The Mountains of Arizona •
Madera Ridge Highpoint • Tonto National Forest
• Pinal Mountains
• Gila County

The highpoint as seen about a mile away

The hill, now hidden by burned trees

The summit up ahead

Summit rocks

View north, Madera Peak is the rise partly obscured by the trees

View of the summit as I descend into the trees

The ridge as seen from below, but I am not sure if one of those bumps is the highpoint

All images

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Date: October 15, 2023 • Elevation: 6,685 feet (Lidar) • Prominence: 662 feet (Lidar) • Distance: 5 miles • Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes • Gain: 670 feet • Conditions: Absolutely marvelous


This peak lies on the north ridge of the Pinal Mountains south of Globe. At the far north end is Madera Peak, which I hiked in 2019. This peak, which has no official name, lies on the ridge connecting to Madera Peak, about halfway along the ridge relative to where Pinal Mountain Road achieves the range crest. The Forest Service websites mention "Madera Ridge", so I use a derivative of that name here.

The various topographic maps do not list a summit elevation, and some include extra contours, so that the best-guess figure is somewhere between 6,660-6,690 feet. But the 1-m Lidar data (USGS 1 Meter 12 x51y369 CA_AZ_FEMA_R9_Lidar_2017_D18) gives a summit figure of 6,685 feet, which is what I use here. The saddle elevation comes in at 6,023 feet, for a prominence of 662 feet.

I wanted an easy hike with no hassles, and this one certainly meets the criteria. A good road runs below the top, leaving just a quarter-mile hike through burned trees and low brush to the top. However, I was already planning to hike the road, meaning a 5-mile round-trip hike. I wanted the exercise.

I left Tempe at 5:20 a.m. and was in Globe a little before 7 a.m., the sun just now rising. I got snacks at a Circle-K, then located myself to the east side of Globe. Getting onto the right roads is not that easy. They're not regularly signed for Pinal Mountain, and I've only been on these roads twice previously, so sure enough, I missed a turn. But I figured it out and was soon south of the city and on the long sloping foothills of Pinal Mountain. I followed Icehouse Canyon Road to Kellner Canyon Road, then FR-651, which is the start of the road that actually goes up to Pinal Mountain. I was last on this road in 2006.

Pavement ends almost immediately here. But the road was a good road, and I drove it slowly, about 15 m.p.h., eventualy coming to the Sulphide Del Rey Campground, which lies just below the crest of the range. The campground was 5.3 miles from where pavement ended. I parked a little beyond the campground (empty today) in a clearing for toy-haulers (also empty today).

The day was looking to be a nice one, with clear skies, no humidity and a soft breeze. Outside temperature was about 50° when I started walking at 7:40 a.m.. The road walk went well and was easy. The grades were gentle and the road was in fine shape, easily passable in a Subaru had I chose to drive it. Because it was a road, I moved fast and was at the general summit area in about an hour, covering 2.5 miles.

I knew I was close to the top, but to hedge my bets I walked a little farther until I could see Madera Peak, then I left the road and started up a steep sloppy slope until I was on the summit ridge. This way, I would double back to the highpoint and not miss anything.

The summit lies toward the south end of the short ridge. Parts of this ridge were way overgrown in woody scrub, other parts were more open. A fire had killed many of the trees, most still standing. The very top is a rock outcrop — one of two about forty feet apart — so I tagged both, but did not locate a register at either spot. Other than look around, I didn't stop. Views were blocked the trees, both dead and alive. I descended back to the road on a more direct line. My total time "off road" was about 15 minutes.

Hiking back, I saw a truck parked in a clearing and a guy standing there. We got to talking and we had a half-hour chat. He just travels the country and camps. He was a nice guy. He mentioned the hunters had been testy with him because he was parked in a clearing they like to use. I saw no hunters today. This half-hour stop counted as my "summit break".

Halfway back to my car, another truck rolls up, an older couple out birding. And that was that for the humans. I saw no one else, even though it was a Sunday and the day was magnificent. I was back to my car a shade before 10 a.m.. Despite it being such an easy hike, I was a little beat, I think because I walked quickly most of the way.

I slowly descended the road back to Globe, meeting just one other vehicle going up. The road is good but has few shoulders and in spots, the uphill shoulder is often a gully about three feet deep. I was back in Globe by 10:30. Now what to do.

I had maps for a pair of peaks up by Seneca overlooking the Salt River Gorge, but decided against them. One of those peaks would be a six-mile hike. I decided to check out Peak 4472, which lies south of state route AZ-188 across from Salt River Peak. It looks like an easy mountain, but I could not find anyplace to park off the highway, and I wasn't comfortable to leave the car on the highway shoulder. I returned to Globe and decided to get back to Tempe. The day was warming into the high 90s anyway and lower-elevation hikes would be shut out for that reason.

This was an easy hike, which is what I wanted this time. I had hiked Madera Peak from the opposite side, from roads near Miami. However, the road I followed today gets close to Madera Peak (gated below) so that tagging Madera Peak and this peak can be done on one outing, and not take up a whole day.

(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.