The Mountains of Arizona •
Sage's Peak • Peak 2875 • New River Foothills
• Community of New River
• Maricopa County

Sage Gustafson Peak, viewed from the north

On the trail now, looking back at the cliffy peaks to the north

Going up the lesser trail to the summit

The last bit of the ridge to the top

The memorial, looking southwest

North view, those cliffy peaks again, plus Daisy Mountain and the distant Bradshaw Mountains

A close-up of Sage's memorial

Back at the trailhead, I catch the summit through the old Spear S Ranch gate (plus powerlines)

Montage: plaques at the trailhead, a mine shaft near the summit, and a blooming saguaro

All images

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Date: May 23, 2018 • Elevation: 2,875 feet • Prominence: 595 feet • Distance: 5.5 miles • Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes • Gain: 835 feet • Conditions: Blue skies, cool at first, then warmer


This peak does not have an official name. It is in a batch of hills where Phoenix merges into New River, east of 7th Street, in the foothills of the New River Mountains. The most notable peak in the immediate area is the pointed Apache Peak. However, my goal for today was this peak, located immediately west of Apache Peak, on the old Spear S Ranch. A new trailhead and revamped trail system (the Maricopa Trail) in the area allows for easy public access into these hills.

I got an early start, arriving here about 6:30 a.m. as the sun was still low in the east. The weather was clear and cloudless, outside temperatures about 65 degrees F. The highs in recent days had been in the mid-90s. Thus, it would not be too hot today, and I figured I'd be back to my car before the heavier heat set in for the day.

I drove north from the Carefree Highway along 7th Street, then found the Andy Kunasek Trailhead where 7th Street and Linda Lane meet. The peak was off to the east, just a mile away. I decided to drive Linda Lane first, maybe cut off a mile of hiking. The dirt road was in decent shape, but I did not like the lack of viable parking where a spur trail left the main road to meet up with the Maricopa Trail. Thus, I played it safe, and parked back at the Kunasek Trailhead. This would add about 2 miles to my hike.

I was the only person here at the trailhead, which is small and can fit at most 4 vehicles comfortably. It is new (built about 2016) and fronts the main gate of the Spear S Ranch, which covered a square mile of land west of Apache Peak and presumably would have included my intended peak. With my extra driving, it wasn't until about 6:50 that I started hiking.

I followed the Maricopa Trail east, the trail paralleling Linda Lane at first. The trail gained up and down a few hills, and then dropped down to meet another trail (the spur from Linda Lane) that runs between Apache Peak and my peak of interest. The trail gains to a saddle separating the two peaks, then drops about a hundred feet in a half-mile. I was looking for a side-trail to my right that would go to the top of my intended peak. I found it, deep within a small eroded canyon. An odd place to knock in a trail, I thought, but it was distinct, so I started up it.

This side trail was narrower and rockier than the main trail, but easy to follow. The grades were lenient and I made good time. Shortly, I was high up on the east flank of the summit, the trail by now becoming less distinct. The trail then made a hard left and passed by a mine shaft. I scampered up open rock beyond this shaft and kept to the trail, which was hard to see in spots. I was able to keep to it (mostly), and in time, arrived to the top, a little over an hour after starting. This last segment above the shaft seemed to meander a lot, adding distance. I suspected there may have been a more direct route I missed.

The top is marked by a metal sculpture and other small items, honoring a small boy named Sage who died in 2012. This was put in by his family and is in good shape, which suggests they come up here often to keep it clean and honor Sage. I gave the structure a couple respectful soft taps with my hiking pole, then sat on nearby rocks to drink water and look around the area. I studied Apache Peak, and filed this away for a trip when it's cooler. Daisy Mountain was close by to the northwest, plus the big mesas north in the New River Mountains. I spent about 15 minutes up here.

I found an obvious trail that came off the summit to a saddle north of the peak, and it looked so good I decided to follow it. At the saddle, I looked for the trails down and found scanter ones... and followed them until I had dropped about 250 feet, at which time any sense of a trail had disappeared. I did not feel like hiking back up, so I decided to gut out the descent by scooting down these slopes. I took one hefty spill when rocks slid out from under me. Otherwise, it was slow but not difficult, with heavy brush in spots, and small rock barriers to clamber down in other places. In about thirty minutes, I was back to the Maricopa Trail.

For the hike back to my car, I got lazy and followed the Maricopa Trail back to Linda Lane, not wanting to regain elevation on my hike out. This added some distance, but I moved quickly and was back to my car just after 9 a.m.. I spent a couple minutes changing, plus wandering the area and reading the signs, learning about this small patch of land and its history. I'll return, because I definitely want to tackle Apache Peak, but that one will wait until winter, when the snakes and bees are quieter. I didn't see any snakes today, but I did walk by one tree humming with bees, so they're out there.

The memorial for young Sage is well done. I did not paw around it, but instead sat to the side, communed with him and thanked him for allowing me to spend a few minutes as his guest on his peak. I don't know the family but should they read this, I hope they appreciate that the occasional visitor to this hilltop will know of, and remember, their little boy.

(c) 2018 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.