The Mountains of Arizona

Cedar Mountain

Cedar Mountain North

Top of Peak 7442, Cedar Mountain North Peak

Cedar Mountain in sun

Top of Cedar Mountain

Peak 7312

Top of Peak 7312

Cedar Mountain and its north peak as the sun finally shone through

All images

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San Francisco Volcanic Field

Peak 7442 • Cedar Mountain • Peak 7312

Today we would be concentrating on a clump of three peaks at the west end of the Kaibab National Forest. The main peak is Cedar Mountain, which rises high above the surrounding peaks with over 850 feet of prominence. The other two peaks were Peak 7442, a ranked peak just north of Cedar Mountain, and Peak 7312, which rises west a couple miles.

Cedar Mountain and its northern neighbor lie on Kaibab National Forest land, while Peak 7312 lies in an Arizona State Trust section in an area of scattered homes and other private properties. These are along highway AZ-64, north of Williams. If successful, this would "finish" this area of peaks, not counting another handful that are on private land with difficult access.

Peak 7442
Cedar Mountain North

• San Francisco Volcanic Field
• Kaibab National Forest
• Coconino County

Date: September 23, 2023 • Elevation: 7,442 feet • Prominence: 402 feet • Distance: 3.1 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 675 feet • Teammate: Matthias Stender • Conditions: Cloudy and cool, light sprinkle • Prog-rock bands played: Soft Machine, Forgas Band Phenomena, Moving Gelatine Plates, Ghost Rhythms

ArizonaMainPBLoJInteractive map

Matthias and I met at Denny's on the Carefree Highway and Interstate-17 at 5 a.m.. The drive north went well, the sun rising as we gained the grade above Camp Verde and into Flagstaff. We stopped in Parks for snacks. The weather was cool with heavy clouds, temperature in the 50s. We were aware that a small system was moving through. Weather sites all said it would push through by mid-day, so we felt comfortable to gamble a little that this was more bark than bite.

We went north into Spring Valley, and west along Spring Valley Road and along lesser forest tracks until we were east of the two Cedar Mountain peaks. The roads were laid out such that it made sense to hike the lower northern peak first. We parked in a clearing alongside a lesser track, about a mile and a half southeast of Peak 7442, or "Cedar Mountain North".

We started walking about 8:30 a.m., following the track. We missed a turn and stayed on the lesser track until it petered out. We then went cross country and came upon the main track again, and followed it almost a mile total, until we were directly below the southeast slope of the peak.

We hiked up through moderate brush, the slope steep but not bad, the tread sometimes loose. The heavy vegetation helped keep everything from sliding. When we were about 50 feet below the top, we came upon a cliffy knoll, the rocks heaped into a wall running a couple hundred feet long, and about 10-30 feet high. We found a spot to scamper up and through a cleft, and onto the higher ground behind it.

The summit, so we thought, was just a few more feet up, but when we got there, we realized we were at the southeast end of the summit ridge. So we walked about another 500 feet, dropping about 30 feet, to the true summit. We found a register and a cairn built atop a big boulder. Around back another 20 feet was another cairn and register. We walked the whole area to be sure we didn't miss any possible highpoint rocks (or more cairns and registers). Our opinion was that the cairn atop the rock was likely highest, so we grouped the two registers into one bottle and placed it at this cairn. This peak seems to be visited a few times a year, one or two people with many repeated entries.

Views were decent but the sky was so gray, it was not conducive for photos. Humphreys peak to the east was completely socked in by the clouds. Kendrick's top was clouded, but Sitgreaves's top was visible, so the cloud line was probably at 10,000 feet. It was cool but not cold, maybe 60°. We spent about ten minutes here.

We hiked down the same way, and had about five minutes of a very light sprinkle. This would be the only precipitation we would have all day. We had been gone two hours. This hike went well with no problems and the top was rather fun, the rocky knoll-cliffs offering a tiny challenge to get past.

Cedar Mountain

Elevation: 7,725 feet • Prominence: 861 feet • Distance: 2.1 miles • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 830 feet • Conditions: Cloudy, but some sun at the end

PBLoJUSGS BM Datasheet

We didn't drive far, less than a half mile south on the main road (FR-210 on the map, some other number in the field), then northwest up FR-211 as far as it went. It ended in a smallish canyon hemmed in by steep slopes and some rock formations and cliffs. We were about a half-mile on a straight line from the top, but a direct approach would not work, being too steep.

We walked south, up a side mini-canyon, then up onto its banks and the lower slopes of the mountain, making it up as we went along. The general plan was to swing south a bit, then when the slopes seemed to moderate, start straight up for the highest ridge. The peak has a typically-volcanic shape, with its crater facing south and two south-facing ridges hemming in the crater.

This we did, but whenever faced with an option to move laterally or go upward, we generally went upward. Thus, after a point, we were simply barging straight upslope. It was very steep and heavily vegetated, but mostly with open lanes and very few places where the brush closed in. The problem was the footing. The mountain is basically one massive heap of volcanic rubble, and often loose. The trickiest parts were where the rubble was barely covering a rocky slope. The moment any weight was placed on it, it would all slide downward. Getting up this slope was a chore, but otherwise, not difficult.

Once on the high ridge, the slope lessened to almost level. We had to walk the U-shaped summit ridge to its highest point, roughly halfway between the two main southern lobes. The brush was heavier toward the top, as were the trees, and the many former trees now lying on their sides. We weaved through the gauntlet and arrived on top, coming to a rockpile and a register hidden within it. We signed in and had a rest. The probable higher points were about 20 feet west, partly in the trees. The map says there is a benchmark here but we could not find it. Later, reading the the datasheet, it says the marker, as of 1965, is "not occupied".

Views from up top were limited due to the heavy forest. The sky was still full of low gray clouds, but we had no rain or any such thing on the hike. It was cool, in the mid 60s. Looking east, the big peaks were still socked in with clouds, but looking west, we could see blue patches. This front was starting to move through and break up.

Going down, we followed our route up, but then followed the southern slope farther down to take advantage of better slopes. We then had to cut across the lower slopes back to Matthias' vehicle, which we did with no problem. While on these lower slopes, the sun finally broke through and I got a couple nicer images of the peak. But the temperature also shot up a few degrees, but still very comfortable.

The hike took us about 90 minutes. Now, onto Peak 7312

Peak 7312
• Arizona State Trust Land

Elevation: 7,312 feet • Prominence: 652 feet • Distance: 1.6 miles • Time: 70 minutes • Gain: 655 feet • Conditions: Cloudy and sunny


We stayed on FR-210 southbound, to where it connects to a section-line road called Pine Street, this being the border of the Kaibab National Forest to the east and private homes and properties to the west. We followed Pine Street down to Spring Valley Road, then took that west to state route AZ-64. We then went north a couple miles on AZ-64 to Buck Mountain Road, north of a Shell gas station, south of Peak 7312, which sits astride the highway.

(Pro tip: Hoctor Road, which we passed while on Pine Street, goes all the way through to AZ-64. Had we known that, it would have cut off a few miles for us)

This area is a checkerboard of State Trust and private land. Peak 7312 lies mostly on a State Trust section, but we'd have to get around some homes first. We followed Buck Mountain Road to Stagecoach Road then to St. Francis Road, this last road going north. We drove until we were east of the peak, knowing that the land would be State Trust. We found a track and drove in, parking about a quarter-mile in, placing us about 0.6 mile from the summit. Like the other peaks, this would be a short but steep grind.

The skies had clouded up again, some looking like they may drop rain. We walked through the trees to get onto the lower slopes, which incrementally grew steeper until we were on the main east ridge. This went very well. The footing was a little better and there were lanes through the trees (mostly piñon, juniper, gambel oak). Then, suddenly, we were on top the thing. Matthias said it took us 32 minutes.

The top was a mush of low trees, grass, rocks, and branches. We found a register in a cairn, and like before, felt higher ground was nearby. We stepped on a few rocks and took a five minute break.

Going down, we followed our ascent route almost exactly. The sun started to break through and I got a few more photos. We were back to Matthias' vehicle in an hour. By now, it was about 2:30 p.m.. We were successful on three pretty cool peaks and felt happy with the haul. We had thought about exploring Howard Mesa, but it was late and we had a lot of driving to do.

We did, however, scout Peak 7348, which rises about three miles to the south. Along with its neighbor, Peak 7354, both are essentially twins, and both lie surrounded by private property. A very steep road goes up Peak 7348, but we got no farther than a gate with a "no trespassing" sign on it. Peak 7348's top is barren, but Peak 7354 has a huge house/mansion on it. Last I checked, it's on the realtor sites. But neither of us felt comfortable just driving up uninvited.

We drove back to Phoenix via Ash Fork, Chino Valley and Prescott, catching Interstate-17 at Cordes Junction. We were back to the Denny's by 5:30, another good day in the mountains, three more peaks for each of us.

For the music, Matthias played a lot of early Soft Machine, in honor of drummer John Marshall, who passed away earlier in the week.

(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. .