The Mountains of Arizona •

Peak 4344 is visible in the distance as I start the hike

Now on the ridge, Peak 4344 is back there, and 4460 is up on the ridge to the right

Some background mountains are starting to appear

Look back: Rover Peak, Willow Springs Peak, and Humboldt Peak (with FAA dome)

Now nearing the "headwaters" of Bronco Creek

On the flowery trail toward the saddle west of Peak 4460

On the summit of 4460, looking down at 4344

View west of Butte Peak and Bronco Butte

View northwest of Skull Mesa and Quien Sabe Peak

East view from the top of Peak 4460

Hiking back toward Peak 4344

Peak 4344 from the "marshy" area

Summit of Peak 4344. That plant is a musk thistle, I believe, but I may be wrong

View of Peak 4460 from Peak 4344

All images

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Bronco Creek Peaks

Peak 4460 • Peak 4344

I wanted a short hike, preferably on a trail, and maybe a peak or two to tag. Daniel Fleischmann (hgrapid) had put up a report on Summitpost on a couple peaks north of Cave Creek that looked interesting. I was unaware of these two peaks until I saw his report. They are the two main summits that top the "headwaters" of Bronco Creek, which is a small tributary of the Verde River. The Bronco Creek Trail runs below each peak and eventually connects into the network of trails up this way.

Peak 4460
• New River Foothills
• Tonto National Forest
• Maricopa County

Date: April 14, 2019 • Elevation: 4,460 feet • Prominence: 480 feet • Distance: 4 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 742 feet • Conditions: Sunny and clear, cool but warming fast


I left home early, driving north toward Cave Creek and Carefree, then north some more along Tonto Forest Road 24, which eventually loses its pavement and drops into a valley that parallels the Verde River. One interesting thing: for the 10 miles or so that I drove on Scottsdale Road between the Loop-101 Freeway and the Carefree Highway, I got all green lights. I never even slowed down below 40 m.p.h.. Traffic was light on this Sunday morning. I knew coming back, though, Id be with lots of other cars.

I rolled into the Bronco Trailhead after 7 a.m., the day bright and sunny, and cool for now, although the daytime highs would get into the 80s. I got my stuff in order, locked up the car and was hiking a little before 7:30. The trail starts in the drainage itself, then ascends a long ridge to the south of the drainage. Up ahead I could see the lower of the two peaks, Peak 4344. It jutted above the ridge just slightly. The trail was in great shape, and there were few trees to block views. Although this was within the Tonto National Forest, the land here was high desert, with desert plants and a lot of grass, all of it green after all the rains we had this winter. The flowers were blooming, too.

In about a mile, I had ascended about 450 feet, now just east of Peak 4344. The trail swings right and enters into the drainage again, then lets out onto a greener "marsh", the presumptive headwaters of Bronco Creek. The ground was solid, but in times of rain, it looked like it could get very muddy. I was near Peak 4344, but opted instead to continue on the trail another half-mile to the saddle just west of the higher of the two peaks, Peak 4460. The trail gets a little thin here, but is still easy to follow. I was at the saddle quickly, about 45 minutes after leaving my vehicle.

The summit of Peak 4460 was about 200 feet above me, to the east, up a gentle slope covered completely in knee-high grass, with a few small rock outcrops. I was wearing shorts, but I brought along my pants, and put them on, mindful that the snakes start to get busy about this time of year. I went off-trail and walked up the grassy slope, trying my best to watch my foot placement, keeping an eye out for snakes. I went slow, and fortunately, did not see any snakes. I was on top after about 15 minutes.

I spent about 5 minutes up top, looking around and snapping photos. The top itself is flat with a small cairn and a post sticking up from it. I could not find a sign-in register. In my viewshed were peaks such as Quien Sabe, Butte Peak, Skull Mesa, New River Mesa, Rover Peak, Humboldt Mountain and Kentuck Mountain, plus many others. The day was getting sunnier and warmer. I wanted to be back on trail, the sooner the better. I retraced my general route back down, and was happy to be back where I could see my feet. In retrospect, I may have taken a chance by walking through this grass at this time of year.

Peak 4344
• New River Foothills
• Tonto National Forest
• Maricopa County

Elevation: 4,344 feet • Prominence: 324 feet • Distance: 1 mile • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 344 feet • Conditions: No change


I walked back toward that marshy area, then looked around for ways to get up Peak 4344. I found a long open lane that was grassy, but with rockier sections where I could see the ground better. I was able to stay in these rocky and sometimes-sandy stretches almost all the way to the top. Only the last 30 feet was amid heavy grasses. The one-way hike from the trail covered about a half mile and took about 20 minutes. As usual, I did not stay long. I shot some images and sneezed about 20 times. I followed the same route back to the trail.

Once back to the trail, I changed out of my pants and into my hiking shorts, then walked out back to my vehicle. I was back at 10:30, a three-hour round-trip hike. There were some horse trailers parked at the trailhead plus one other vehicle, but I never saw anyone on the trail during my hike. The main road, FR-24, was busy with vehicles and Polaris-type quads.

I enjoyed the hike and am glad I spotted it on Summitpost when I did. This hike was perfect given I did not have a lot of time. It was reasonably close to home with good access, and mostly trail. This is very pretty country north of Carefree and Cave Creek and I was eyeballing all sorts of future peaks to tag. I recommend this hike. The trail continues farther and connects into other trails which allow for loop options, including access to Seven Springs up the road.

(c) 2019 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. World Hockey Association