The Mountains of Arizona

Peak 2825, and the flanks of Peak 2777

Closer shot of Peak 2825

Black Butte as seen from Peak 2825's top

Cairn at north tip of the short tidge of Peak 2825

The actual highpoint of Peak 2825

Peak 2777 as seen from Peak 2825

The summit ridge of Peak 2777

The top of Peak 2777 has a short rock rampart

Cairn at the top of Peak 2777. The actual highest point is likely the pointy rock at the left

The Harquahala Mountains, as viewed toward the southwest

Look back at Peak 2825

The gentle summit ridge of Peak 2546

Now on top of Peak 2546's summit ridge

Look back at Peak 2777, 2825 and Black Butte

A single rock lies atop a larger rock, this being one "summit". The likelier higher point is a rock near the tall saguaro in the middle

Peaks 2546, 2777 & 2825 as seen from the east

Peaks 2825 (closer in) and 2777 as seen from Black Butte, November 2021

All images

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Aguila Road — Black Butte Satellite Peaks

Peak 2825 • Peak 2777 • Peak 2546

With 2022 coming to a close, I wanted to get out for one last hurrah before 2023 starts up. Also, this would be a one-day pause between two rain storms to move through the state. On the agenda was Winchester Peak, near Salome. As a contingency, I also had maps for a group of three peaks near Black Butte, located dead center in the Hassayampa Plain, south of Wickenburg and Aguila, north of Tonopah, in western Maricopa County.

I was on the road at 6:30 a.m., still dark but with the eastern sky starting to get purple. Traffic was light on Interstate-10. Near Goodyear, a police SUV comes speeding up with sirens and lights, then another, then they start doing that back-and-forth over all four lanes, a maneuver they do to completely stop traffic. So me and most everyone else got into the far right lane to exit, rather than be stopped for who knows how long. Then, suddenly, they kill their lights and sirens and just went away. What was that all about? My guess is it was a training.

I exited onto Salome Road, took that into Salome and US-60, went southwest a few miles to the tiny village of Harcuvar. Winchester Peak rises to the west, a visually-notable pointed peak in the southern tip of the Granite Wash Mountains. I was able to get somewhat close to the mountains, the roads being decent up to a point. There are many side roads and I actually hiked one until I decided it was trending away from the mountain. I had to backtrack and catch the next road over.

Little information that I could find exists for this peak. From a distance, I was not sure this would go as well as I hoped. The lower slopes were fine, but as I gained the main southern ridge, the rock was much looser, the grade steep to where everything wanted to slide. I got to the ridge and up ahead, a jumble of rocks forming small tiers of cliffs. It looked ugly. Suddenly, I lost interest. I could battle this route for a couple more hours, or just bail and go get those peaks near Black Butte. So that's what I did. I downclimbed the slopes, and followed the mine roads back to my car. I had only been gone two hours, and it was still only mid-morning.

Peak 2825
• Vulture Mountains (outlier)
• Hassayampa Plain
• Maricopa County

Date: December 31, 2022 • Elevation: 2,825 feet • Prominence: 604 feet • Distance: 2.6 miles (includes Peak 2777 hike) • Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes for both • Gain: 1,050 feet for both • Conditions: Cloudy, cool with occasional sun


Back on US-60, I followed it northeast through Salome again, then Wenden, and into Aguila, the little town at the very northwest corner of Maricopa County, all this about a 35-mile drive. In Aguila, I went south on Eagle Eye Road, then a few miles later, eased left at a Y-junction onto Aguila Road. This is a dirt road that connects to the Wickenburg-Tonopah Road about 25 miles ahead. The road is always graded and in fine shape. Yesterday's rains had left a few puddles and a couple spots were muddy and gooey, but I was able to motor along between 45-55 miles per hour most of the time.

This grouping of peaks straddle the road, Peaks 2825 and 2777 being summits on one massif to the north of the road, and Peak 2546 being a gentler hump to the south. All the peaks here are volcanic mounds with long sloping ridges, composed of large black volcanic boulders. The slopes were covered in the usual flora: saguaro, ocotillo, palo verde, creosote, cholla, brittlebush and assorted grasses.

Where a set of power lines cross the road, I eased onto a side road and clearing, then north a little more on a lesser track, parking in the open but near a clump of palo verde. It was 11:30 when I killed the engine. I was already dressed to go, my pack was ready and I was on the hike within a minute or two after parking.

I walked up the track a little more, then angled left and across the sandy Jackrabbit Wash, then back onto regular terrain. I planned to climb this peak first, being farthest away and highest. The slopes here were gentle and open, easy to navigate through. I was soon at the saddle between this peak and Peak 2777.

I started up the slopes of Peak 2825. There were abundant boulders, but they held together well and except for a few segments that got steep and slippy, I had no trouble at all, and was soon on top the peak, conveniently directly to a cairn. I was at the north tip of the summit ridge. The topographic map puts the spot elevation here and this cairn may have been built by the surveyors. The views were good, except I had heavy clouds and gray skies.

The actual highest point is about a three-minute walk south, a jumble of rocks with a newer, more "modern" cairn, this one with a register. This point is easily 5 feet higher than the spot elevation; maybe this should be renamed Peak 2830. I opened the register and signed in, the first since 2011. Barb Lilley & Gord MacLeod had climbed this in 2000 and placed the register here. Bob Moore was here some time in the 2000s. Then me.

I took a short break, just enough to have a drink, then I started back down the slope, back to the saddle separating the two peaks.

Peak 2777 • Sambo Mine Peak

Elevation: 2,777 feet (2,783 per Lidar) • Prominence: 330 feet per Lidar • Conditions: A tad sunnier


So then I just started up the slopes of Peak 2777. These slopes were in excellent shape too, and I had nary a barrier or protuberance to block me. I was soon on top the east tip of the summit ridge. The summit lies on the west tip, about a half-mile away.

The ridge is narrow but still safe, no concerns about falling over the side unless I really tried. There were a handful of rocky clumps that forced me to dip below and work through the jumbles. It wasn't scrambling per se, just a lot of putting my hand up here and foot over there and easing this way then that way. I kept at this until I was near the top, a small "cliff" of these boulders to get past. Once on top, there was a cairn, three rocks piled neatly on top of one another. It looked delicate, but when I went to it, it was solid. It may have been built by the surveyors, as this would be the location of the 2,777-foot spot elevation.

I took a longer break here. There were good sitting rocks. I looked for a register but found none. The sun had come out and I took advantage of this brief window to shoot images. Looking around the summit area, another rock about 15 feet away may have been a smidge higher, by inches at most. Maybe the register is here somewhere. But no luck either. I'm going to guess that the same people who signed in over at Peak 2825 probably were here too.

I had planned to hike all three of these hills in one big loop, and up until now had only hiked about 2 miles. However, I found a lovely slope that looked very promising to descend without needing to retrace my route. So I followed it down and it worked very well. But this placed me on a direct bearing to my car, so I simply chose to go there anyway, have some water I stashed in the car, and take a short break. The loop encompassing these two peaks covered 2.6 miles by my reckoning, with a little over 1,000 feet of gross gain, all done in two and a half hours.

The weather was holding steady. It was usually very cloudy and gray, but no rain nor any threat of rain. There were no veils of virga in any direction, just a low ceiling of gray clouds. The bigger peaks such as the Harquahalas were socked in. The sun would pop out for a few minutes when I'd hurriedly get out the camera to shoot images. In fact, the images shown here are sometimes out of order of when they were taken, as I took them whenever I had the chance.

It wasn't very cold either, in the low 60s. When the sun would come out, it would gently spike the humidity, so that the dewpoint was close to the air temperature. It would get slightly misty and slightly humid, ironically a little uncomfortable. On the peak's northwest slopes are old roads and a few shafts and adits from an old mine. According to the information at mindat, this is/was called the Sambo Mine, where Manganite was mined.

For the next peak, I chose to drive back out and find a parking spot closer in. It would cut off maybe a mile of overall walking. I found a spot below the power lines, on the peak's east slope.

Peak 2546

Elevation: 2,546 feet • Prominence: 306 feet • Distance: 1.2 miles • Time: 70 minutes • Gain: 486 feet (gross) • Conditions: No change


This would be an easy peak, a simple low mound with very lenient grades and no steep boulder slopes or heavy brush to slow me. In about twenty minutes I was "on top", but just on the eastern lobe of this hill. The summit ridge, so to speak, curls around to a slightly-higher western lobe. I had to drop about 40 feet to the lowpoint between the two lobes.

I was on top this western lobe quickly, and now just wandered it, looking for a highpoint. Like the two peaks before, I found a cairn, possibly built by the surveyors when they were here. There was a register hidden nearby. I stopped and sat, then signed in. And as before, I was the first person in 10 years to sign in, this log holding (mostly) the same names as the log on Peak 2825. The views from up here weren't that special. The sun was out now so I had a chance to snap a few more images.

As I walked back, another rock near a tall saguaro looked possibly higher. And sure enough, there was a cairn here too, and a register hidden within it, placed by the Lilley/MacLeod duo. It held just a handful of signatures, mostly the same as those from the other register. However, a couple people from the other register had not signed in here, maybe not knowing to look here. In my opinion, it makes no difference. The elevation differential is a couple feet at most.

Now done, I started the walk back, and all went well. I was back to my car quickly, a round trip of 70 minutes. I stopped to change clothes, then started the drive out. On the way out, I stopped a few times for photos of the three peaks from a distance, but could never quite find a "best" spot. Stupid powerlines got in the way of possible good photos.

I exited by getting onto the Wickenburg-Tonopah Road into Tonopah, and then Interstate-10 into Phoenix and into Tempe. According to my stats, I hiked or climbed 97 ranked peaks this year, all in Arizona. I was hoping to make it to 100, but fell a few short. It had been a productive year, and a very interesting year for me in other areas, a big mixed bag of stuff. And thus, without fanfare, twenty twenty two ends.

(c) 2022 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. .