazetteer

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Date: November 19, 2018 • Elevation: 2,523 feet (HP, 2,520 feet per Lidar), 2,516 feet (BM, 2,491 feet per Lidar) • Prominence: 482 feet (HP), 316 feet (BM, 298 feet per Lidar) • Distance: 5 miles • Time: 3 hours and 20 minutes • Gain: 1,050 feet • Conditions: Blue skies, no clouds, cool at first then warming


Adams Mesa lies west of the Beeline Highway, near its junction with the Bush Highway. It is noticeable when descending the Beeline heading northbound, near the stoplights on the Fort McDowell Reservation. Adams Mesa features two peaks of near-equal height, plus a flat part that presumably earns it "mesa" status. The small grouping of peaks lies barely within the Tonto National Forest.

The area around Adams Mesa is popular with shooters. It seems everything north and west of the Beeline is devoted to target shooting. Knowing this, I elected not to come here on a weekend, when it would be over-run with people shooting guns. Instead, I came here on a Monday morning, taking half a day off from work. I left home early and was here a little after 7 a.m., the drive covering about 20 miles and a half hour, including a stop at the Chevron to get a Tonto Forest Day Pass. I was not sure if I needed one, but I did not want to risk not having one.

I exited the Beeline at the Bush interchange, and went left. The pavement ends quickly, and a good dirt road continues in and bends right, away from Adam Mesa, which stood about two miles to the west. I parked in a pullout, suited up and started walking about 7:30, the sun still low in the east and blocked by ranges that way. No one else was here for now, and the place was very quiet.

From my car, I walked down an ATV path, losing about 40 vertical feet and putting myself into an arroyo. My plan was to walk on a bearing directly to Adams Mesa, but this meant going "against the grain" of the arroyos. I had to drop into and out of about three branches, each time gaining or losing about 30 or 40 feet. It was easy hiking. Soon, I surmounted a small ridge where there was a 4-wheel drive road, just as the map showed. I followed this road mainly west, aiming for the southeastern tip of Adams Mesa.

I could see the road would get close to its base. The road itself was in okay shape, with ruts, loose rocks and gravelly tread. I was merrily walking along when I just tripped and fell over. I slipped on some rock and before I knew it, I had landed very hard on my right side. The road was sloped such that I rolled a couple times. My wrist, right shoulder and right hip area were in great pain and I thought I had broken something. I may have said some profanities, too.

A couple moments of lying there, I realized I was fine, just beat up a little bit. My wrist was very sore but I could move it and it was not swollen. I had scraches on my arms and right leg (even though I was wearing pants). The worst was my right hip, the abductor muscle area. I could feel it was swollen. I could move it so I figured the best thing was to get up and hike more, to "walk it off". If I was truly injured, I'd know fast and would turn back if that was the case.

I was close to the eastern tip of the mesa, so I just left the road and started walking up its slopes, which were covered over in basalt boulders, suggesting some ancient lava event that begat Adams Mesa. I could move okay, perhaps a little slow. My balance seemd to be off, but I was being careful with my leg. The slopes were mostly open, but there were some sections of cholla, and lots of their little bulbs on the ground. I kicked up a few into my pants leg during the day.

I was closing in on a small rocky outcrop labelled "2453" on the map. As I got near, I angled left (west) and bypassed it, weaving through the thick cholla. Soon, I could see the summit of Adams Mesa, the southeastern peak, just up ahead. I walked up its easy slopes and sought out its highest point, a jumble of rocks near its eastern edge. Looking northwest, the other peak, which holds the benchmark, was visible. It was obvious to me that this peak here was higher, by about ten feet. However, I had plans to visit both. I did not stay long at this "highpoint" summit.

I found my way down to the saddle between the two peaks. I had to scoot down or through a few big rock jumbles, and using my right wrist to hold onto these rocks, I could feel the pain. I tried not to put too much pressure on it. My right leg was holding up well, too, just sore.

The hike up to the benchmark peak went fast, and I was on its top a little after 9 a.m., the one way hike covering about 2.5 miles. Here, I took a break, signed into the newer log (placed here a month ago, and I was the third to sign in). I snapped images of the surrounding peaks and desert, and spent about twenty minutes here, relaxing and having a small snack. Down below I could hear an occasional ATV and gun shots. I'd here a pop ... pop ... pop from somewhere in the distance, then like 25 "pops" in a row. Someone was getting their jollies at that very moment.

For the hike down, I got back to the saddle, then just aimed downhill from there, getting back into the braids of arroyos that all drain into Sycamore Creek to the southwest. I went north and followed sandy arroyos, game trails and gentle ridges, gaining almost 200 feet to get back onto the ridge and the road I had been on about two hours earlier. From here, I could see my car and I beelined (no pun intended) back to it. I was back by 11:30, a four-hour hike, covering about 5 miles. When all gains and drops were figured, I estimated I had accumulated about 1,050 feet of elevation gain.

I was feeling pretty good, but sore. I drove home and showered, and inspected my owies. My wrist was just sore, but no noticeable injuries. I had road rash on my lower legs. My right hip-abductor had a four-inch long welt, already blackish, an obvious contusion. It was quite sore for days afterwards.

I enjoyed the hike and the area. The day was lovely, with blue skies and temperatures in the mid-60s. It was perfect "fall" weather.

(c) 2018 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.