The Mountains of Arizona •
Date Creek Mountain • Highpoint: Date Creek Mountains
• Arizona State Trust Lands
• Yavapai County

Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
Date Creek Mountain
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
I had five minutes of sunlight, so I snapped this image
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
Big rocks in the canyon
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
Atop the ridges now, the summit is still way far away
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
Nearing the summit area, but the highest point is not yet visible
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
Finally, the summit boulders are visible
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
The summit blocks
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
Summit, looking east toward the Weaver Mountains
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
Hiking down, a view from below
Date Creek Mountain, Arizona
That lower ridge I ascended at first, then had to descend

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Date: October 8, 2021 • Elevation: 4,940 feet • Prominence: 1,580 feet • Distance: 8 miles • Time: 5 hours • Gain: 2,020 feet • Conditions: Cloudy, overcast, warm and a little humid

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The Date Creek Mountains lie north of the town of Congress, about fifteen miles northwest of Wickenburg. I was here two weeks ago to hike Yarnell Hill and decided then to come back soon and visit the Date Creeks. The range is small and very rocky, with a couple peaks of high prominence, including the range highpoint, which has no name, just going by its range eponym.

I planned to make this an overnight, hiking this peak today and Crosby Mountain tomorrow. I could get two peaks for the cost of most of one tank of gas. The weather was cooling down so that an overnight camp was feasible. I got my car packed and left at 5 a.m. this morning (Friday). Traffic was moderate through Phoenix, then much less so as I drove northbound on US-93. I topped the tank in Wickenburg and bought some drinks and snacks.

From Wickenburg, I stayed on US-93 a few more miles, then merged onto AZ-89 for ten miles to Congress, then AZ-71 a couple miles westbound. I followed the driving directions given by Paul McClellan at peakbagger. I got in about two miles off of AZ-71, parking a little before the "turn left at 2.4 miles" in his directions. There was a deep rut in the road that could have stopped my car and I did not want to take that chance. I was 1.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon, close enough to easily walk the rest.

I locked everything up and started walking at 7:30 a.m., the day cloudy and overcast. The air temperature was in the mid-70s, which was warm for this time of morning. Forecast highs said it would be about 90° in Wickenburg today. It would be warm, but not hot. Nevertheless, I wanted as early a start as possible to take advantage of any cooler weather that I could.

I covered the 1.5 miles of road to the mouth of the canyon in about a half hour, moving quickly. The sun popped out for a few minutes during this segment, so I snapped a couple images. It would be the only direct sun for the day. The road to here was good, except for the couple of ruts farther back.

The road continues north through the main canyon splitting the range. The road herein is in terrible condition, with steep grades, bad ruts, bad leans, exposed bedrock and all that fun stuff. For walking, it wasn't very good either, but it was better than pushing through the brush and rocks. I walked in about another mile. It was warm and a little humid and I was sweating through my shirt already.

I left the road and started up the steep slopes of the mountain mass. The slopes were rocky and brushy but mostly open, so that finding lanes was easy. Higher up, the grade steepened, the brush thickened and the rocks became larger, more abundant and jumbled. I was able to get through this maze and was soon (about 45 minutes) on top the range crest, proud of myself for being so quick. I was sure the summit was close by. I hiked up until I achieved a local highpoint and only then saw the main summit ridge, about a mile to the north and a few hundred feet higher. I had climbed a subridge marked by a spot elevation of 4,539 feet. I was annoyed with myself. But since I was already atop this ridge, there was no reason to abandon it.

I had to descend about 200 feet to a saddle connecting this ridge to the main summit ridge. The slopes here were gentle and the rocks laying down. It was brushy, but overall, the hiking here was not a challenge. So I let my mind wander and the next thing I know, I'm tumbling to my left off a sloping rock, falling toward another couple of large rocks. I had stepped on a round pebble and it just gave out from under me, and I was falling before I could arrest it. So I fell. I was able to break the fall with my hands and legs. but my left side took the brunt of it. I had scratches and all sorts of "rock rash" on my legs and left arm (despite wearing long pants and sleeves). My left hand got scratched up pretty bad. But that was it. I wasn't injured otherwise, and knew I was lucky to not be hurt more. I got up, cleaned up, and cussed at myself for a moment to get my head straight again.

The hike from the ridge lowpoint to the summit basically followed the high ridges, point to point, dropping down only when necessary. In spots, I had open slopes and easy gradients, and in other segments, heavy brush and rocks, sometimes forcing me to backtrack to avoid cliffs or voids. I was able to weave through all this, and after what felt like another hour, I had finally surmounted the main summit area, itself a small ridge covered over in massive rock outcrops.

I had Scott Peavy's photos with me, so I knew what to look for. Identifying the highpoint rock outcrops wasn't difficult, but I did not want to waste time looking for others. So I knew exactly what to aim for. I found the summit outcrop, the rocks about 40 feet higher than where I stood.

I hiked up a little, then stowed my poles and pack, and clambered up the rocks a little more, to place me directly below the summit rock itself. It is a big rounded granitic rock lying atop more rocks. Two more massive rocks lie west of this summit rock, forming a rough "V" shape. These are lower than the highpoint by a foot or two. I maneuvered until I was between the summit rock and one of the other big rocks, separated by a foot-wide gap. With Scott's photos, I knew what I needed to do. Still, I wanted to study the rocks and holds and see what I was in for.

I tried to climb the summit rock directly. It has a few ledges formed by where some of the rock is flaking off, and when I grabbed at one, I pulled it right off. It was a small flake, about 20 pounds. This concerned me, since I am not the lightest person ever. So I faced the other way, back to the summit rock. I stepped up onto the other big rock and using friction, inched up the summit rock backwards on my butt. This worked well. I was on top the summit rock. I leaned back and gave the highest point a slap, but did not want to stand, because I liked where my feet were and I wanted to be able to get down safely. I got back down.

I still wanted to see if there were other ways up, so I spent about ten minutes exploring the rocks. One of the lower rocks forms a massive void with the yet-lower rocks. This is one way up to where I had stood, but I chose not to go beneath. Something about being under hundreds of tons of granite kind of scares me.

Back at that gap. I tried something different. I was able to inch out over a ledge, using holds on the summit rock to keep me stabilized. The ledge had about 6 inches of room, then about fifteen feet of air below. I was able to position myself abeam of the highpoint. I then carefully inched up the summit rock this way about a foot, and once again, leaned in to slap the highpoint. I had hoped I could get all the way up, but was happy to slap the top (twice). This ledge option may not work for everyone. I am tall and my long arms came in handy here. I figured I had pressed my luck enough already. I did not stand atop the summit rock, but my germs are on it. This was fun, a chance to problem-solve in the field.

I got back down to my pack and poles and took a food and water break. It had taken me about three hours to get here. It was still mostly cloudy and a little sultry, but to be honest, I was a little relieved the sun was hidden. It knocked the temperatures down about ten degrees and given all the extra energy I was expending, a warm sun was not what I needed right about now.

For the hike down, I went down the east slopes directly, no intention to repeat my ascent route. I generally swung right (as I was facing down), easing down into a drainage. The brush and rocks weren't a problem, nothing worse than what I had coming up. With gravity to assist, I was able to get all the way down back to the road with just one break, mainly to tie my shoe. Once back on the road, I walked it all the way back to my car. I was back at 12:30 p.m., a five-hour hike. I was tired and beat, and a little sore given my scratches from the fall.

Although I ascended the wrong ridge, I don't think it added a lot of extra mileage or time to my hike. I was annoyed for following this route, but at the time, it looked promising. What I should have done was stay on the road another mile, then bust up the slopes. For reference, there is a wire gate along the way. I had started up the slopes a little before this gate. Instead, you should stay on the road past the gate, go another half mile or so, then ease left onto a secondary track, then start up the slopes.

I drove back into Congress and got more supplies at the gas station in town, then some non-perishables over at the Family Dollar next door. Crosby Mountain, about 30 miles north of here, was next, but I would not hike it today. Instead, I took a look at Peak 4449 in the Poachie Range (see Greenwood Peak). Driving up US-93, I hit rain for about an hour. This dampened (pun intended) my motivation to hike 4449. Instead, I found a spot off of 17-Mile Road and set myself up for the night. I would have a simple cot-camp in the open. As the sun set, the clouds cleared and I was treated to a beautiful sunset and a mostly-starry night, with temperatures in the 50s. Tomorrow, I would hike Crosby Mountain.

(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.