The Mountains of Arizona •

Promontory Butte

Some old guy

Promontory Butte, 2020

Myrtle Point, 2020

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The Mogollon Rim

Promontory Point • Myrtle Point

The highest points in Gila County lie at the edge of the cliffs along the Mogollon Rim. Here, the Gila and Coconino county boundary runs exactly along the cliff edge, and by luck, two points (Promontory Butte and Myrtle Points) both achieve 7,920 feet of elevation. Previously, it was believed that Mazatzal Peak was the highest point in Gila County, but these cliff-edge points are higher by 17 feet.

I have been to the highpoints twice, once with Ken, and again with βð. Both visits have been interesting for their own reasons. The high country atop the rim is lovely and a nice place to visit in summer. The highpoints are barely worth the effort, but do make a good excuse to come up here.

Peakbagger lists Myrtle Point as higher, but in my opinion, both should be visited. Unfortunately, it's not "good enough" to get to the tops. These lie in Coconino County. You need to go to the cliff edges and dangle your piggies a little bit over the edge to get credit.

Promontory Point
• Mogollon Plateau
• Sitgreaves National Forest
• Gila & Coconino Counties
• Highpoint: Gila County

Date: (1) November 11, 1999; (2) November 1, 2003 • Elevation: 7,920 feet • Prominence: 150 feet • Distance: 1 mile • Time: 1 hour hike • Gain: 200 feet • Conditions: Clear and calm in 1999, sleety and cold in 2003 • Teammates: Ken in 1999; βð in 2003


In November 1999, Ken and I agreed to drive to the Mogollon Rim and tag these two highpoints. This was our second outing together. Since I drove the first time, it was his turn to drive. The day did not start well, and would not end well. But in between, we did manage to visit these two points.

Ken was an hour late picking me up. I had told him there was freeway construction near my home and that any online maps would not be up-to-date, so I gave him detailed directions to my home. But he ignored them and not unexpectedly got bogged down in dead ends and confusing detours. He told me he had to return to his place to get the directions I had given to him. I was annoyed with him for ignoring my advice.

Then we got going. Ken drove, and it was my first time as a passenger with him. He got onto the freeway going 45 miles per hour, and people were honking at him, yet he was completely oblivious to the honking. He seemed out of it. We got about 20 miles out of town and his vehicle seemed to sputter. I suggested we return to my place and take my truck. He agreed. I saw this as a chance for me to drive and increase my chances of survival. The problem was, Ken was still driving his vehicle as we returned to my home.

At the time, I lived near the junction of two major freeways, the Superstition (US-60) and Loop-101 freeways, where one needed to be in the correct lanes at the right time to catch strategic offramps, that sort of thing. Ken was new to the area, so I guided him, telling him to get into certain lanes, but he simply ignored me, and twice we found ourselves going away from my home. So we'd have to double back, and this wasted nearly another hour, too. We finally got back to my home. It was pushing 10 a.m.. I learned that Ken apparently doesn't like being told what to do, or won't listen, and this would be a theme on future visits together, which would not be many.

I drove us through Payson and up onto the Mogollon Rim, catching Sitgreaves Forest Road 300 near Woods Lake. The day was sunny and calm. First up was Promontory Butte. I followed a lesser-quality road (FR-76) south to where it petered out. I got a flat along the way. Changing it added about thirty minutes to our day. From where I parked, we walked a mile west and south, finding the highpoint cairn sitting astride the cliff's edge. To make it count, we had to actually touch the outward-face of the cliff, technically within Gila County. We continued on to Myrtle Point (see below).

In 2003, βð and I had other hiking plans for today, but when we awoke and found the weather to be cold and gray, we canceled those plans, then sat around thinking of somewhere to go. She asked if there was an easy highpoint to do, and I suggested the Gila County liners. So, without any advance planning, we hit the road, stopping at the Wide World of Maps shop in Mesa to pick up the necessary maps. We left home around 9:30 a.m. and drove to Payson in a little over an hour, where we had a breakfast at the "Knotty Pine" restaurant, a locals hangout. After getting gas and supplies, we drove up AZ-260 to the Rim and began our quest.

We followed the same roads as I did with Ken in 1999. We visited the point on Promontory Butte first, also making a side trip out to the benchmark that I'd ignored 4 years earlier. The weather was getting nasty, with fog and drizzle and temperatures in the mid-30s. Unfortunately, the views from the cliffs were hidden by fog. As a result, we didn't lollygag, and made the round trip hike in about 30 minutes. We then continued to Myrtle Point.

Myrtle Point
• Mogollon Plateau
• Coconino National Forest
• Gila & Coconino Counties
• Highpoint: Gila County

Elevation: 7,920 feet • Prominence: 696 feet • Distance: 0.5 mile • Time: 1 hour wander • Gain: 20 feet • Conditions: Clear and calm in 1999, sleety and cold in 2003 • Teammates: Ken in 1999; βð in 2003


Ken and I piled into my truck and I drove us back onto FR-300 and west another ten miles, passing through open areas, old burns, and thick forest. We found the side road to Myrtle Point and walked out to tag the various rocks. The weather had been warm, and we had good success with these two points.

Back to my truck, the battery light blinked on. It still had juice and the truck seemed to run alright, but I was concerned enough to not waste time. I drove back to the paved highway and into Payson. So far, no problems. I drove home and still no problems. Maybe there wasn't a problem and the light was on for no reason. We got back to my place, Ken drove home (probably getting lost along the way) and I drove to get a dinner. Now dark, with my lights on, my truck lost all power and I had to be towed to a mechanics that night. I'm just glad the truck didn't die up on the Rim.

In 2003, βð and I arrived to Myrtle Point in dense fog, with sections along road where I could only see 20 feet. The irony of coming up here to "escape" the gray down in the deserts was not lost on me. We drove in on the side-access road (FR-300C) and walked quickly out to the high area along the cliff. I was concerned when I didn't see the cairn I recall from the last time, then I found it, kicked over, rocks strewn about and the register just flung in the brush. I reconstructed everything, then we hightailed it back to the truck. By now, we had a light sleet.

We didn't waste time, driving back to the paved highway and down into Payson, where we ate a dinner and headed for home. The next day we went to the Phoenix International Racetrack to watch the big NASCAR race. It was sunny and warm, the whole experience a complete change from yesterday's sleety and cool hikes up on the Rim.

Since those visits, we have come up onto the Rim many times. There are so many places to explore up here. These highpoints aren't terribly interesting but they make a great excuse to come up, and the views from the rim edge are amazing.

(c) 1999-2019 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.