The Mountains of Arizona
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Peak 5901


Crisp lighting as I start my walk toward Peak 5901
 

About halfway, the rise ahead is the summit area
 

That's the actual summit
 

The top, generally speaking
 

This tree served as the summit marker

Peak 6219


Peak 6219 as seen walking out from Peak 5901
 

Approaching Peak 6219's top, about halfway up the slope
 

Top is close
 

Summit cairn
 

Another nearby cairn. In back is Carol Spring Mountain
 

View west, Haystack Butte
 

Looking down into the Chrysotile Mine, canyon and old ghost town, and the cliffs of the Salt River Gorge in back. Peak 5901 is the forested rise to the right of the cliffs
 

All images

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Chrysotile & Seneca Area Peaks

Peak 5901 • Peak 6219

I had some appointments in Phoenix on the 8th, and with not a whole lot going on anyway, built in an extra day to do some hiking and exploring before heading back to Bisbee. My original plan was to head to the Pinaleño Mountains, but a look on the forest service sites showed that the upper dirt road had just opened but was still muddy with all the snow still up there.

Instead, I looked over toward Globe and the US-60 corridor that heads north out of the city. This has always been a dependable area for peakbagging, with good roads and many peaks to choose from. I was last here the previous September. I wanted to check out two peaks near the old ghost town of Chrysotile, near the Salt River Gorge. The two peaks, Peak 5901 and Peak 6219 (neither have an official name) did not look too difficult nor very interesting for that matter, but it was the area I wanted to explore.

I was done with my appointments by 3 p.m., so I headed east and was in Globe about 5 p.m., where I stopped for groceries. I'd be camping out tonight. I followed US-60 north (technically, "east") and about 30 miles later, was topping out in the hills that front the Salt River Gorge. I drove to the Seneca turnoff and drove through the abandoned buildings, this being on the San Carlos Indian Reservation. I passed Seneca Lake, then crossed a fenceline at a cattle grate, off the reservation and back on Tonto National Forest lands.

The road was good but a little rough, so I went slow. A quarter-mile past the cattle grate, I turned north onto another road, driving in just a few hundred yards and backing in to a nifty camping space. The forest here is a mix of pines, junipers, oaks and woody underbrush, and very pretty. I was near the actual gorge, and the surrounding hills were a mix of forest and cliffs, attesting to the geology of the area.

I walked the road north about a half mile, thinking it would come up to the lip of the gorge then have a thousand-foot cliff below me, but right where I was, it didn't do that. The land slowly descended and being late and me in sandals, I did not get very far. I walked back to my car and just sat there, having a dinner and exploring the immediate area. I went to "bed" (my front seat leaned all the way back) when it got dark, and awoke at first light, 4:45 a.m.. It had been a mild night, temperatures in the 40s. It had also been a new moon, and with no clouds and dry conditions, I had incredible views of the starry night sky.

I let the sun rise some more, and exited about 5:30 a.m., driving back to the buildings at Seneca. I stopped to walk around and look into a few of them. In the early 1970s, the San Carlos Nation tried to develop the area as a tourist destination, with campgrounds, a lake for simple boating and fishing, a gas station, convenience store and other buildings. But the whole operation lasted for just a few years and was shut down, the buildings simply abandoned.

These days, the buildings are trashed, the insides nothing but wood, drywall, wires, nails, glass and crud. I did not dare go inside any of them. The exteriors are crumbling and derelict, but the talented graffiti artists haven't come here to color it up. Instead, just the occasional ne'er-do-well with a spray can comes by.

The area is quite pretty and I wonder why it did not work out. Maybe it was the era, the 1970s, when the population was much smaller than it is today. Based on what I have read, the San Carlos wanted to go all out, and they simply may have over-reached. It seems to me that if they were to try again and develop it humbly, for example, just for camping and rowboats, and have a small gas/convenience mart, it might work out.

I didn't spend too long walking the buildings, maybe ten minutes. I had to watch my steps because there were boards with nails sticking up all over the place, as well as glass everywhere.

Seneca Lake and Buildings


Seneca Lake

My camp

Building

Close up
 

Derelict

Goofy

Run down

Wind & ghosts

Peak 5901
• Chrysotile Canyon/Salt River Gorge
• Tonto National Forest
• Gila County

Date: May 9, 2024 • Elevation: 5,901 feet • Prominence: 321 feet • Distance: 5.5 miles • Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes • Gain: 600 feet (gross) • Conditions: Beautiful blue skies, cool, calm

ArizonaMainPBLoJ

I got back on the highway and travelled south (technically "west") about three miles, leaving the highway at its highest point, now on FR-304. The road goes up an embankment to meet with a very old paved road that may have been the actual highway many decades ago, but now is a simple frontage road. I went right, and momentarily, FR-304 went left, this being the road down into Chrysotile, the old mine and ghost town. I stayed straight, now on FR-897.

This road was tolerable as long as I went slow. There were potholes and parts where the pavement had sloughed downhill. I went a little under a mile on this road, as it curls below Hill 5892. I stayed right at a Y-split, then parked at a tight bend where the road was simply too rough for my car. I was beside the highway, but about thirty feet up an embankment and shielded by trees, so no one would ever see the car. I got my stuff together and started walking a shade after 6 a.m..

I followed a track uphill to meet with FR-897 again. Apparently, at that earlier Y-split, a left would have kept me on FR-897. It did not matter because my car likely would not have handled that road well. I walked the road as it trended generally northwest, losing about 140 feet in a half mile to bottom out at White Tank. There are actually two tanks here, another one about a five minute walk northwest. The road was marginal. Rocks weren't a problem, but ruts, cambering and an uneven tread that would require high clearance, 4-wheel drive nice to have. It was dry today, but I could see parts that looked like big mudbogs. When wet, this road would be impassable.

I simply walked the road another mile and a half, the tread great for walking. The gradients were gentle and often level. I crossed a gate about halfway in, and in about 40 minutes, had situated myself at a bend in the road nearest the summit of this peak, which is really just a long ridge, its south-facing cliffs overlooking Chrysotile.

I left the road and started uphill through the piñon and juniper. The undergrowth was light, just low grass and some cactus, mainly hedgehog and prickly-pear. I had about a quarter-mile to the top, a gain of about 180 feet. I was soon on the top, but where the highest point was, I could not be sure.

The top is forested but open and easy to navigate. I walked along one axis until it started to drop, then returned and walked the other way, spending about 15 minutes walking the entire area. I thought I might see a cairn somewhere, evidence of a past visitor, but I never saw anything. I felt confident I had narrowed down the highpoint to a fifty-foot radius, kicking any high rocks that looked promising.

Unfortunately, I was too far removed from the cliffs for good views, but as I descended, I had nice views of the mesas and higher cliffs of the Salt River Gorge a few miles distant. The weather was holding steady, now in the 50s, clear and calm. It had talken me an hour to get here, covering 2.7 miles one way. The exit took about the same amount of time, and I was back to my car a little after 8 a.m..

This wasn't much of a peak, but I enjoyed the walk very much and appreciated that the off-trail segment was easy, not overly brushy.

Peak 6219

Elevation: 6,219 feet • Prominence: 315 feet • Distance: 1.8 miles • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 550 feet (gross) • Conditions: Same

PBLoJ

Back at the car, I didn't have to drive far, less than a mile, to the junction with FR-304. There's a nice big cleared area here to park, a staging area for the off-roaders. Today, it was just me ... and a big pickup pulling a horse trailer with a horse in it. The driver actually went in a little on FR-304, so I bided my time to let him pass, then started my walk.

This would be a short hike, a straight-shot up the east rudge to the top. Like on Peak 5901, the forest here was mostly lower trees, junipers, piñon, oaks and a little brushier down low, but I was usually able to find lanes if I zig-zagged enough.

The lower segment is a gentle incline up to a smaller hilltop, elevation about 6,020 feet. The higher I got, the rockier the terrain. The rocks were often big and flush to the ground to where I could walk on them like a sidewalk. Once on top of the 6,020-foot nubbin, I could see the summit up ahead, and more cliff bands and tiers. It looked brushier too.

I dropped about 30 feet and pushed through one moderate tangle of manzanita, then started uphill again. Those cliffs were big rocks, usually with 6-foot tall faces. I usually walked around them but that meant more brush, so this portion went a little slower. I never needed to use my hands on the rocks, though. My hands were used to push through the brush instead.

In about twenty minutes I was on top of Peak 6219. I came to a cairn and a register, signing in, the first since Bob Packard in 2012. Just a few names were in the log, going back to the 1990s. I did not feel this was the highpoint. I walked around the summit area and tagged a few more rocks. I also found another cairn.

There is a great overlook, a big rock outcrop forming a cliff with no brush, with an excellemt view down into Chrysotile. I could see the white main tailings way down below, and the cliffs overlooking the canyon, with Peak 5901 to the right of one substantial cliff.

Chrysotile is the mineral name for asbestos, and there were a few such mines here in the early part of the 20th Century. Apparently, this area had some of the best chrysotile deposits in the country. There was a town of Chrysotile down below, but the mines and the town have been obsolete since about World War II. This was well before people knew about the harm that asbestos causes.

I hiked down the same way, mainly keeping to open lanes. I ended up dropping down to FR-304 directly, about five hundred feet from my car. I had been gone 90 minutes, covering just under two miles.

From a distance, and even up close, this does not look like much of a peak, but I enjoyed the short hike and the interesting rocky geology of this hill, and the views once at the top. It's worth the short side trip if travelling through the area.

It was just 10 a.m. now, so I descended down US-60 toward my third peak, Peak 5038 "Reservation Tank Peak" about twenty miles away.

(c) 2024 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.