The Mountains of Arizona

Peak 3460, the eastern peak and the one with the more extensive ruins

Walking up to the base of the cliffs

Now on the high ridge, the summit rock walls are visible

The summit walls

View north

These walls are taller than me!

View southeast

Peak 2809, the western peak

Circling around now

The trail to the top can be seen

The summit knoll

View north from the summit of Peak 2809

Looking down at some rock walls

An elevated view of the ruins. These aren't as extensive as on the east peak

View over at the east peak from the west peak

All images

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Cline Creek Hohokam Ruins

Peak 3460 (East Peak) • Peak 2809 (West Peak)

Two peaks rise north of New River, north of Phoenix. These two peaks lie on the Tonto National Forest, although at this elevation, there are no big trees; it's high-desert brush and cactus. Both peaks feature ancient (500+ years old) Hohokam Indian ruins, which is mainly what motivated me to come here. The peaks have no name, but Cline Creek runs through the area, and the name "Cline Creek Peak(s)", and variations thereof, are found online.

Today's high in the Phoenix area was supposed to be in the 70s, the first time since April it's been this low. A front was passing through, with lots of puffy clouds. The clouds could be thick at times to where there was no blue sky to be seen. Then ten minutes later, they'd break apart and let the sun through. The cloud gods ensured that whenever I was on the actual summit of both peaks, that the clouds would thicken so that I had weak lighting for photographs.

I was on the road about 6:45 a.m., planning to take the usual route, which is Loop-101 freeway north and west to Interstate-17, then north to Carefree Highway, where I would then branch off onto other roads toward New River. So I get onto the 101 & 17 overpass, and only then do I see a sign "ramp closed" and the ramp to northbound Interstate-17 is coned off. There were no warning signs beforehand, to where I could have bailed earlier. I was now committed to following southbound Interstate-17 to an exit, where I then had to follow surface roads northbound. A number of vehicles were caught in the same situation, so I am sure it wasn't just me that missed any early-warning notices. Thanks, ADOT, for not trying too hard.

For me, this whole diversion was just inconvenient and added at most ten minutes to my journey. I followed Cave Creek Road north to Carefree Highway, then west to 7th Street, and north to the New River area. I got onto Circle Mountain Road eastbound, then north on 20th Street, to its end at the Tonto National Forest boundary.

Peak 3460
• New River Foothills
• Tonto National Forest
• Maricopa County

Date: October 23, 2022 • Elevation: 3,460 feet • Prominence: 680 feet • Distance: 3.4 miles • Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes • Gain: 1,060 feet • Conditions: Cloudy and cool, some sun


The area is residential up to the boundary, but there is an opening (no gate), so I drove in just a few dozen feet, parking in a clearing. It thought this was better than parking along a residential street. It was about 8:15 now, temperature in the 60s, and very cloudy. My first peak, the eastern (and highest) of the two, rose about a mile and a half away, a big loaf-shaped mound with bands of cliffs.

I followed the road (FR 1659) north to where it bends east and drops into Cline Creek itself. The road was too rocky for my vehicle, but most high clearance vehicles with beefy tires should be fine when things are dry. Within the creek bed, the road splits and braids a number of times, so I followed what looked like the one most travelled (going by tire prints). Navigation wasn't a problem and I never once got off route. I passed Cline Well, and in about a half hour, had hiked to the southeast base of the mountain. A smaller rounded hill lies south of the main mountain mass. A lesser track branches northwest and rises to a saddle between this hill and the mountain.

The cliffs were a small concern at first but as I hiked closer, I could see some obvious breaches that looked friendly. I hiked to this road's end, and directly above was one breach, the closest to me. I left the road and started uphill through low brush and abundant rocks. I soon entered into this breach. The route steepened, and at times the rocks were loose, but the climbing wasn't difficult. Only once did I need my hands to hoist myself up a five-foot tall barrier. I angled left and followed a ramp past a large saguaro and was soon above the breach and the cliffs. The saguaro would serve as a visual marker for when I was coming back down.

The terrain sloped back nicely. Up here, there was more saguaro, palo verde, ocotillo, general brush, and way too many cholla. They were spaced out enough to avoid directly, but their bulbs were everywhere. I took every precaution to not get a bulb attached to me, but no such luck. They do what they want and I caught probably a dozen over the course of the hike. Otherwise, when not flicking cholla bulbs off my pants leg with my trekking poles, the hike uphill was straightforward and pleasant. I soon reached an apex, now on the high ridge with the summit about a quarter-mile away.

A weak trail picks up from here. The trail wasn't necessary since the way is obvious, but having a trail is always nice, since it helps avoid brush and cactus, and simply suggests someone's been this way before. As I got closer, the rock walls lining the summit became clearer. I entered onto the summit through a small breach in the walls. The walls surround the entire summit area, roughly a hundred feet long and 40 feet wide. The walls are impressive, two to three feet thick, generally about three feet tall but in some places pushing seven feet (i.e. taller than me). Inside this enclosure was a round room structure. I walked the entire area, which didn't take long.

These walls weren't a sloppy pile of rocks at its angle of repose, but well-formed and expertly fitted together. Corners where the walls took a turn still had a sharp right angle to them. The walls were vertical. Smaller stones were chocked in between the bigger ones to lend strength and stability. There must have been tens of thousands of large rocks in these walls. I doubt all these rocks were simply lying about on the summit before the Indians started building these structures. I am sure many had to be transported up from the lower slopes. It must have taken a long time to assemble these walls. This all appears to be a defensive position and an observation perch, one of a string that include the ones on the west peak (which I would visit a couple hours later) and another on Elephant Mountain to the east. The walls do show some decay from the centuries, but they still look very good for their age, a fascinating tangible connection to these ancient cultures.

I spent about fifteen minutes up top. Past the northern wall, I saw a rock cairn with a mailbox jutting out of it. I pulled out the log book and signed in, the first in over six months. This mailbox register is identified as a geocache, but it did not have the usual geocache collection of toys and trinkets, just a log book. Pages went back over 30 years. Yay, I logged a geocache too! I also took time to snap a few lousy images of everything, all grayed out due to the heavy clouds.

I inched down the same route as I took coming up, and was soon back onto the Jeep tracks. Only now did the sun pop out, allowing me to take some decent images. I then heard an engine and saw a Polaris coming at me. I pulled to the side and the guy stopped. He was scouting for deer. We had a short chat and I told him I had just visited the ruins. He's a local and said he's been up there too. He then got moving again and I resumed my walk out. The overall distance for this hike wasn't much, about 3.4 miles by my reckoning. I was back to my car at 10:30, a two-hour, fifteen-minute hike with a tad over a thousand feet of gain.

Peak 2809

Elevation: 2,809 feet • Prominence: 389 feet • Distance: 4.2 miles • Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes • Gain: 800 feet (gross) • Conditions: Cloudy but more sun


I drove out 20th Street back to Circle Mountain Road, then north on 12th Street to its end at the forest boundary. There is a gate here but it is dummy locked. I opened it and drove through, but again only got so far, about 200 feet, before parking in a clearing. Like before, a sturdier vehicle could drive in farther.

I was on FR-53. I started walking and quickly, FR-53 branched to the right (east) and down into a drainage. I didn't go that way but it looked rough, a strong 4-wheel drive vehicle would be necessary. Instead, I continued northish, the road braiding with other roads. And like before, I picked the one that looked most used, and hoped for the best. The farther in I hiked, the less braiding of the road. The pointed peak of Peak 2809 rose above, a rocky caprock making me wonder if I can actually get to its top. The hike along the road was easy and not that exciting. It passes through one section of man-high cholla. Imagine trying to push through that. You'd be caught in it forever, screaming in pain.

The road I was on (it has no number I am aware of) inched closer to the peak, trending right of it. Then it dropped into a drainage, losing about 60 feet overall. In the drainage, it reconnects with FR-53. I went left, ascending out of the drainage. Once back up on higher land, FR-53 then branches away again, this time going left (west). I was now at Peak 2809. I could throw a rock onto its slope from where I stood.

I walked north along the road to where it curled west, aiming for a lower hill northeast of the peak. The road ascends to this smaller hill's top, and is extremely steep, with small loose pebbles atop the hardpack, like ball bearings. The road then drops to the saddle connecting the lower hill to the main mountain. Meanwhile, there was some guy shooting a rifle somewhere to the east of me. Just two shots about five minutes apart, the echo lasting for a few seconds. It was very loud and caught me by surprise.

From this angle, the slopes to the top didn't look so severe, and I could even make out some of the rock structures. The road ends at the saddle, but a steep trail picks up from here, marching uphill to the lower ruins. These ruins aren't as fancy as the ones over on the east peak, but still are interesting. They consist of low walls and a few enclosures.

The summit is atop the rock outcrop, from below about a 40-foot scamper up rock slopes and ledges. I moved slowly and came upon an impressive nook in the rocks, the stone walls about 7 feet high, all this to enclose a space about 5 feet by 5 feet. These walls were in great shape and looked like they were put up last month. The top was just a few feet higher, a small perch with a lovely large rock, perfect for sitting, probably the best sitting rock in the state. I'd hike this peak all over again just to sit on this rock.

Looking down from the summit, there were more stone walls, each appearing to be small fortifications for the sentries. This summit isn't that big, so it cannot hold a large fortification. I spent a few minutes up top, the sun blocked again by clouds. There was a breeze that kept things cool.

I scooted down the rocks back to the lower ruins. I got about another 50 feet down then turned back because I wanted a photo of the rocky knoll. There was blue sky to the west and the clouds were moving quickly to the east. The sun will be out any moment, I thought. But it didn't. It seemed as soon as it was to appear from behind a cloud, a smaller wispy cloud would form to block it again. I waited for five minutes. Finally, lighting was good enough for an image. I also quickly snapped a couple more of the surrounding countryside before the clouds closed up again.

The hike back to my car went well. The hike down the upper road went slow because it was so easy to slip, but I somehow didn't. The rest of the walk was just walking. There were dirt-bikers now, and a couple casual walkers from the nearby neighborhood. This hike took about 90 minutes, covering a little over 4 miles. It was 1 p.m. back at the car. I vegged a bit, then changed, and drove home.

I only learned of these ruins recently and saved hiking to them until the summer heat abated. Today went well and I enjoyed standing amid these old ruins. I wish it had been sunnier, that is all. These ruins are not easy to get to without some effort and a small amount of bravery to handle the steeper scrambles, enough to ward off the laziest of ne'er-do-wells. Once this far in, it's mainly hunters and the occasional hiker who's into these sorts of things.

(c) 2022 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. .