The Mountains of Arizona

Peak 9947

Sign at the road junction

The old track that I hiked

Nearing the top of the first ridge

The summit across the way

Southwest view toward Peak 9913 (Cow Hill)

Almost at the top

The top is in the trees

Looking back toward the ridge I ascended

Hiking down. My truck is barely visible down there. Peak 9913 is in view

Peak 9913, a.k.a Cow Hill

Lower road through the forest

Road starts to break into the open and get steeper

The steepest part where the road leaves the trees and enters onto the upper ridge

And the summit isn't that far away

Stick Scott at the top

Looking south toward Mount Baldy

Boardshack Knoll

Initial hike into the trees

Approaching the top...


And we're there

Returning to my truck

All images

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Peak 9947 • Cow Hill • Boardshack Knoll

Beth and I were camping at the Winn Campground in the White Mountains, enjoying cool air, rain and storms, and actual hiking. We drove out two days ago, and yesterday I hiked Antelope Peak and Pole Knoll and also had an unplanned and very expensive detour drive into Pinetop to get a new starter/solenoid for my truck.

Today started much clearer and drier than yesterday. Dry is a relative term: everything had dew on it, so it was humid, but at least there weren't already puffy clouds amassing at 7 a.m. like yesterday. I had three peaks planned for today and needed just about four hours of cooperating weather, so things looked promising. I gave Beth hugs and kisses goodbye and was rolling a little after 7 a.m.

Peak 9947
• White Mountains
• Apache National Forest
• Apache County

Date: August 16, 2014 • Elevation: 9,947 feet • Prominence: 457 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 55 minutes • Gain: 580 feet • Conditions: Sunny, cool and humid


I exited the campground and followed AZ-273 back to AZ-260, then east a little to Forest Road 117, the main gravel road that goes north toward Greens Peak. The road was a little muddy in spots from yesterday's rains, but not too slick. I drove about four miles and parked at a corral southwest of my first peak, known by its elevation, Peak 9947.

I arrived a little before 8 a.m., and there was some activity in the general area. There were a few of those Polaris ATV-type vehicles with guys in camouflage. I was not aware it was hunting season. Or maybe they were just scouting. In any case, I did not feel concerned. The weather was pleasant and sunny, noticeably less humid than yesterday.

An old track barges directly up the southern slope of the hill, so I walked toward it across low bunchgrass and soon was on the track. After about 20 minutes, I had gained about 500 vertical feet to place me on the ridge, amid a sparse stand of pine. Once at this ridge, which is crescent-shaped, the summit was a few hundred yards north.

I walked the ridge crest rather than go directly straight, meaning less elevation drop and regain. Soon, I was at the base of the final hill. I hiked up and into the trees, negotaiting a few fallen trees along the way. The summit is hidden within the trees, but I found a small cairn near one tree that seemed to be at the highest point. I snapped a photo and immediately started the walk out.

I retraced my steps and made good time on the hike down, aided by the consistent slopes and gentle terrain. I was back to my truck in less than an hour. I took some time to relax in the front before exiting back to the paved highway, now aiming for my next peak of interest, Peak 9913. These two peaks are about two airmiles apart, but the roads are such that it's easier to go south, then catch a different road north to the second peak, Peak 9913, also known as Cow Hill.

Cow Hill • Peak 9913
• White Mountains
• Apache National Forest
• Apache County

Elevation: 9,913 feet • Prominence: 443 feet • Distance: 3 miles • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 620 feet • Conditions: Sunny and humid


I exited from FR-117 to highway AZ-260, then west a mile or two to FR-117G. This road is paved for a short segment as it leads to a maintenance storage yard hidden in the trees. Afterwards, it is dirt, and a little bumpier and rougher than the other roads I had been on. I followed the main road north, then hard-left west, then a 90-degree right turn going north again, a total of about a mile and a half from the highway.

After this second turn, the road had some bad erosion with exposed underlying rocks, no doubt "enhanced" by the recent rains. I was able to inch north about a quarter-mile, but decided to park in the first pullout I came to. My parking spot was in a tree-hidden camping area, but no one was around today, presumably because of the nasty roads. I had the area to myself.

The map shows that Road 117G goes north, then "ending" on Peak 9913's northeast slopes. I planned to walk north, then leave the road and go cross-country through the trees and the open slopes, figuring there would be no problems given how open these hills generally are.

I walked north, bypassing large puddles and big mud slicks along the way. I came to a gate and passed through it, and in a matter of minutes, had arrived to where I had figured I would abandon the road for the slopes. However, the forest here was thick, so I decided to keep to the road and see where it took me.

The road was easy to navigate, despite there being a number of small dead-ends jutting off of it. At a Y-junction, a right led down into a meadow, so I stayed left. Here, the road steepened and started to bend more west than the map indicated. I sensed quickly that the map was inaccurate from this point onward.

The "good news" was that the road kept a fairly consistent and slightly-steep uphill grade, so I knew I was going up, if not knowing exactly where to. The trees stayed thick the whole way. Finally, the road zigged left into a small open meadow, and I could see the bare ridgeline above me, which was a welcome sight. Then the road zagged right, made a couple more sharp turns, then finally emerged from the forest completely and up an open slope, the road being extremely steep for this short segment.

I had not expected the road to go to the top, so this was a welcome surprise. I huffed and puffed up that steep section, then when the road moderated, I could see the top not too far away, the last couple hundred feet of hiking very easy and tame by comparison. I arrived to the top after about 30 minutes from leaving my truck, took a few images, inspected some small concrete and corrugated metal water tanks, then started back down.

I took some time on the hike down to shoot more photos, with excellent views of the myriad of small knolls below me and giant Mount Baldy to the south. The skies were mostly clear, buit a few high clouds and some puffier coulds were building, but nothing was organizing into thunderstorms for the time being.

I was back to my truck, a round trip time of about an hour. From here, I drove back to the paved roads and south toward Boardshack Knoll.

Boardshack Knoll
• White Mountains
• Apache National Forest
• Apache County

Elevation: 9,524 feet • Prominence: 307 feet • Distance: 0.8 mile • Time: 30 minutes • Gain: 350 feet • Conditions: Sunny, humid


Boardshack Knoll is just a simple bump, the easiest of the five hills I hiked this weekend. Coming from nearby Cow Hill, I drove south on AZ-273 to the turn-off to FR-112, the same road that leads to Pole Knoll about four miles to the north. I followed FR-112 north about a mile, then followed a scanter two-track road east a little. I parked in a pullout on Boardshack's north slope, immediately above the lovely grass meadows surrounding the peak.

I started walking south into the trees, following a grassy ridge upwards, then angling through thicker growth and a few downed trees, following open areas as much as possible. Soon, I was on the main top ridge, the trees having thinned out a little by now.

I angled left and simply walked upward until I was at the top. It wasn't much of a summit, the views being blocked by trees. I used this hike as an opportunity to work on my navigation skills, trying to locate visual cues to help navigate through the trees. It's always good to practice. The hike down was easy, and I tried deliberately to follow the same visual cues I had seen on the way up.

I was back to my truck quickly, the round trip taking no more than a half hour. It was an easy little hike. From here, I drove back to the campground to hang with Beth. The weather was heloding steady, for now. Later in the afternoon, we drove down to Big Lake, about 15 miles south. I wanted to hike Big Lake Knoll, but by now a gigantic thunderhead had amassed and it started to rain and drop lightning. Also, Big Lake Knoll had been burned out in the Wallow Fire from 2011. Thus, I decided to skip the hike. We enjoyed touring Big Lake, though.

This was it for my hikes. We packed camp early the next morning and drove back home, arriving Sunday afternoon.

(c) 2014-2021 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. World Hockey Association