The Mountains of Arizona •
Peak 2560 • Goldfield Mountains
• Tonto National Forest
• Maricopa County

Peak 2560

Cool rock knob just north of Peak 2560

High on the ridge. The three bumps are seen, from left: east, middle, west. The map says the west one is highest, maybe it is, maybe not

On the west summit, a cool cairn, and big old Superstition massif

Looking over at the eastern and middle summits. Weavers Needle sticks up

Four Peaks and Buckhorn Mountain shrouded in snow and latent fog

View southwest at the Goldfield Mountains

View northwest, the Bradshaws way in back

The eastern peak as seen from the middle bump. It's actually kind of obscured as I was lower on the slope when I took this image.

All images

• • •

The Arizona
Mountains Gazetteer

Click to find out more!

Date: January 24, 2023 • Elevation: 2,650 feet • Prominence: 300 feet • Distance: 3 miles • Time: 3 hours • Gain: 600 feet • Conditions: Blue skies, sunny and cold


Peak 2560 lies on the boundary of the Goldfield Mountains and the Superstition Mountains northeast of Mesa and Apache Junction. The peak itself has an impressive south-facing wall of cliffs and a sloped profile on its north and west aspects. It hides in plain sight as there are dozens of other equally-impressive peaks and hills and ridges in the area. As for its mountain range, I don't know where the Goldfields end and the Supes start. I was lazy and decided anything west of state route AZ-88 is the Goldfields, east of the highway the Superstitions.

The day was very cold by Phoenix standards, in the 30s even by late morning, with highs barely above 50 degrees. It was clear and dry, with deep blue skies. I took care of some work duties in the morning and then took advantage of the conditions to do a local hike. I figured I'd be back by early-mid afternoon to get back to my duties.

From my apartment in Tempe, it's about a 30-mile drive east, then northeast, then north on AZ-88. I did not keep track of mileage. I knew where to park, and looked for a peak with this big cliff — that was my hint. I pulled into a parking area at the east end of the Bulldog Canyon OHV road, which is gated, but can be opened if one gets the code from the forest service.

Peak 2560 is close, less than a half mile from the road. I walked on this road, losing about 70 feet into a creekbed, then up the other side. I followed it upward going west, then it bends upward south up the hillside and gains steeply, then just ends... no room to turn around in a vehicle. What its purpose was, we'll never know.

At the end of this road are two trails. I went right (west) first and didn't get far, realizing this went nowhere fast. I went left (east) for a little bit, the trail a little better defined. But I only got to some rocks before stopping. I could see ahead to the west the trail rising to a saddle, and from there, the long, gently-sloping western ridge that should go to the top. I figured that was a better bet. So I hiked down the trail and road, then took a trail continuation heading west.

This is a good trail. It crosses into and out of a rocky drainage a few times, below big rounded cliffs and rock spires. I met a man walking his dog and we chatted. I also was far enough in to study the ridge bumps. I got most of the way to the saddle and stopped. I studied my map. The topographical map shows a tiny 2,560-foot contour on the ridge's middle-west portion. Visually, the highpoint appeared to be a rounded hump on the east tip of the ridge. There was a steep "v" between it and the next bump to the right. Would I be able to manage it? Only one way to find out.

I continued to the saddle, then found a track that went partway up this ridge. When the track ended, I followed cairns and occasional surveyor's ribbons. On the ridge, the topography is more evident. There are three main summits: the eastern one, a slightly-lower middle one, and a western one with a sharper profile that presumably is the one with the 2,560-foot contour.

The upper ridge was great. It was open, lots of rock tiers to make walking go by fast, the brush wasn't heavy and the slopes were gentle. I got below this western peak and attained its summit, with the barest amount of hands needed on a couple of the higher rocky tiers.

This summit has an interesting "column" of rocks forming a skinny cairn. Viewing east, the middle and east summits looked lower, the middle one no doubt, the eastern one close. But I also knew this can be a trick of the eye. However, going by the topographic map, I felt I had properly made the summit.

Nevertheless, I wanted to explore these other two bumps. It gets a little more rocky and jumbled here, but navigation wasn't too bad as long as I stayed high. I got to the middle summit easily. I peered over the eastern one and back to the western one and they looked about equal. I water-bottle sighted to the eastern one and determined it to be about two feet higher (it was close enough for me to feel confident with that measurement). The western one I was just on, all I could say is "it is higher".

Getting to this eastern bump ... it gets more rocky and exposed, downclimbing into that "v". I got down far enough so that all I had to do was ease down about a 7-foot class-3 segment. But there was no places for my feet. I sat there a few minutes, being aware I was alone up here. A fall could be nasty. So I did not descend it, and the eastern bump remained untouched by me.

I hiked out the same way I had hiked in. Back to that first road that went steeply uphill, I gave it another look. I followed that leftward trail and took it as high as it would go, getting onto the lower rock faces. I studied them, and decided again not to chance things. My concern here was I would scamper some rocks just to be walled out. There must be some magical opening somewhere others have used, but I did not feel safe doing this on my own, nor wasting my time. Feeling a bit bummed, I turned around and hiked to my car. I had been gone three hours.

When I got home, I looked the peak up on Peakbagger an ListsofJohn. Peakbagger places the highpoint at the 2,560-foot peak (the western one), whereas ListsofJohn places it on the eastern bump, which lacks a 2,560-foot contour. I was unaware he had placed it there, so all that time (and even now), I was under the impression that getting to the western peak was sufficient, and visiting the others was not obligatory.

Well... I then looked up the data from the "3DEP" lidar-based models to see if that would reveal anything. Unfortunately, the hyper-detailed figures for this part of the state have not been fully developed, so I had to go by some older data sets. The mapper can zoom in on elevations down to the meter vertically (but this is based on older data from 20 (?) years ago). It shows two contours of equal height and of nearly-equal area, representing the eastern and western peaks. The western one is barely, in my opinion, larger in area, but that has weak correlation to which area is higher.

Had I been a little braver up high and descended that wall and up the other side to the east bump, it would be moot for me. However, the conundrum is reflexive. Until the lidar data is refined to where the models can declare one of the bumps the winner, both should be visited. Visitors to just the eastern bump probably should have also visited the western one too. Neither Peakbagger nor ListsofJohn's decisions should be taken as gospel. I feel I was at the higher point on the western peak, and the map would support me, so I feel about 51% confident I had properly made the highest point. If the data should show in the future I had not, then I'll deal with that then and make a note of it here.

(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