Cerro Montoso, Arizona
The Mountains of Arizona • www.surgent.net
Cerro Montoso & Peak 7883 • White Mountains
• Springerville Volcanic Field
• Apache County

Cerro Montoso, Arizona
Cerro Montoso.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
Hiking up the steep road.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
Approaching the summit buildings and a tower.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
The tower at the top.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
Looking southwest into the crater.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
Southwest view.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
Hiking down now, Peak 7883 in the distance.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
Peak 7883 as I approach my car.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
The top of Peak 7883, with a big metal pi.
Cerro Montoso, Arizona
View of Cerro Montoso from the slopes of Peak 7883.

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Date: April 18, 2020 • Elevation: 8,438 feet • Prominence: 818 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes • Gain: 858 feet • Conditions: High clouds, cool and a strong breeze.


I was spending half a day in the Show Low area hiking easy volcanic mounds along US-60. I had driven out early this morning and hiked Cerro Quemado, about ten miles to the east. That hike took just an hour, and the drive here just ten minutes. I pulled off the highway near its apex and onto a dirt track, driving in about a half mile and parking in a clearing that looked like an old burn from years ago.

The route to the top is a no-brainer, a steep road that charges straight up the northeast slope of the mountain. This would be my "big" hike, a gain of nearly 900 feet, but only in a mile. I started walking at 8:50 a.m.. The temperature was still chilly but pleasant, and the clouds abundant but with spells of sun.

I followed the road toward the trees. The first half is gently steep, gaining about 200 feet. Then the road passes through a gate and angles upward, gaining the remaining elevation in one steep push. No switchbacks, nothing to moderate the slope. But it was a solid tread. The volcanic gravel held well, and off to the side was a beaten path with fresh boot prints. I followed that path and it was good. I rarely slipped. Other than the steepness, the hike went quickly and without fanfare. I was on top a little over a half hour later.

The top houses three buildings which are essentially steel containers. They were presumably trucked up here from another road that comes in from the east. As expected, the buildings were ugly, and had warnings about high radio frequencies. After all the years of immersing myself in these frequencies, I still don't have any superpowers.

The summit was above, another twenty vertical feet. It was a bare ridge with a tall radio transmission tower atop it. I looked for the "Crater" benchmark but could not find it --- it may have been covered over by the tower's base. The actual crater of the mountain was to the southwest, a big broad bowl with about a hundred feet of subsidence. It was a lovely grassy park with spotty trees.

Where I stood was pretty too, but open to the wind, which had picked up since I was over on Cerro Quemado. The temperature was still cool, about 50 degrees, so the stiff wind made the air feel colder. About this time I hear a fellow call out, greeting me. He was down by the buildings. He came up to the top to chat. He says he hikes the peak 3 or 4 times a week, and that trail is essentially his personal trail. Nice guy. He stuck around for about ten minutes, then hustled downward, since he was timing himself.

I gave up on any benchmark. I did sign into a small register placed in a cairn discreetly off to the side. It saw the last visitor two weeks earlier, except for the guy I just mentioned. The wind was really bumming me out, man, so I started down too.

The footpath was great, and I just governed myself so as not to slip. I made it down in about 20 minutes, and was back to my car a little over an hour after starting. The hike had gone well. I wasn't expecting an epic, but it went fast and wasn't slippery, as I had feared it would be.

It was still not yet 10 a.m., and I had time to burn. There is another ranked summit north of the highway. It has radio towers and a road so I decided I would hike it too, just for the experience.

Peak 7883

Elevation: 7,883 feet • Prominence: 323 feet • Distance: 1.4 miles • Time: 35 minutes • Gain: 313 feet • Conditions: Much windier now!


The drive there took just a couple minutes. I crossed the highway then drove up a road behind a big storage shed of some sort, parking out of sight of the highway. There was a state trooper parked on the highway at the apex. Way back in 2000, I came roaring through here westbound, picking up momentum as I drove up the grade to the pass, then as I crested, a cop was there and he pulled me over. So this pass has some memories for me, back when I was a young outlaw.

The hike up went fast. The road was pitched very gently and I could have easily driven up. But the hike was fun too. I was soon on top, where there were towers and associated buildings. The highpoint appears to be where two metal tubes stick up, covered over in a lid, like a big metal pi.

The wind up here was nasty too, probably moreso now since I had few trees to block the wind. I did not stop. I kicked a few mounds of dirt then walked right back down, the total time gone 35 minutes.

From here, I continued westbound to Ortega Mountain.

(c) 2020 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.