The Mountains of Arizona •

Peak 4870

Look over at Needle Mountain from the road on Peak 4870

The summit

Summit cairn, view to the west

Needle Mountain

Cowboy and his hoss

Erosion in the road!


Summit in view

Now that's some breccia

Summit rocks, benchmark

View down into the tailings ponds of the open pit mines near Miami

Another view, more northeast now

View north. Peak 4870 is the one to the right of the hill with the road on it, left of center

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Pinto Valley Road - Globe/Miami

Peak 4870 • Needle Mountain

I was in Globe today, hiking Blackjack Mountain this morning. I had one other main item on the agenda, which was to explore a possible southern approach to Webster Mountain, the biggest peak in the area but surrounded by the massive open-pit mining operations of the Globe-Miami region. My interest is to climb Webster, hopefully soon, and had heard of this southern approach, so I wanted to check it out.

Done with my earlier hike, I passed through Globe, then Miami, then westbound on US-60 for about ten miles to the Pinto Valley Road junction. I went north on this road, then an immediate right onto Tonto Forest Road 287B, which is paved but not maintained, and gains steeply uphill. My exploratory mission was a success, I was able to drive where I hoped to, and now know I have a viable way to climb Webster Mountain.

There are two ranked peaks along FR-287B, so as I drove out, I stopped to climb both, giving me a three-peak afternoon. First up was Peak 4870.

Peak 4870
• Salt River Mountains
• Tonto National Forest
• Gila County

Date: November 30, 2021 • Elevation: 4,870 feet • Prominence: 308 feet • Distance: 1.2 miles • Time: 40 minutes • Gain: 270 feet • Conditions: Blue skies, clear, pleasantly warm


This peak goes by a couple different names, Peak 4887 at Lists of John, and Peak 4895 at the ArcGIS database. The topographic maps just show a 4,860-foot contour (20-foot intervals), so I added on 10 feet to arrive at the 4,870 figure.

It is not an interesting peak and the only reason I climbed it was because it is ranked, and it had a track most of the way to its top. This was a purely opportunistic peak, one to pad my totals.

There is a clearing on the other side of the road opposite the peak. I pulled in and parked. There were six vehicles, big trucks pulling toy haulers, and a couple sedans. No one was around. And every one had Minnesota plates. One truck had an insignia for a construction firm from Minnesota, so I surmised they all must be part of this company and working on some construction thing here at the mines that only a firm from Minnesota knows what to do. Otherwise, the odds of this happening on its own would be slim to none.

The road I wanted was across from the parking area. It is a measly track, heavily eroded and in poor shape. I walked it uphill and in 15 minutes, had covered the half-mile to its end, on a ridge north of the highpoint. The remaining 0.1 mile was a stroll south through moderate brush to the top, a fifty-foot gain, and an overall 270-foot gain.

Along the way, I heard some rustling and the sounds of a big beast getting up and moving. I banged my poles together and I heard it move again. I assume a cow. There was cow poo in places. But I never saw it and wondered where it ran off to.

The summit wasn't anything special. I snapped a couple images, kicked the cairn, and walked back to my car. The round trip took 30 minutes. Back to my car, the Minnesotans were still nowhere to be seen.

Needle Mountain
• Tonto National Forest
• Gila County

Elevation: 5,058 feet • Prominence: 545 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Gain: 410 feet • Time: 90 minutes

LoJUSGS BM Datasheet

I drove just a mile south, now abeam of Needle Mountain, which is much larger and potentially more interesting than what I had just climbed. I parked at the entrance of the track that leads in toward the mountain. There is room to park and not block the entrance, and I honestly did not expect to see anyone today.

I killed the engine, put up the sunshade, and ten seconds later a ranch truck pulls up pulling a cattle-hauler. The guy got out and asked me if I could move as he needed to park here as he was going in to locate a bull and to bring it back out. He was cool and clearly had business to attend to, so I agreed to move, parking in another pullout about 300 feet north of this spot.

Since I was already dressed from my last hike, it did not take long to be moving. I walked up the paved road to the track entrance, then followed it in toward the peak. Up ahead was the guy, now on horseback. I slowed my walk because I did not want to spook the horse. Rounding a bend, a friendly dog came running up to me, then the guy and his horse. I pet the dog, and the guy asked me which way I was heading. There is a Y-split here. I was going this-a-way and he was going that-a-way, which worked out well for both of us. The dog was his, of course.

I again stood back and waited until he was gone. They went downhill and he did a fine job of managing the horse down that hill, not that I know anything about horses. The road was rough looking and definitely required 4-heel drive. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

I went left, uphill, past two gates, one an open wire-stick thing, and the next one a heavy metallic gate closed and locked, but easily passed around it. I marched uphill, gaining about 300 feet, placing me on a saddle north of the highpoint, about a hundred feet below.

The road ends here, but I found a path that led uphill, and this path went uphill for about a hundred feet before petering out in the brush and slopes. The tread was loose, rocks rolling and sliding, but soon, I was approaching larger embedded rocks. I was quickly on top, at the northern tip of the summit ridge.

The summit features a couple of rock outcrops, similar in composition as the ones I had just encountered on the hike up. These rocks appeared to be breccia, which is little rocks "welded" together into a singular rocky mass, like how a Christmas fruitcake looks, where its constituent fruits meld into a quasi-homogenous mass. Same thing here, just rockier and about equal in taste. What was interesting was how big the rocks were, big boulders instead of little stones. See my photo at left. (My Canon camera's battery died on me, so the last few images were taken with my cell phone, so you may notice a difference in color tone.)

The highest rock was up ahead, and on it was the benchmark. These rocks lie right on the edge above a big cliff, and looking south, I saw more rock outcrops and cliffs. The views east were onto the tailing ponds and pits of the mines. Looking west, there were similar views. It's a huge operation here.

I spent about ten minutes up top, looking around and drinking some water. Going down, I carefully scooted down the rocky slope back to the road, and followed that out to my car. The cowboy's truck and hauler was still there.

I took a closer look at the hauler. I assume he brought his horse in it, and I also assume he was going to haul the bull back in it, as well as the horse. But I did not see any separations. Now, I don't know anything about hauling large animals, but I have always assumed you don't haul them together. What if they fight? Maybe he would warn them first not to fight, and maybe he already knows his horse and bull are like totally mellow to begin with.

It was about 2:30 when I was back to my car. I changed into more comfortable clothes and started the drive back toward Phoenix. Traffic wasn't bad, and I was back in town around 4 p.m.. I stopped for a Subway sandwich and was home not long thereafter.

Technically, the summit of Needle Mountain is outside the forest boundary. It presumably sits on land owned by the mining companies. But that was only for the last tiny bit, and I don't expect they care that much. My impression is this peak gets climbed rarely, so it's not an issue.

(c) 2021 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.