The Mountains of Arizona

Black Mountain in early morning light

The upper ridge

Summit nigh

Summit rocks looking north, Date Creek Mountains in the distance

View west at Peak 3043

Descending off Black Mountain. When you see it this way, it's plainly obvious how it got its name

Peak 3043 and the old fence track

View of the peak, the big cairns can be seen

Now on the high ridge

Summit cairn of Peak 3043

Montage: cairn shots, looking down at the track, a view of Black Mountain

Peak 3234

Now seen from the parking area

Views along the (road) hike

View north, the Weaver Mountains and Peak 6100 sort of center-left

All images

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Out Wickenburg Way

Black Mountain • Peak 3043 • Peak 3234

I was looking at three peaks that lie near one another along US-60 about five miles west of Wickenburg. The main peak here is Black Mountain, then to the northwest a little are Peaks 3043 and 2862. Black Mountain lies less than a half mile north of US-60 so access would not be a problem. The other two are north a couple miles, and a road gets close, but I was uncertain of the road's quality. In case those peaks got shut out, I had another peak in the area, Peak 3234, on the docket as a back up.

I had originally intended to climb these yesterday. I had a day open, and when my alarm went off at 4 a.m., I awoke and just lay there, and decided the heck with this and went back to sleep. So today, I re-set the alarm, and this time got my ass up and got ready for some simple peakbagging. One upshot: today would be a few degrees cooler, lows about 60° in Wickenburg, highs in the low 80s.

I was on the freeway at 5:15 a.m.. Traffic was moderate but flowed at 65-70 miles per hour, except for the idiot who raced by me at 100 m.p.h., and weaved from lane to lane. Of course, part of the fun is to see how close they can come to your vehicle as they pass you. It was about this time I wondered where Arizona DPS was. Anyway, I followed the usual route to the Carefree Highway/Arizona-74 exit, went west to US-60, then north into Wickenburg, arriving as the sun was rising. I stopped for snacks and continued west through town, staying on US-60, aiming for the first biggish peak ahead of me, Black Mountain.

Black Mountain
• Vulture Mountains
• Arizona State Trust Land
• Maricopa County

Date: October 11, 2023 • Elevation: 3,108 feet • Prominence: 516 feet • Distance: 1.2 miles • Time: 80 minutes • Gain: 550 feet • Conditions: Clear, cool but warming as the sun rose


The peaks out here are all volcanic in nature, many covered in blackened volcanic boulders. This is one of three "Black" protuberances in the area. There's also Black Hill about four miles northeast, and the collective Black Hills about another five or six mile northeast. This Black Mountain is covered in brush, grass and palo verde and doesn't appear black at all.

I drove until I was south of the peak, and found a small ingress point that allowed me to park off the highway, on top of a tiny hill. I changed into my hiking clothes and got my pack sorted, and was walking at 6:40 a.m., temperature about 65°. It was a clear day with a light breeze and very comfortable. It was slightly cool for now, but not cold. The temperature would rise quickly as the sun rose.

I had to shimmy under a barb-wire fence. Then I walked into the drainages and low ridges, aiming for a longer ridge that comes off the peak on its south. I had open lanes but most everything was covered in low grass about 4 inches high, just enough to hide critters. I kept an eye open for snakes, but never saw any. The rocks moved, being rounded rubble lying atop one another. Footing would be the biggest challenge.

Soon I was on the ridge, which steepened incrementally. Only the top half was steep enough to be loose, but I moved slowly and never encountered any difficulties. I was then atop the highest ridge, the summit now visible a little more to the north.

On this highest ridge, the slope was very lenient. I walked from rock to rock, avoiding brush and trying to keep my feet visible. I arrived on top roughly 35 minutes after starting. The top features mostly low rocks, none higher than my thigh. I found a register in a cairn tucked into the highest rock outcrop. The pen barely worked, but I signed myself in, the first in many years. The register held about twenty names, mostly the familiar ones, some names grom the late 1990s. I took about a ten minute break up here, the weather being so nice. A breeze was picking up but it felt good.

I descended the same way. On the steeper slopes, it was all I could do to keep from rolling down. I nearly fell once and I skated or skied a few times, but always stayed upright. Even the softest touch would make the rocks roll. They were not on the slope tight. I moved carefully, and soon was down, onto the flats and drainages, and back to my car. It took about the same amount of time to exit as it did to climb the peak.

In sum, this was an easy peak with easy logistics, and I was pleased to hike it successfully. It's nothing special, but it is close to the highway and presents no challenges other than the fence to squeeze under and the rolling rocks.

Now to explore those peaks to the west.

Peak 3043

Elevation: 3,043 feet • Prominence: 493 feet • Distance: 1.6 miles • Time: 55 minutes • Gain: 513 feet • Conditions: Warmer with a breeze


Back on US-60, I drove west a couple miles and then turned right (north) onto a track, the turn coming before a small hill that lies immediately north of the highway. This road was a little haggard (rocky, some ruts) but it was a good road. I drove in a couple miles and parked at a gate in the fence that parallels the road, roughly a half mile southeast of Peak 3043.

Peak 3043 is blacker than Black Mountain, with more bare slopes of the black volcanic rock. It has a gentle upper ridge with the summit being at the far left (west) from where I viewed it. Inside the gate, a rough track runs up the southern slope of the peak to top out on the lower east end of this upper ridge. This track parallels what was once the original fence line.

I walked uphill on this track. It was rocky and loose but free of brush. Old fenceposts stuck up from the ground, many rotted and many lying on their side or simply gone. The track peters out about 50 feet below the top ridge. This little bit was just steep boulders, but solid, and I was soon on top the ridge.

The grade on the ridge was gentle and the rocks mostly in place, and quickly, I was at the top, which features three very large cairns. The summit cairn is about 5 feet tall. The next closest one is about the same but shaped like a bowl, I'm guessing to place brush in it and light it as a beacon. The farthest one was taller than me, easily 7 feet tall. I am not sure who built these or why, or how long ago. I could not locate a register.

I spent about five minutes up here, looking around. It had warmed into the high 70s, so it was comfortable. There were no clouds and it was dry. The breezes had picked up, gusting about 20 miles per hour. They would cool me down.

I followed the same route down. While up high, I looked over at Peak 2862 and the roads below that got close to it and decided I'd go check it out once down. However, once on the roads, two washouts stopped me from driving in closer. I wasn't far, about a mile, but I wasn't interested in walking the roads. So Peak 2862 got the boot. But I know now it exists and may come back for it if in the area again.

Since Peak 2862 was now off the agenda, I looked at my backup, Peak 3234, which rises about five miles northeast, north of the city. This one has a track to its top, which would be preferred now that it was warming to where snakes would likely be out sunning themselves.

Peak 3234
• Wickenburg Mountains
• Yavapai County

Elevation: 3,234 feet • Prominence: 564 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 60 minutes • Gain: 565 feet • Conditions: Sunny, strong breeze, warm


I drove back to Wickenburg, then north on Vulture Mine Road to where it connects with US-93. I was last on this road in February. Since then, the state has been heavily reworking this whole stretch of highway to include more traffic circles, widen parts of it, create better merges, and so forth. Whether this has anything to do with future Interstate-11, I don't know. But it needs attention as it has always been a notorious pinch point for traffic in its current two-lane state.

I was on US-93 for just a mile northbound, turning right onto Scenic Loop Road. After passing a few homes, it drops into a riverbed and up the other side, now a wide dirt road. Peak 3234 could be seen in the distance, obvious by the white stripe (road) on its south-facing slope. I was on Scenic Loop Road for four or five miles (I didn't track it carefully), parking in a clearing underneath some power lines, on State Trust Land.

This peak is the northwestern-most of a line of peaks that include Red Top and Sophies Flat Peaks to the south, that area being minorly developed with trails. I want to return to it when it cools a little more. The "Black Hills" I mentioned earlier are nearby too. These peaks probably belong to the Wickenburg Mountains, which rise generally north and east of Wickenburg, east of the Hassayampa River. The first two peaks are outliers of the Vulture Mountains, which lie south and west of the city and the Hassayampa.

It was much warmer now, but pleasant, temperature about 83° going by what my car said. I packed light and started walking the road. A branch road extends west about a half mile, connecting to the "main" road that goes to the top. This branch road was good at first but quickly degenerated into messy rocks, bad leans and ruts, that kind of thing. A Jeep or ATV would be needed to drive this road.

Now on the main road, I followed it up to the top, there being no challenges other than to stay on the road and not fall down. The tread was loose and uneven. I was on top after about 20 minutes, the top being open and flat, a fire ring in the middle. What was here originally, if anything, I don't know. Why a road was built here, I don't know. There was a little random trash, like water bottles, a bag of chips, cloth strips, but nothing too bad. It appears the shooters don't bother coming here.

The views were nice. I did a quick 360 and looked around, shot a couple images, and started down. I was warming up myself, and I wanted back to the car sooner than later. The round trip took about an hour.

I didn't hike much, just 4 miles total, but accrued over 1,600 feet of gain and three more peaks. This humble peak is my 1,100th ranked peak world wide, going by my statistics.

I drove back to Phoenix the way I came, no problems until I was on the Loop-101 at the Pima/Princess bend when things got slow. I exited onto surface streets, eventually onto Scottsdale Road, which was a comedy of errors, hitting every red, traffic, tourists crossing the road whenever the mood strikes. I got home okay, happy with three more peaks and a good day in the hills.

(c) 2023 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. .