The Mountains of Arizona •
Peak 5038 • Reservation Tank Peak • Globe Hills, Tonto National Forest
• San Carlos Indian Reservation (summit)
• Gila County

Walking the road, that's pretty much the forest right there

Stone gabion, and the peak is barely in view to the right

Peak 5038 as I get near Reservation Tank

Approaching the saddle

Now at the saddle

The slope up to the top

Thicket of milk thistle

Summit cairn looking south

View north

Cairn, looking west at Globe

All images

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Date: May 9, 2024 • Elevation: 5,038 feet • Prominence: 458 feet • Distance: 4 miles • Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes • Gain: 1,180 feet (gross) • Conditions: Pleasant, breezy, blue skies and no clouds


This peak lies about seven miles north of where highways US-60 & 70 split on the east end of Globe. The peak rises a mile to the east of US-60, as the highway starts to gain elevation into the higher hills. The summit of this humble peak lies just inside the San Carlos Indian Reservation, but the entire approach is from the west, on Tonto National Forst land. Down this low, there isn't much forest to speak of. The terrain here is rocky with low brush, grass and cactus.

I had just hiked two peaks up north by the ghost towns of Seneca and Chrysotile. It was still early, just a bit past 10 a.m., so I drove downhill about twenty miles to place myself near this peak. The drive took about fifteen minutes. Forest Road 279 branches off from US-60 here. I had eyeballed it yesterday when driving northbound up US-60, so I knew what to look for. Even so, I drove right past it on the downhill. I did a quick u-turn and drove back to it.

The road is gated and gets steep and rough pretty quickly. Rather than chance things in my car, I parked the car along the dirt frontage of the highway, about thirty feet from the actual blacktop. I was shielded somewhat by some low brush. The car would not be seen by the downhill drivers and any uphill drivers would only see it after they passed the ingress point, so I felt my car was pretty safe where it was, hiding in plain sight.

It was a little warmer down here, having lost almost two thousand feet of elevation, but it was still very mild, temperatures in the low 70s. It was a calm, clear and very dry afternoon. I was already dressed from my last hike so I just got my pack on, locked the car, and started up the road.

The road gains to a gate, and I passed through it, then more steep uphill before the road's gradient lessens somewhat. The road runs along a ridge with drops on both sides. Up ahead was a stone gabion, which I thought odd — why would somebody build one here? Moments later, I passed through a small fenced enclosure with a cattle tank, there being a couple more of the stone gabions.

The road to here was steep and rubbly. Had I been really motivated, I could have got the Subaru to about here. The road's tread was loose shaley rubble, but no big rocks. However, after the cattle tank, the road became rougher. Smaller contraptions like an ATV would be best for a road like this.

I walked the road uphill for a little over a mile. It reaches an apex, then curls around a smaller hill and drops about 75 feet, then splits. The "correct" road stays right, marked by two more gabions. I saw about six of these, and I figure whoever built them had some time on his hands.

The road is now a narrow track and full of rocks and brush. It curled straight then right, dropping another fifty feet or so. It comes to a little platform overlooking Reservation Tank. A side road then drops into this tank area. The tank looked unused. If someone runs cattle here, I saw no sign of them or their poo cairns. Peak 5038, which I dub Reservation Tank Peak because I want to, rose ahead, a pointed summit with a steep "bare" slope leading up to it, a little over a half a mile away on a straight line.

I angled left and started upslope, aiming for the high saddle below Peak 5038. This wasn't too bad. There was no trail to follow and I was going against the grain of the ridges and drainages, but the terrain was generally friendly. Brush was low and I could see my feet most of the time. Soon, I was at the saddle below the summit, which was still another 300 feet higher.

The grass was deeper here, so I got out my snake gaiters and put them on. This would give me some margin of safety, but I still watched the ground carefully for them. The uphill to the summit was steep, but manageable. I took baby steps and went slowly, dealing with the loose rubble, grass and various brush.

About two-thirds of the way up, I saw a fence running across the slope, this being the San Carlos Reservation fence. I found a rocky spot to step over the fence, now on Rez land. The last hundred feet was steep and a little rockier, which helped with footing. Interestingly, I passed through a thicket of milk thistle, their lavender flower bulbs all open. It was very pretty. These are scratchy plants, though, so I moved through them slowly. In moments, I was on top the peak.

The summit is open and grassy, with a good-sized cairn sitting dead center. I found a register placed here by Mark Nicholls in 2006. He and Richard Joseph were here on that day. No one else had signed in until me, eighteen years later. According to List of John, one other person visited the summit between Mark and Rich's visit, and mine.

Views from here were good, and I snapped a couple images, but I did not stop. I figured it wise to get down and back onto the Forest land sooner than later. It had taken me slightly over an hour to get to the summit from my car. Up higher, I had a steady breeze which helped cool me.

I hiked down the slope back to the saddle, then back to Reservation Tank, where I sat underneath a juniper tree in its shade and had my formal summit rest. I removed my gaiters, happy to say no snakes bit me. After five minutes, I got back up and started the walk out.

The outbound hike went quick, taking less than an hour since I had gravity assisting me. I was soon back to my car, happy to see it looking just as I left it. The round trip hike covered four miles and took me just over two hours. By now, I had hiked over ten miles today and was feeling the fatigue. I was successful on these three peaks this morning, which made me happy. Now to get back to Bisbee.

I stopped for gas and snacks in Globe, then followed AZ-77 south to Winkelman. This highway runs about 35 miles and has some long steep (6-8% grades) segments, which isn't bad, but a trucker was riding my butt, while I was stuck behind a work truck ahead of me, there being no easy places to pass. When I could, I passed the guy in front of me, then so did the trucker, so rather than have him shadow me, I drove a little faster than prudent just to get some distance between me and him.

I passed through Winkelman (warning: speed trap), then south through Mammoth and then the connector into San Manuel. I was going to follow San Manuel Road-San Pedro River Road-Redington Road-Cascabel Road all the way into Benson. It's all one road, just gets different names at certain points.

I took some mileages in case you care: I zeroed my odometer where San Manuel Road left AZ-77. The town of San Manuel is 4 miles later. Pavement ends at 16.7 miles. The next 26 miles (to mile 43) are graded dirt, then pavement resumes. The town of Pomerene comes 17 miles later, at mile 60 according to my odometer. Benson is about 5-6 miles later. This cut-off saved me the hassle of going through Tucson and probably saved me 50 miles had I done so. Today, there was no traffic. I only saw two or three people coming the other way and I never saw nor passed anyone going my way. I still don't recommend this road as a Tucson bypass. I took it because it would actually save me time and distance doing so. In the bigger picture, it does not cut off any distance if you need to get to Phoenix anyway. Just stay on the interstate.

I was in Bisbee an hour later, happy to be back home after a couple days out and about.

(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.