The Mountains of Arizona •
Government Mountain • San Francisco Volcanic Field
• Kaibab National Forest
• Coconino County

Government Mountain is to the left, smoke from the Slate Fire rises behind

Government Mountain

The historic Beale Road

What the plaque says

Lower slopes of Government Mountain

Higher slopes

Distinctive leaning dead tree as I near the top

South summit, northern summit rises behind

North summit

Hiking down, that leaning tree again

All images

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The Arizona
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Date: June 11, 2021 • Elevation: 8,350 feet • Prominence: 816 feet • Distance: 1.2 miles • Time: 75 minutes • Gain: 805 feet • Conditions: Sunny and very warm

ArizonaMainPBLoJInteractive map

Earlier today, I hiked three crater hills east of Flagstaff, starting with Maroon Crater. I was done with those three by 10 a.m., so I returned to my hotel and laid low, napping, watching TV and walking around the immediate area. I had planned to hike this peak, Government Mountain, later today, when the warmth of the afternoon started to lessen as the sun lowered in the West.

A little over three weeks ago, I hiked nearby Government Hill, which is about the same size and with similar metrics as Government Mountain. The two are separated by about four miles and I still don't know why one gets called Mountain and the other one Hill.

I left the hotel about 3:30, heading west on Interstate-40 to the Parks exit, then east along old US-66 to Government Prairie Road. This good road goes north through a town of scattered ranchette properties, then turns to good gravel and continuing north more past the Government Knolls. Smoke from the big Slate Fire rose to the north. I drove until I came to a T intersection (the forest road designations on the maps and in the field do not match). This intersection is immediately south of Government Mountain and has a stone historical marker mentioning that the old Beale Road passes through here. From the interstate to here was about 8 miles.

Like Government Hill, there seems to be no best way up the peak. I drove east to inspect ways up Government Mountain, but it all looked the same, with heavy forests and a lot of branching ridges that would be hard to navigate on the way down. I went west, and saw more of the same. In fact, the best way up was at the T-intersection itself. There were open patches on the hillside which would mean less-confusing navigation. It would be short and steep.

I started hiking about 4 p.m., the weather warm, in the low 80s, but not oppressive. In the forest, I had plenty of shade, and in the open areas, an occasional breeze. One large open area comes quickly, then a long stretch in the trees. There were a couple rock outcrops to use as navigation aids. Also, the higher I gained, I could look out and use the forest roads as references too.

Higher up, there is some branching of the ridges, so in a few key spots, I tied pink surveyor's ribbon to branches so I'd know which way to go on the descent. Toward the top, there is another open stretch, then a short push through light forest, then the southern of the two summit hills. The one-way hike had covered less than a mile with nearly 900 feet of gain. It was steep and laborious but uncomplicated. The south hilltop is bare and features a cairn and a sign-in register dating back just a few months. The north hilltop is in the trees and a few feet higher. I had to drop just twenty feet to a saddle, then up to the north hilltop. I snapped a couple images, then returned to the south hilltop to enter my name and take a short drink break. By now, the temperatures had dropped a few degrees and I had more breezes, and I was very comfortable.

The hike down went slowly, and the ribbons helped me in strategic spots. The downhill hike took a little less than 30 minutes and I was back to my car at 5:15 p.m., a 75-minute round trip hike. This was a calf-buster hike, but enjoyable with good views from the open areas. I was back to my hotel within an hour, where I cleaned up and went out for a bite.

(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.