The Mountains of Arizona •
Palo Verde Mountain HP • Highpoint: Palo Verde Mountains
• Pinal County

View of the summit in early-morning sunlight

Closer to the top, the sun is higher now

And boom, here I am on top. This is the view southwest

View southeast at the route I walked up. The sun was still low enough to blot out most of the image

North view of the Sierra Estrella

The ridge as I descend

The secondary ridge that I took from and to my car, which you can see in the distance at the foot of the ridge. The vehicle closer in belongs to some shooters

The peak and most of the ridge I hiked as viewed from my car

View from the north along Hidden Valley Road

This is the highest point in the Ak Chin Indian Rez

All images

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Date: October 28, 2017 • Elevation: 2,121 feet • Prominence: 751 feet • Distance: 1.6 miles • Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes • Gain: 790 feet • Conditions: Clear and lovely, gunshots in the air


The Palo Verde Mountains are a small range about five miles west of the city of Maricopa in Pinal County. The highest point, and my destination for today, is a bump at 2,121 feet toward the south end. It looked short and quick, something I could do in a matter of hours, including driving times.

I could only find smattering references about this range, mainly as being included in some large "park" that will someday connect to trails elsewhere (e.g. the Sonoran Desert National Monument). The range lies within BLM land. For now, it's just a rocky desert range with no development for recreation.

I left before sun-up, following the usual route into Maricopa (Interstate-10 to AZ-347 to AZ-238). On AZ-238, heading west from Maricopa, I turned south onto Rio Bravo Road, which then becomes Hidden Valley Road. I drove about five miles on this road, slowing as I neared the pullouts alongside the road, abeam of the highpoint.

This is a popular shooting area, and one truck had already rolled into one pullout, the one that got closest to the base of the ridge I wanted to ascend. So I found another pullout and parked farther back from the range. The extra distance was minimal, just a quarter mile is all. I got dressed and packed, locked up the car and started hiking at 6:40 a.m., the sun still behind hills to the east.

I walked across the desert to the base of a ridge coming off the main spine. The peak was right there, less than a mile away. I ascended the ridge and weaved through the rocks and slopes, occasionally looking down at the people setting up to do some shooting. I could hear "pop-pop-pop" from other shooters farther away.

I was soon where this sub-ridge meets the main ridge, a gain of about 300 feet so far. By now, the guys below me were starting their shooting. The canyons would echo the "pop" and the hissing-air sound neatly, but I was not concerned about being shot by a stray bullet. I was too high up and behind rocks for 95% of the hike.

I had about five rock outcrops to scale and bypass. It was steep, but the rocks were usually solid ... except when they moved. I moved carefully, inching up the slopes and working my way around or up-and-over these rock outcrops. There was no scrambling involved. I was able to do this all without needing hands. Soon, I was below the summit mass, still about a hundred feet above me.

The last incline was much steeper and looser, but if I kept to the obvious solid rocks and avoided the looser slopes, it was safe. Here, I may have used my hands once or twice to scoot up a rock slope. Quickly, I was on top, the summit marked by a metal cross structure, a couple beer bottles and old worn clothing left behind by the bad guys, I assume. I spotted one of those blackened gallon water jugs along the way, so apparently they get this far. I didn't see any people, though.

The views were nice, the sun rising properly and lighting up the place. It had taken me just under an hour to get here, but I didn't spend a lot of time up here. I wanted down off the tricky slopes first before taking a break.

Going downhill went slow, managing the loose slopes carefully, then weaving my way through the other rock outcrops. But I moved efficiently, stopping for a break where the subridge drops to the desert below. Here, I could hear the gunshots, one after another.

I dropped down the subridge, then decided to bail down into a small draw well apart from the shooters. This added about a quarter mile to my hike, but kept me invisible to the other guys. I was back to my car at 8:30, feeling pretty good. I changed into driving clothes and left quickly, no reason to stick around and listen to gunshots all morning.

Ralston & Peters-Nall Rds
• Highpoint: Ak Chin
Indian Community

Elevation: 1,270 feet • Distance: none • Time: 3 minutes • Gain: none • Dust: Lots

The highpoint of the Ak Chin Indian Community is nearby, a total of six miles from where I was parked for my hike. I drove to it, "it" being the northeast corner of Ralston and Peters-Nall Roads.

Andy Martin built a very unassuming cairn here and I signed into the pill-bottle log, surprised to be the 5th person here since this past May. This corner is fenced and behind it is some water facility, ironically with higher land built up for the berms.

Some farmers were plowing the dusty fields and kicking up clouds of dust, so I left. I followed Farrell Road east through the main "community" of the Ak Chin. Officially, this is a "community", not a reservation. I am not sure what the difference is. In any case, I was back to highway AZ-347, which I followed back into Maricopa, then home. I was back by 10 a.m., ready to do chores!

(c) 2017 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