The Mountains of Arizona •
Santa Maria Peak • Peak 3513 • Santa Maria River Valley
• Arizona State Trust Lands
• Yavapai County

Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
Santa Maria Peak (Peak 3513) is the bump to the right. In the foreground is Peak 3322. Taken as the sun was rising.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
Now on the ridge, Peak 3322 up ahead.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
The summit of Peak 3322 is directly ahead, and the main summit is to the right.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
The highpoint, and the saddle below.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
The last hill to the top.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
This is the summit rock.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
South view from the top, of the Black Mountains.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
Southwest view, Tres Alamos Peak and I think that's Buckhorn way in the back. In the foreground is the Santa Maria River Canyon.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
Northwest view, with Grayback Benchmark in the back. I was there last weekend.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
Northeast view, the Santa Maria River and ranch, then distant peaks toward Prescott.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
View southeast of the summit rock, and distant ranges such as the Weaver Mountains and Date Creeks.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
View of the peak as I descend.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
Back to my car. The slope in back is what I climbed originally.
Santa Maria Peak 3513, Arizona
View of the peak, with Peak 3322 to the left, taken near the ranch.

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Date: February 15, 2020 • Elevation: 3,513 feet • Prominence: 1,233 feet • Distance: 3.75 miles • Time: 3 hours • Gain: 1,300 feet (net), 1,550 feet (gross) • Conditions: Clear, very cold at first, warming rapidly • Wildlife: Cattle, then four javelina

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This is Peak 3513, an unnamed peak in an unnamed range in west-central Arizona, not near anywhere. It lies northeast of US-93, south of the Santa Maria River, which is one of Arizona's main rivers you've never heard of. The Santa Maria Ranch takes up a large portion of this part of the state, and the Santa Maria River Road offers a quick way to get from US-93 to highway AZ-96, should the need arise. For this website, I call it Santa Maria Peak ().

A week ago, I drove all this way to hike Grayback Benchmark, which lies about fifteen miles to the northwest. Afterwards, I scouted a couple roads for future hikes, including the Santa Maria River Road. I discovered it is a good all-weather road with no access restrictions. I was able to drive close to the base of the peak and suddenly I was interested to climb it, given how logistically easy it appeared to be.

I returned a week later. I left home at 5 a.m. and drove through Wickenburg and onto US-93, traffic somewhat light, mainly truckers. From Wickenburg, I drove about 30 miles to Santa Maria River Road, which leaves the highway where US-93 starts a long uphill grade, just after it becomes a four-lane divided highway. There aren't any towns or other obvious reference markers out this way. I eased onto the road, still a little early, about 6:30 a.m. now. The eastern sky was lighting up, but the sun was still behind the mountains and the air temperature was in the low 30s. So I parked and sat for about twenty minutes, to give the sun more time to come up.

I slowly drove the Santa Maria River Road northbound, crossing a cattle grate a little beyond milepost-6. I parked in a clearing with a fire ring on the west side of the road. A large dead cow took up one section, so I parked in another part, nearby a big creosote bush. The sun was just breaching the eastern mountains and although still cold, the temperature seemed to gain ten degrees in a matter of minutes.

I got my stuff in order, locked up the car and started hiking at 7:50 a.m.. I walked southwest, following low ridges up hill and crossing a fence line early on. I heard some mooing and screeching up ahead. I had scared a small herd of cattle, about a dozen of them including three little ones. I stood still and let them jog away from me. I was quickly at the base of the slopes.

The climb up the first slope went quickly. It laid back well, had good footing, was not impossibly brushy, and I was able to find open lanes all the way up. I surmounted the ridge atop a slight bump, spot elevation 2,836 feet. Looking ahead, I could see Peak 3322, and behind it, the summit, Peak 3513.

Now on the ridge, the grade lessened to nearly flat, then slowly increased, gaining on Peak 3322 about a half mile ahead. I came upon another fence line and crossed it. Up here, the cactus was thick with lots of staghorn, but no cholla. There was ocotillo, creosote and bursage, plus rocks.

Then I hear some rustling, then snorting and huffing. I stop, then spy a big javelina in the brush about 20 feet ahead of me, to my left. It was a big one too, probably 50 pounds easily. It scampered off but not very quickly. That gave me a little adrenaline boost. Javelina don't have great eyesight and if downwind from one, they won't know you're there. It is possible happen upon one, and they can be ornery. Had I not heard him, I may have done just that.

Then five minutes later, I scare two more! These two just up and bolted from their hideout. I was near yet another fence, and I got on the other side of it, thinking maybe there are no javelina on this side of the fence. By now, I was closing in on Peak 3322. The fence ends partway up the slope. I gained the summit ridge and tagged its highpoint, the main summit now plainly visible, no subpeaks to obscure it.

I climbed down about 150 feet, then up the slopes and to the top, nothing at all to stop me or slow me. I scared up one more javelina in this segment, making four for the day. The summit is flat and features a big boulder that is its highest point. I tagged it, then sat for a break. It had taken me 90 minutes to get here, in what I estimate to be 1.75 miles.

The views today were outstanding, with clear and dry skies so that details could be seen on peaks on the dar horizons. There was Grayback from last week, plus nearby big peaks like McLendon, Crosby, Thorn and Tres Alamos. Looking east, there was the Date Creeks, the Weavers and McCloud Mountain, plus peaks up by Prescott.

The log was in an old glass jar that was rotted from years in the sun. The damn thing broke in my hands. The log held just a few names going back to 2004. Jon Vitz and Bob Packard were here then, John Klein a few years later, then some other names I didn't recognize. one guy has climbed it more than once. He may be from the local ranch down below. I put the log into an empty plastic bottle and hope it will be there for the next visitor. I carried the busted jar out in my pack.

I spent about 20 minutes on the summit. Going down, I looked over at Peak 3322 and a long, lovely slope trending to the north from it. I downclimbed to the saddle below Peak 3322, then decided to take that north slope, rather than reclimb Peak 3322 and scare up more javelinas.

Going down was easy, the slope long and gently inclined. I descended most of the elevation, encountering a jumble of rocks about 50 feet high that required hands in places to maintain balance. This was the only scrambling of the hike, and it was easy. Once down low, I then cut east into and out of a few drainages until I came upon the road. From here, I walked back to my car. I had been gone a total of three hours, and the descent covered about two miles, given I had to do a little extra wandering. But it went well and I am glad I chose it.

The hike had gone well and had not taken long. Now I had no real agenda, except to eventually be home sometime that evening. Instead of getting back on US-93, I followed Santa Maria River Road north, then east, until it fed me onto AZ-96. The road was in fine shape the whole way. Some sections ran within a wash bottom and were a little sandy, but nothing concerning. The whole road covers about 13 or 14 miles and is scenic.

Now I headed east on AZ-96 to the town of Hillside, below McCloud Mountain. In Hillside, I drove south onto Date Creek Road, a 20-mile dirt connector to the AZ-89 near Congress. Beth and I drove this road a few years ago. It is dirt but in good shape, has no traffic, and is also quite scenic, cutting a valley between the Weaver Mountains and the Date Creek Mountains.

Now on AZ-89, I drove through Congress into Wickenburg, then followed Vulture Mine Road south through town. Downtown Wickenburg was jam-packed with tourists, this being their Annual Gold Rush days. Beth and I went to the one in 2005. On Vulture Mine Road, I drove south, eventually connecting to the roads in Tonopah. I drove to the truck stop on 339th Avenue and Interstate-10. I needed gas and snacks, plus a chance to look at my maps to see what was out here. It was only 1 p.m..

I've never driven 339th Avenue south, so I did. Six miles later it connects to Salome Highway. Beyond are a handful of volcanic mounds, symmetrical and pointed or long and loaf-like. Salome Highway led to Old US-80. I went right and looked for a way in to explore Arlington Mesa, which is a long volcanic mound, not really a mesa. But there was no way in past the fence. So I drove east on US-80 to AZ-85, then south, then into the Robbins Butte and Powers Butte Wildlife Areas. My new plan was to hike both these mounds. The story continues.

(c) 2020 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.