The Mountains of Arizona •
Peak 6569 • Chiricahua Mountains
• Coronado National Forest
• Cochise County

On the ridge, aiming for that pointed peak, which is not the highpoint

Now I see the highpoint

Getting closer

Last slope

Rucker Benchmark Peak as seen from the summit

South: Limestone Mountain. The crags are Sunset Peak

Northeast view, the big peak in front has no name. In back would be Dobson and Ericson but am not sure which one is visible

North, the high peaks of the range. Not sure if Chiricahua Peak itself is visible

Peak 6569 from the forest road to the north

Peak 6569 as seen from the west, a view of the pointed peak as I hike up, another view of the mountain from the north, and an erroneous sign where Rucker Road meets highway 191. There is no such highway as AZ-191. It should be a US-191 shield. I find this kind of thing amusing

All images

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Date: April 13, 2024 • Elevation: 6,569 feet • Prominence: 519 feet • Distance: 3.8 miles • Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes • Gain: 860 feet • Conditions: Sunny, warm, beautiful


This nameless peak rises in the southern Chiricahua Mountains, a couple miles northeast of Rucker Benchmark Peak, near the historic Fort Rucker site. I did not intend to climb this peak today, but after I ran into trouble — and heavy, heavy brush — on nearby Swede Peak, I bailed on that hike and looked around for a consolation. This peak rises a mile north of Swede Peak, so it was close by and a natural one to choose, since I did not want to drive too far.

I left home before dawn, stopped in Douglas, then followed AZ-80 northeast to Rucker Canyon Road (FR-74), following that into the Coronado National Forest and situating myself south of Swede Peak. Rucker Canyon Road is a fine road, but the spur, FR-719, was much rougher and narrower. I got in about a mile, then parked in a tiny clearing. It was early still, but the sun was up, the day looking to be clear and sunny, and borderline warm. For now, it was cool but not cold.

Swede Peak rises to the north, notable for its rocky cliffs and formations high on its flanks and below its summit. The presumptive route is a trail, called the Pine Gulch Trail (#235), which swings close by the peak (there are two summits, the western one being slightly higher). It looked like a logistically easy peak: follow a trail as far as it would go, then up the slopes to the top.

I found just one report online about the trail, from 2017, mentioning that it was damaged in the big recent fire (presumably prior to 2017) but was being worked on. I started walking, following the road as far as it would go. At first, it was no problem, but when the road entered into the canyon, things got brushy fast. The road track grew weaker and weaker until I lost it. I had to cross into and out of some heavily-eroded drainages that probably helped, in a manner of speaking, obliterate the road.

The trail here was weak and the brush closed in on it, and I lost it many times. I doubt I was on a trail, I may have just been following natural lanes, and even those closed in. I got a few hundred feet up into the canyon, and came to one very heinous drainage that would have required me to drop about 60 feet down 45-degree slope into it. No way, forget that. I turned back and descended, thinking I can find a way into the drainage lower down, which I did, but at this moment, I decided to bail. I think this trail is gone forever, which is a bummer. So back to my car, me. This whole journey ate up about 90 minutes.

I remembered Peak 6569 and that it was close by. I did not have a map for it but I had studied it online and had some idea how to get close to it. I had no signal where I was, so going online to get more maps was not possible. I'd have to wing this one. The upshot was that this peak did not look like trouble. It had gentler slopes and lines as compared to the surrounding peaks, which tend to be steep and full of cliffs. I slowly egressed back onto FR-74, then drove that north a few miles to FR-74E, which goes up actual Rucker Canyon. This is the heart of the southern Chiricahuas, with many campsites and access to trailheads.

I drove on FR-74E which goes east, then north, then east again, cutting north of Peak 6569 about a mile distant. I figured if I can see the peak, I can park anywhere and just walk to it on a direct bearing. I found FR-4248, signed as Red Rock Canyon Road. This looked promising, so I eased onto it, then parked. It was clear this road would be a little too rough for the Forester, but I knew I was close. I knew the road went south but not exactly its twists and turns.

I followed this road southwest a half mile, parallelling Rucker Canyon Creek. Then it bent left and into the creek, which was flowing and about twelve feet wide. I was able to step across it using some exposed rocks, and only barely getting my feet wet. The road then splits, a left going into a canyon, which a straight heading toward my peak of interest, then bending left and hugging the base of Peak 6569.

The forest was thick here but still open enough to allow for decent views. I started up the peak, going up the first good-looking slope that I came upon. I had no map, but looking later at one online, I was on the slope below spot elevation 6064, the northernmost bump on this peak's short ridge. This slope was steep, brushy and grassy, but manageable. In about ten minutes, I had grunted up about 250 feet to a saddle just east of Bump 6064.

I hoofed it up the next slope, gaining about a hundred feet, the dropping about 30 feet, to a saddle below subpeak 6301. I could not see the summit from here, but to the south was a higher pointed peak, so I aimed for that. The slopes up Bump 6301 were steeper, looser and brushier than down below. I followed game paths and generally angled left rather than up. This placed me at a higher saddle below the pointed peak. Now I could see the real summit, still a half mile distant. This segment I had just come up was the toughest of the day, due to its brushy, steep and loose nature. While not difficult, it was annoying.

I busted up to this pointed peak, then angled right, intending to get on the higher ridge aiming for the main summit. This went well. It was less brushy and not as steep, and I made good time. Once on the high ridge, I simply walked it, going up one more "kinda" steep slope to gain the highpoint. The top is itself a ridge, and I found the cairn and a register in it. Mark Nicholls, of course, had signed in ages ago (he was the only other person to register an ascent at Lists of John). There were a few other signatures, some mentioning they were hunters. I did not recognize any names, and the register paper was water damaged and fragile. I had some sheets in my pack so I signed myself in and stuffed it into the bottle.

The views were excellent. All the surrounding peaks are higher, some by over 2,500 feet, so I felt like I was in an amphitheater looking up at everything surrounding me. I spent a few minutes up top, having a rest and a drink break. The day was warm but pleasant, in the mid-70s. I had covered a little under two miles in a little over an hour to get here.

I hiked down the same way, making minor variations if I saw a better slope than I had coming up. I had to take some of the steep slopes slowly, so I moved about as fast on the downhill as I had coming up. The important thing was that I moved efficiently. The outbound hike took about an hour. Back at my car, it was a little after noon, and I was pleased I was able to salvage the day with a peak after being brushed off Swede.

I drove out Rucker Canyon road heading north and west. Whereas a month ago I had then followed Leslie Canyon Road, this time I stayed on Rucker Canyon Road all the way to where it meets US-191 north of Elfrida. It was a little too warm now to be hiking more peaks, but I got some ideas for later visits, which may have to wait a few months, as the snakes are stirring about now.

Peak 6569 is an anonymous peak surrounded by much grander summits, but today, it was a perfect peak to hike, after my initial plans had fallen apart. It was actually fun and a good workout, and I was able to study the area for future visits, now wiser to the road conditions and the whole layout.

(c) 2024 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.