The Mountains of Arizona •
Hickey Mountain • Black Hills
• Prescott National Forest
• Yavapai County

Hickey Mountain, Arizona
Not Hickey Mountain yet, but the first slopes I needed to climb to get to the peak
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
Hickey Mountain in the distance
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
Big juniper
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
Ridge narrows, summit up ahead
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
Almost there, a hawk circles above
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
Summit rocks looking north
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
"MHS" was here in 1917
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
View north at Woodchute Mountain and Humphreys Peak way in back
Hickey Mountain, Arizona
A Subaru Forester yin and yang

All images

• • •

The Arizona
Mountains Gazetteer

Click to find out more!

Date: April 9, 2023 • Elevation: 7,619 feet • Prominence: 499 feet • Distance: 4.8 miles • Time: 3 hours • Gain: 460 feet (net), 620 feet (gross) • Conditions: Clear and pleasant

ArizonaMainPBLoJUSGS BM Datasheet

Hickey Mountain is a ridge-shaped peak rising southwest of Woodchute Mountain in the Black Hills northeast of Prescott. The hike to the peak begins at the same trailhead as for a hike to Woodchute Mountain. I hiked Woodchute Mountain almost exactly 18 years ago, and this would be my first time to this trailhead since then.

I did not plan to hike this peak today. My goals were more humble, intending to hike to Copper Mountain, a peak east of Mayer, the first town one comes to driving from Interstate-17 toward Prescott on highway AZ-69. I had a couple more nearby ranked peaks on the agenda. I wanted to keep it all close together: bag two or three peaks in a ten-mile radius, then head back to Phoenix.

I was on the road before dawn, timing it so I was above the steep grade north of Black Canyon City while still dark. They're blasting out the mountainside here to widen the interstate, so traffic is often affected. I figured pre-dawn on a Sunday Easter holiday would enhance my chances of not being caught up in traffic delays.

I rolled into Mayer while still mostly dark, the sun just now rising but still blocked by the mountains to the east. I got in about 50 feet off the highway on Copper Mountain Road and stopped. The road passes through Big Bug Creek, which was flowing heavily today. That immediately cancelled any attempt at Copper Mountain.

Suddenly, my whole raison-d'être for being here was gone. The nearby peaks I had planned for as add-ons weren't by themselves anything that interested me. But I didn't want to return home. I figure I've come this far, I may as well look for something in the region that's been on my want list for awhile, but due to distance, has not been a priority to do.

I pulled into a small gas station and looked on my android for ideas. I immediately zeroed in on Hickey Mountain. Now would be as good a time to visit it as any other. So Hickley it now is. I get onto the highway and my tire-pressure light goes on. Bah. The car handled okay so it was likely a slow leak. I pulled into a gas station a few miles later in Dewey-Humboldt. One tire was pretty low, all of them were kind of low, so I spent five minutes at an air pump filling them with air.

I followed AZ-69 to the bypass route through Prescott Valley that connects to AZ-89-A, but I turned early onto US-89, which goes northeast into the Black Hills and eventually down through Jerome, Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. It's a very scenic drive. I drove in about 15 miles to where it tops out on the main range crest. There was still a lot of snow on the hillsides, snowline about 6,500 feet. At the pass, I turned onto the road to Potato Patch Campground.

The campground is closed, but a road branches left to a trailhead. The road continues past this first trailhead about a half-mile to the main Woodchute Trailhead. The road continues even more, but I chose to park at this bigger trailhead. I'd only save a quarter-mile had I drove farther.

I was suited up and walking at 7:55 a.m.. I was the only person at the trailhead for now. It was a clear morning and cool but mild, definitely not cold. I had on a flannel shirt which I took off after just a few minutes. I walked past a few campers, then came to a gate, which is about as far as most vehicles can get. Beyond this gate, the road gets much rougher and only vehicles with high clearance with beefy tires can proceed. There were a couple more camping groups back here. The road was easy to walk, just rocky and also muddy in spots. Some ruts were a foot deep, some lowpoints in the road still held small ponds of water and soft mud.

I walked this road/track (marked FR-106) about another half-mile west, or a mile from my car. The road braids often and I would get confused which one to follow, but they always converged again. I passed Hickey Tank along the way and the last of the camping groups. Ahead is a road junction, a left veering more toward the peak, a straight going toward the west edge of the mountain. I stayed straight, placing me at the base of the long ridge to the summit, a little over a mile to the south.

I left the road and started into the trees, which for now were spaced out far apart. There was still plenty of snow on the hillside, and between the patches, soft mud. It looked like normal moist ground, but stepping into it, my boot would go in a few inches and mud would collect on the soles. I got up this hill and once above it, had almost no snow to deal with, just the odd patch in the shade that I could easily avoid.

The gradients were very lenient. I walked uphill and topped out on a small rise, Hickey Mountain now in view. I dropped about 40 feet to a saddle, then continued generally southbound up the gentle slopes. The trees were much more dense here. Although navigation was very easy and logical, I would tie a surveyor ribbon to a branch at strategic points in case I started wandering down a ridge I didn't want to be on while exiting.

I topped out on another broad hilltop, dropped 40 feet into another saddle, then uphill to a big rock outcrop. I was now on the home stretch, the trees thinning here allowing for better views. The ridge narrows and there was a rock outcrop every hundred yards or so. On the last leg, it was much more brushier, but with better views too. I arrived onto the summit about 75 minutes after starting, a 2.4-mile hike with about 500 feet of gain.

The top is a jumble of rocks and brush. I found the highpoint and a tiny register placed here by Bob Burd last October. I was the first person to sign in after him. The map says there is a Benchmark "Westedge" here but I could not find it. There were heaps of rocks and it's possible it's under one such heap. I checked out a couple more rock outcrops, one with an etching from a hiker named "MHS" from 1917. It was more than simple scratchings into the rock. The "1917" had grooves about a quarter-inch deep, requiring a chisel. Maybe that's what people carried back then.

The views up here were outstanding. Humphreys Peak rose north, covered in snow. Woodchute Mountain rose just across the way, its long plateau summit easily visible. It brought back memories of trying to locate the actual highest point on that peak. Looking southwest, Mount Union also had snow on its highest ridges. It was sunny and calm, temperatures in the 60s. I spent about twenty minutes up here, vegging.

For the egress, I followed my route out, removing the ribbons I had placed. I was back to the road quickly and back to my car not long thereafter, the round trip hike taking three hours. Everything had gone well and I enjoyed this peak. I banged my toe hard at one point and made it sensitive to walk on, so I had to move slowly on the hike out, almost strolling.

At the car, I debated my next objective. It's only 11 a.m.. What's nearby? I knew once I dropped elevation it would be much warmer, into the mid-70s around Prescott/Dewey-Humboldt/Mayer. Hey, maybe Big Bug Creek isn't flowing so heavily. So I drove back to take another look with much more sun to help me see the whole thing better. A big pickup truck was able to push through it, the water about ten inches deep. This would be borderline for the Forester and I chose not to take a chance.

I got back on the interstate, then at the Bloody Basin exit, took this road southeast a few miles to possibly hike a couple nameless ranked bumps. By now, it was rather warm, into the low 80s. I'd be hiking a lot of it in brush and grass, and this is truly snake season. The hills here were covered in tall green grass, a testament to all the rain we've had. I may have sneezed once or twice or repeatedly. I chose not to bother with these two peaks. I got back onto the interstate.

Traffic wasn't too bad. I could now see all the rubble and rocks collected into massive piles from where they've blasted out the mountainside. I was able to keep at 60-70 m.p.h. most of the way into Phoenix, which is pretty good for this part of the interstate. I was back home by 2 p.m..

I was a tiny bit bummed to be blocked from Copper Mountain but pleased to tag Hickey Mountain, which is a peak I wanted to visit. Like I said earlier, these unplanned roadblocks (literally) often motivate me to drive the extra miles for a peak of more interest to me.

(c) 2023 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. WHA