The Mountains of Arizona

Peak 4650, or what I dubbed "Heifer Pasture Peak"

This is the official Heifer Pasture Windmill as identified on the map

Now on the slopes below the top

Followed cow paths much of the way. Yay cows.

Summit, slight glare into the sun

Summit rocks

Estler Pek (left) and Peak 4359 (right), as seen from atop Heifer Pasture Peak, and the big Bradshaw Mountains in back

Estler Peak, my next objective

Suddenly, I'm on top of Estler Peak

Descending Estler Peak. In the distance is Peak 4359, and my vehicle below

Peak 4359

At its base now

The flat top

Estler Peak views and the benchmark

All images

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Dugas Road Peaks

Peak 4650 "Heifer Pasture Peak" • Estler Peak • Peak 4359

These three peaks lie close by one another on the elevated "Yavapai" plateau over which Interstate-17 passes between Phoenix and Camp Verde. They lie east of the interstate at the Dugas Road exit. Dugas Road gets close to all three peaks. I did not expect much hiking today, and overall, I hiked 5 miles to tag three peaks.

I was driving to Flagstaff, and I got an early start this Friday morning to beat the traffic. I was on the road about 5:45 a.m., the sky still dark, traffic not too bad. I got onto Northbound Interstate-17, and at about the Table Mesa Exit, a State Trooper got on my left rear and stayed with me. I was going 70, so I was slightly below the speed limit. I got that bad feeling something was up. Sure enough, he then got in behind me and turned on his lights. I exited the freeway and pulled into a shoulder off Table Mesa Road.

Turns out my rear driver's side tail-light was out. He also dinged me for a crack in my windshield. It's been years since I was pulled over for any reason, not counting Border Patrol. Anyway, he told me to get the tail-light fixed and wrote me a fix-it ticket. All was well.

Heifer Pasture Peak • Peak 4650
• Prescott National Forest
• Yavapai County

Date: March 25, 2022 • Elevation: 4,650 feet • Prominence: 370 feet • Distance: 2.6 mile • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 670 feet • Conditions: Clear and warm


I drove up onto the higher plateau and exited at Dugas Road. I planned to hike these three from east to west, the longest one first. I overshot the lesser forest track (FR-9250) that goes north to the first peak, but I fixed my error and drove back. The road was better than I expected. I drove in about a mile, past a gate, and parked when the road got too rough.

It was nearly 8 a.m. when I finally got moving. The sky was clear with no clouds and a very intense sun, even at this early hour. The air temperature was about 60 degrees F, but with no breeze and the intense sun, it was downright hot, especially for late March. This was going to be a little rougher than I had planned for.

I parked just below a small rise which meant about a 60-foot gain, and then about the same downhill, where the road bends right, the peak directly ahead. The road passes another gate, and soon I was at the Heifer Pasture Windmill, as it is cited on the map. I use that name for this peak.

The road continues east and eventually curls north around the mountain, but I wanted a more direct approach, so I angled left and soon came upon an excellent cow path that led uphill at an angle, almost a perfect line to a higher saddle. The path helped a lot, and again impressed me with the trail-building abilities of cows.

From this higher saddle, I continued up easy slopes to the higher ridge, and then a right turn and on to the summit. I was moving slow and made the one-way hike in about 40 minutes. It was still warm with no breeze. The top is rocky with moderate cliffs to the south and east. Looking west at Peak 4642, it is lower than where I stood. I found a cairn but no register. I stayed up top for about 5 minutes. I snapped a few images, then started down.

The outbound hike took about as long as the inbound. I was back to the car after 90 minutes. This was a nice peak. Easy to get to with easy lines and good views. More people should visit it. As I drove out, the car's thermometer said it was 80 degrees outside. In those 90 minutes, the temperature had shot up 20 degrees.

My next objective, Estler Mountain, was close by. I was there in a matter of minutes.

Estler Peak

Elevation: 4,263 feet • Prominence: 213 feet • Distance: 0.4 miles • Time: 25 minutes • Gain: 213 feet • Conditions: Warmer

LoJUSGS BM Datasheet

Estler Peak has the lowest prominence of today's three peaks, but it is the most interesting to view. From the east, it has cliffs covered in green lichen (?) or possibly a mineral. The top is rocky with two distinct peaklets. I parked at a rise in the road opposite the peak, on its northwest side. There is another road that gets partway up the peak, but today, it was taken over by a handful of massive RVs.

I simply walked uphill until I was on top. The slope was gentle and I was able to follow paths most of the way. At the top, I scrambled about 10 feet up very easy rocks, worked around a big juniper and was soon on the rocky summit. A wooden cross is held up by rocks, and I found the "Spring" benchmark underneath a bush. I did not find a register.

I did not stay long here either. I snapped a couple more images, then started down. I was back to the car, round-trip time under a half hour. Not a bad little peak. It's close to the interstate and could be an excuse to take a break from driving. I would not have driven all this way for just this one peak, but combined with others nearby, it was worth the journey.

And yeah, it was warmer now. Into the low-mid 80s now. Not so hot to completely shut things down, but hot enough to slow me and also pay extra attention for snakes. The grass and brush was spaced out enough so that I could see clearly. I did not see any serpents.

Peak 4359

Elevation: 4,359 feet • Prominence: 309 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 480 feet • Conditions: Hot by now, ugh


Back to my car, I thought about hiking directly to Peak 4359 from where I was parked, but there is an arroyo that runs through and would mean some brushy bush-whacking to get past. Instead, I drove Dugas Road west a little, to where the road achieves an apex south of Peak 4359. There is a gate here. I was about a mile from the peak, close enough to walk it easily.

The gate is dummy locked. I entered and walked up a road, angling northeast, then back northwest. It aimed for a set of power lines, then kept heading toward the peak. Even though it meandered, I stuck to the road as far as it would go to reduce the time needed to be walking through the grass.

The road devolves into an overgrown track, then just faint tracks in the grass, then nothing. By now. I was on the lower slopes of this peak, which is just a simple dome-shaped mass. The grass here was thicker, to where I couldn't always see my feet. Prickly-pear cactus was spaced out. There were no trees of any size and relatively little brush. Just the grass and cactus.

It was very warm now, and I was moving slowly. I walked up the hill, putting one foot in front of the other, until I was up top. The last 50 vertical feet was through some interesting low rock barriers. At least it broke up the monotony.

The summit is flat, brushy, rocky and grassy, and even a tree or two, but nothing big. I found four or five cairns that could be the highest point. I tagged them all and looked around. It wasn't that exciting. I could hear the vehicles, especially the trucks engine-braking, on Interstate-17 just a couple miles west.

I descended the same way, going slow and keeping an eye our for snakes. It was in the mid-80s by now. The direct sun made it feel ten degrees warmer. The round trip took me about 90 minutes, covering two miles.

Back at the car, I changed out of my hiking clothes and into more comfortable driving clothes. I drove into Flagstaff and with time to burn, drove to the Subaru dealership to see about getting my rear taillight bulb replaced. They were able to do it in 15 minutes for free! That was really fast and a nice surprise.

I did a shopping run and spent an enjoyable weekend in Flagstaff, the first mild weekend in months. In the Phoenix area, temperatures reached the mid-90s, which is rare but not unheard of for late March. I am not eager for the desert summer heat.

(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. .