The Mountains of Arizona •
Brown Road Butte • Usery Mountain Foothills
• City of Mesa
• Maricopa County

Brown Road Butte, Arizona
Gate at the start
Brown Road Butte, Arizona
Halfway up, the top is above
Brown Road Butte, Arizona
Top rock, view to the northwest
Brown Road Butte, Arizona
Southeast thunderhead
Brown Road Butte, Arizona
View northeast: Pass Mountain, some of the Superstition Mountains

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Date: July 19, 2021 • Elevation: 1,941 feet (1,928 feet per LIDAR) • Prominence: 288 feet • Distance: 0.7 miles • Time: 35 minutes • Gain: 330 feet • Conditions: Hot and sunny and hot


Brown Road Butte is in Mesa. It's a scraggly hill with a flat top, found along Brown Road just east of the Loop-202. The hill is privately-owned but access is allowed. A badly-eroded road curls up to the top, and the hike is short, about 0.35 mile each way.

I was in Tempe, briefly at my office, then heading back to Payson. The day was hot but not insanely hot, about 100°-103° Fahrenheit. I drove the Loop-202 to Brown Road and exited, going east a half mile, then parking in the meager lot. One other vehicle was there. It was 12:30 p.m., sunny and hot. Where was everyone?

I went light, and started walking immediately. A gate spans the road lower down, keeping vehicles out, but hikers can easily breach it. The road has ruts about 4 feet deep, but decent paths have been bashed in on the edges of the road. I walked slowly, stopping often, to stay aware of the effects of the heat on me.

The road curls up the east side of the hill, and in about 15 minutes, fed me onto the flat top. The highpoint appears to be a rock on the west edge, rising about two feet above the flat summit. There used to be a tower of some sort up here in the past. Today, only the flat pad remains, no old buildings or decaying concrete.

I snapped a couple images. A big thunderhead was developing to the east. Pass Mountain and the Superstition Mountains were visible. Looking west, the air was reasonably clear and I could see hills toward Phoenix easily. I did not stick around.

The hike down went quickly, and I was back to my car a little over a half hour after starting. I was burning up by now, but doing alright. I piled in and left the area. I had another hill on the agenda, an unnamed hill known locally as Whisper Mountain. It lies about a mile northeast along Crismon Road. However, private neighborhoods flank the hill and its obvious access point, a road that gains steeply to its summit. I could not get past the front gate. There are cross-country ways up this hill, but no way was I going to do that today in these conditions.

I located myself onto Ellsworth Road, which leads north past the Usery Mountains and down toward the Salt River. This allowed me to get to the Beeline Highway easily, and I was back in Payson about an hour later. The thunderheads had grown and the temperature was about 20 degrees cooler up in Payson.

This was my first time hiking in 100°-plus weather in awhile and I wanted to test myself again in a controlled environment. If I felt lousy, I could bail quickly. I don't like hiking in hot weather but I feel I should keep myself trained in it to some extent. This hill isn't much, but for locals it's a good workout. I've read it's also a good spot to watch the sunset.

On HikeArizona, search "Brown Road Butte" and then go to the triplogs and scroll to the one from "cw50must" from 2017. His photoset includes some images from a drive-up he did in 1994, back when the tower stood and the road was barely passable. Some of the images overlook the surrounding desert and scattered developments, nothing like it is today. There was no freeway back then, for example. The difference is striking and also fascinating. I was a relative rookie (2 years) to Arizona in 1994 and I have clear memories of the open desert, scattered farmlands and developments from back then. Now it's all one massive city. Yes, I know I sound like an old man who remembered when all this was fields.

(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.