The Mountains of Arizona •
Milos Butte • Mormon Mountain Volcanic Field
• Coconino National Forest
• Coconino County

The highpoint is behind these trees

Summit rocks

View south, Mormon Mountain

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Date: May 20, 2022 • Elevation: 7,550 feet • Prominence: 320 feet • Distance: 4.8 miles • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 450 feet • Conditions: Sunny and mild


Milos Butte is a forested ridge south of Mormon Mountain & Lake, southeast of Munds Park. I was heading to Flagstaff and did not have a lot of time for diversions. However, I was interested in this hill as it would go quickly, and had tracks most of the way to the top.

I have not hiked in almost three weeks (not since May 2. I looked it up). This is mainly due to a very busy schedule in which I have virtually no available time. My right knee has also been acting up. I tweaked it back in January and it is still weak at times. No pain, just a little weak. In any case, I had been resting it, and figured today would be a good chance to test it again on a moderate hike to see how it would do.

I took the scenic route through Payson. I moved away from Payson a year ago. Passing through it, I get mixed feelings. I don't miss it, it's a scenic town, but that's about it. What I enjoyed while living there was the drives up onto the Mogollon Rim. I followed AZ-87 northwest through Pine and Strawberry. I remembered every curve by heart, even the place where I whammed an elk a year ago. Once onto the plateau, I followed AZ-87 to Clints Well and then onto Lake Mary Road. I drove this route about 20 times when living in Payson and grew to love it. It's scenic, tranquil and almost never crowded.

On Lake Mary Road, I drove northbound to Forest Road 91, signed for Lee Butte (and other places). This road is about three miles south of Mormon Lake. I followed FR-91, following the signs, until east of Milos Butte. The road was pretty good, just a few spots of rocks or ruts. I didn't track mileage, but I went in about 6 or 7 miles, taking about 20 minutes.

The road dips into an open meadow called Bert Lee Park. There is a home and small ranch property here. Milos Butte lies south of this park/property. One side road led to a gate and a "no trespassing" sign. Another track, a few feet south of the first one, was on forest property and would be my route to the top. It is signed as FR-9421W. I had to ease through a mudpit. I didn't get in far, just a few yards. I parked in an open spot near where this track split into two. The left track is FR-9421X. This is what I would follow first.

I got properly dressed and a simple pack together, and started hiking at 8 a.m. sharp. The day was cool and mild with a gentle breeze. I followed 9421X as it curled south, meeting FR-91A a little under a half-mile later. This road was an old "Industrial Railroad" track from about 90 years ago, when the hills up by Coulter Mountain were logged. The track was long-ago removed and no sign of it remains.

I followed FR-91A northwest, coming to a gate and a "no trespassing" sign, this being the same property I mentioned earlier. I veered left into the trees, following a lesser path, not shown on the topographic map. This lesser track loses distinction, but I stayed near the property fence and soon saw the roof of the main residence, the roof being bright green and easy to see. Whatever track I was following soon merged with a much better track, this being FR-9423. I hung a left and started uphill.

This track heads uphill and soon splits. The left fork is signed FR-9423C, but I didn't want that. I stayed right and not much later, came to another split, now going left, now on FR-9423A. Then, about ten minutes later, I came to a third junction, going left again, now on FR-9423B. These roads are shown on the 2016 Forest Service map and the map was critical for navigation. Otherwise, I would have guessed at each junction.

FR-9423B swings east across the north slope of the butte. Then it bends south, now on the butte's east slopes. The trees spread out more and I could see better, the top just uphill, perhaps an 80-foot gain. So I left the track and walked through the brush (a lot of catclaw) to the top, which is broad and gently rounded. Views were limited but looking north, I could see the outline of Mormon Mountain. I snapped a couple images of the top. My photos for this hike were limited. I could never get a good long-distance view of Milos Butte, and most of the hike was through the trees, where the photos all look the same. I scared up about a dozen deer and elk up high.

For the hike down, I retraced my steps and could see that big green roof of the residence. Once near it, I entered the trees to find that lesser track, then simply retraced my route back to my vehicle, a 90-minute hike. My knee held up well, but it was sensitive afterwards, and even swelled a little. I have no idea why it's acting up. Obviously, it's inflamed. It does not hurt, but is stiff. I rubbed a lot of arnica gel on it and took some Aleves to battle the inflammation. That seemed to help after a couple days.

On the drive out, I thought about hiking Peak 7730, but since I had a very long and busy day ahead of me, and that my knee was wobbly, I passed on this second peak and just got back onto Lake Mary Road and into Flagstaff. I was happy to get in this hike and glad it all went well.

(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. WHA