The Mountains of Arizona •
Pan Quemado • Samaniego Hills
• Ironwood National Monument
• Pinal County

Pan Quemado
Pan Quemado
Pan Quemado
An interesting stone structure
Pan Quemado
Look over at the actual highpoint from one of the northern ones
Pan Quemado
Look south at a couple lower bumps
Pan Quemado
The actual highest rocks
Pan Quemado
Cerro Prieto to the left, and the lower northern bumps
Pan Quemado
Pan Quemado as I exit

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Date: January 13, 2023 • Elevation: 2,290 feet • Prominence: 370 feet • Distance: 5 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 510 feet • Conditions: Pleasant, a little warm


Pan Quemado (Burnt Bread) is a loaf-shaped mound of volcanic boulders and brush, located in the Ironwood National Monument about six miles west of Interstate-10 at the Red Rock exit. It lies directly east of Cerro Prieto, which I hiked a year ago. On that hike, I was here too late in the day to tack on Pan Quemado, so I skipped it and saved it for a later date.

I began the day with a hearty hike along the Bluff Springs Trail in the Superstition Mountains. I had the summit of Bluff Springs Mountain in mind, but knew it was a gamble, and as things turned out, I did not make it to the top. But that was okay by me. I had never hiked the Bluff Springs Trail and had a fine time just walking the trail and enjoying the scenery. The Superstition Mountains are spectacular, a National Park in any other state.

Anyway, I was back to my car a shade after noon, and had no desire to return to my Tempe apartment. The day was too sunny and blue sky-ey for me to hole up in my place. Thus, I looked at this as an opportunity to go on a drive and possibly hike a peak or two, looking at those peaks I normally ignore because they're too far away or just never on my radar.

First on the docket was Coyote Peak, the highpoint of the Ninety Six Hills, about 20 miles southeast of Florence. I was here back in November but skipped it, as I had hiked three other peaks already and was feeling tired. I drove into Florence and stopped for gas and snacks. While inside the mini-mart, someone's car alarm was going beep-beep-beep-beep. As I get into line, I look outside and it's my damn car! I must have pressed the red alarm button on the key fob by accident. I pressed it again and shut the alarm off, then felt two minutes of shame.

I continued south along route AZ-79 for another twenty miles or so, to Freeman Road. I went east on it for 6 miles, Coyote Peak standing right there, a nice triangular-shaped profile. But as I got closer, a fence ran alongside the road with strongly-worded "no trespassing" signs put up by the local ranch property. I did not want to chance things so I cancelled this bid. Later, when I looked online, I saw that the private property only extended so far, with the peak and most of its logical approach on State Trust land. So, now knowing better, I'll return at some later date (note: I came back a little over a week later, see this trip report).

So next, I looked at Desert Peak, a low ridge-shaped mound along Park Link Road, about four miles east of Interstate-10 at the Red Rock exit. It was about a twenty-mile drive from Coyote Peak to the roads that lead in toward Desert Peak. I followed these roads until close to its base ... then heard all the pops and bangs. This is a shooter's area, and today being a Friday afternoon, was full of shooters shooting. "Shoot", I thought, a little bummed to be turned away from this peak, too. But all is fair, they were here first.

Being near the Red Rock interchange, I now remembered Pan Quemado is nearby, so suddenly, that became my quest. I got onto the interstate frontage, crossed over the Red Rock bridge, then followed the roads through the Red Rock community and more west along Sasco Road, past open fields and a big cattle feed lot. The road comes to a ford, where Greene's Canal crosses the road. In my past visits here, this ford is substantial, about thirty feet wide and 18 inches deep, a little too deep for me to comfortably drive through it. But today, it was completely dry, not even a little muddy. This was a positive development. I drove about another 0.8 mile, to a second ford, which, in the past, usually is not as deep and is much narrower. However, today, it was flowing strongly and again, I felt it wise to park here and not chance things.

As an aside, I don't understand how and when the flows vary as they do. There must be some dam along the way that governs how much water is released. But online searches yield no information, except best places to shop and best restaurants near Greene's Canal. When did the internet become so stupid?

I walked barefoot to the canal then crossed it, which went well, and made my feets cold. On the other side, I continued to walk barefoot about another hundred feet on the hard-pack ground, until they dried, then I put my shoes back on. I was a little over a mile from the peak. Cerro Prieto's summit rises high and is the most obvious feature seen from this point, Pan Quemado is a lower hill to Prieto's left.

I walked this side road, passing a family camping in their big RV, and continued past them until I was near the hill. I then left the road and battled through a brushy arroyo system, then onto the black-rock slopes. The transition from desert scrub and grass onto the black bouldery slopes is sudden, almost a distinct boundary between the two.

The uphill hike went well, the slope laying back, the brush spread out and the boulders mainly solid and staying in place. It was warm, nearing 80 degrees, and being late in the day (after 3 p.m.), was mindful of a snake or two. Normally, they're quiet and semi-hibernating this time of year, but can be active if it gets warm. But I never saw any snakes.

The slope feeds directly onto a lower northern summit hump. There are five areas of 2,280 feet along the short summit ridge, two at the north tip, two at the south tip, and one in the middle. It was immediately obvious the middle bump is the highest. I hiked down about 30 feet, then up about 40 feet to the actual highpoint. The terrain along the ridge alternated between grass and piles of boulders. It had taken me about an hour to get here, a hike of less than two miles.

I found the register and signed in, the first in three years. It's not that popular of a peak, the few people who come here with a peak in mind are more interested in Cerro Prieto. Today, views were good, and being relatively later in the day, provided good lighting and shadows. I snapped a few images and took a short break. It was satisfying to get a peak in for the day. Given my hike from this morning and all the driving I had done, I was feeling the fatigue.

I hiked down the same way. As I passed the RV-camping family, their dog comes running up to me, doing one of those soft "barks", like he wants to be my friend but is also a little defensive too. I squatted down to let him sniff me. Suddenly, he liked me, and licked my hand as I walked. He would have followed me all the way out had his human mommy not called him back. Dogs are so funny, ready to change allegiances at a moment's notice.

I crossed that ford again, then got into my car to get out of my boots and socks, plus to rest a little. I still had about a hundred miles to get back to Tempe. It was close to 5 p.m. now, dusk would be here in an hour. I got onto the interstate and back into the Phoenix borg with no issues, no bad traffic, no cop situations.

Today went well. I enjoyed my morning hike, my meandering drive and my bonus peak for the day. It was all impromptu, no real plan, being made up as I went along. I had waffles for dinner.

(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. WHA