The Mountains of Arizona •
Blackjack Mountain • Highpoint: Blackjack Mountains
• Tonto National Forest
• Gila County

Blackjack Mountain to the right, seen from about three miles away

Blackjack Mountain pokes up behind the foreground hill, evil catclaw to the lower left

About halfway along the ridge

The peak ahead, lovely flowing grass, pinon and juniper, a little cactus

The steep uphill toward the top

Now on the top ridge, the summit is in view

Summit cairn, view east toward Haystack Butte

Southwest view, the Apache Peaks

Northwest, the Sierra Ancha

North view. Not sure what peak that is

Four Peaks way out there. The bigger peak closer in is Jump Benchmark

Dawn view of Haystack Butte and Black Mountain

All images

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The Arizona
Mountains Gazetteer

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Date: November 30, 2021 • Elevation: 4,851 feet • Prominence: 691 feet • Distance: 4 miles • Time: 2 hours & 30 minutes • Gain: 990 feet (gross) • Conditions: Cold at first, sunny and warmer later


This peak is about 20-some miles north of Globe, in the hinterland of hills that lie south of the Salt River, west of US-60. The peak has no official name but is the best candidate for the highest point of the Blackjack Mountains. The extent of the range is not clear and there are no obvious demarcation lines, but the consensus is that this is the range highpoint ... so it gets the range name by extension.

Matthias suggested the peak a couple days ago when we climbed Black Butte. I wanted to do some road scouting for another peak in the area anyway, so I thought it would be a good thing to combine the two as a single outing. I left home before dawn and was in Globe as the sun was rising. I picked up snacks at a Speedway gas station, then drove north on US-60 to Haystack Road (Tonto FR-303). I went north on this road 4.5 miles to FR-645, which heads west. I was on FR-645 for 2 miles. I passed by cone-shaped Black Mountain (another peak named Black that has nothing "black" about it), and parked in the only pullout along the road I could find, a little east of Hill 4472. Blackjack Peak rose two miles northwest of my position. The roads were fine. FR-303 is wide and smooth, while FR-645 was decent, not as smooth, but good as long as I went slow.

I rolled in a little after 7 a.m.. The sun was still behind the eastern horizon, everything that way backlit for now. My car's temperature gauge read 27°, so I stayed put for about 20 minutes to let the sun rise and warm things up. These days have been clear with no humidity, so the air temperature can change dramatically in a short period of time, nothing (like moisture) to buffer it. When I started hiking at 7:45, it "felt" like the high 30s, cold but not uncomfortable.

A fence runs along the road to the north and I could find no obvious weaknesses, so I had to get on my back and shimmy under a strand. I aimed northwest, the plan to get on Hill 4472's east slopes and cut an ascending diagonal across it, to place myself on the long ridge that leads to Blackjack Mountain. At first I had to drop into a couple arroyos, which are always brushy. Once past them, the brush stayed consistent. The forest here was light and spaced, and the brush itself was not an issue as there were always openings to pass through. It was the wretched catclaw that caught me nearly every step of the way. It had been a wet summer so the catclaw was everywhere. I'd come to a patch of it, a rusty orange color, rising about 2 feet high usually, and no obvious way around it, so I just plowed through it. I hated every second of it and cursed the catclaw to the bowels of eternal hellfire.

I eventually located myself onto the ridge, feeling slightly woozy from the blood loss, but in better spirits because the peak was up ahead and no obvious impediments in the way, and the catclaw seemed to disappear. I'd been hiking a half hour or so, and the temperature seemed to have increased into the 50s by now. The "delta" effect of the temperatures in these conditions can be impressive.

The next mile was mostly level, a slight uphill gradient, then a couple places where I gained steeply uphill for just a few dozen feet, only to drop down again, there being a couple hills along the way. The ground was a sea of pretty yellow grass and spotty piñon-juniper. Blackjack Mountain appears as a broad conical mound. Within another half hour, I was at the last saddle below the peak itself. I was about 400 feet below the top.

I climbed up its south slopes, the grade steeper but easy, nothing to stop me. It wasn't brushy and the rocks did their usual thing of rolling about every third step. In ten minutes I was atop the ridge, and another few minutes was on its summit. There is a cairn, more like a sloppy heap of stones. The views were fantastic. With essentially zero humidity, I could see ridges and canyons and other details on far-away peaks and cliffs. Haystack Butte was to the east, then the cliffs of the Salt River to the north. Sweeping to the west I spotted the Sierra Ancha, then Four Peaks way to the northwest. The Apache Peaks rose to the southwest. Conditions were pleasant so I took a fifteen minute rest up top.

I returned following the same route. I had no better luck with the catclaw going down as I had coming up. I was soon at the fence again, where I again had to shimmy beneath it. It is unbecoming for a 54-year old man of my social status to have to do this, but I've become good at it over the years, and the lure of a summit outweighs any concerns I might have about scooting under barb-wire fences. I just hope the fellas at the country club never see me do this.

I was back to my car, my total time roughly two and a half hours, covering 4 miles. The hike had gone well, route-finding easy, lovely views, beautiful weather and glorious fields of flowing catclaw. I spent time back at the car, in no hurry. This is hunting season and I saw a number of camps as I drove in, but no one this far in. I saw no one, heard no engines, and had the entire place to myself. I enjoyed the experience very much.

I exited back into Globe, then proceeded west through Miami, and a few miles later to Pinto Valley Road. This is where I want to do a short road-scout, and while in the area, bag two more easy summits, Peak 4870 and Needle Mountain.

(c) 2021 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.