Scott Mountain, Arizona
The Mountains of Arizona •
Scott Mountain • Highpoint: Dripping Springs Mountains
• Pinal County

Scott Mountain, Arizona
Scott Mountain from about 8 miles away, against a dark band of clouds
Scott Mountain, Arizona
Scott Mountain as seen from the trail
Scott Mountain, Arizona
Now near the range crest, the summit is up ahead, behind this false summit
Scott Mountain, Arizona
Me walking up the off-road slope (photo by Scott Peavy)
Scott Mountain, Arizona
The real summit
Scott Mountain, Arizona
Interesting patterns in the rocks
Scott Mountain, Arizona
Scott, Mountain
Scott Mountain, Arizona
View of the open mine pit at Ray, looking west
Scott Mountain, Arizona
Now looking southwest
Scott Mountain, Arizona
Storm clouds amass over Pinal Peak to the northeast

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Date: October 21, 2018 • Elevation: 5,096 feet • Prominence: 1,376 feet • Distance: 6 miles • Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes • Gain: 1,850 feet • Conditions: Cool and blustery with disorganized storm clouds, rain toward the end • Teammates: Matthias Stender, Scott Peavy

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Scott Mountain is the highest point of the Dripping Springs Mountains in eastern Pinal County, contained within the triangle formed by highways US-60, AZ-77 and AZ-177. A decent dirt road gets to within a couple miles of the peak, and a jeep track leads to the high ridge below the summit. It looked like an easy and fun hike.

I teamed with Scott Peavy and Matthias "Scott" Stender, our first time hiking as a threesome in nearly a year. We met one another at dawn at the Wal Mart in east Mesa. Matthias drove us into Globe, then south on AZ-77 for 15 miles to Dripping Springs Road. We went in a little over 9 miles and parked in a small clearing due east of the peak. The drive took about two hours, covering about eighty miles.

The weather was active, with a lot of lower-level clouds moving northward quickly. A system centered over southern Nevada was the cause, evidently a little wave of energy coming up from the south. This is uncommon for October, as it is usually very calm and dry this time of year. There was a little concern we might get rain or lightning, but we felt the odds were in our favor and went forth with the hike.

We started walking about 8:10 a.m., following the jeep trail west toard the range crest. The jeep track is steep and rubbly, but it was easy to hike and was a direct route to the crest, with very little meandering. Toward the crest, it tracks left, then up a gully and past a stock tank. The summit was to the north, hidden by a false summit for the time being.

Lower down, the weather was a little dark and ominous. To the north, there were lightning strikes and distant thunder. We could see virga, too. However, where we were, it was mixed, with some sun, then clouds. But it was dry. Looking south, the skies were clearer, which was encouraging.

From the road, we started hoofing upward on the slopes, covered in prickly-pear cactus, agave and some hedgehog cactus. The going was mostly open, but we would sometimes have to weave through the thick cactus patches. There were no trees up here. It was very breezy and chilly, but foir the time being, we had more sun than clouds.

Toward the very top, the terrain is rockier. We came to the false summit, then scooted down about 30 feet to a saddle, then up about 50 feet to the real top. A metal pole is cemented into the rocks at the summit. We arrived about 9:50 a.m., a one-hour, forty-minute hike, give or take.

The views were quite nice, offering a unique back-side view of Pinal Peak, which was enclosed by the heavy clouds, while we had a mix, plus the strong breeze. We signed into the log book, the first team to sign in since February. The log had names going back to 1991, many of the ascents by the Southern Arizona Hiking Club.

I was not too cheery about a dark bank of clouds to our south, with a tall column of cloud rising above it. It looked like a potential thunderhead. We spent about 10 minutes on the summit, but I wanted down, wanting no part of any lightning while on the tippy top. We descended west downslope to meet the road, which had curled around the peak so that we did not have to hike far to get back to the road.

We did not stop except for short drink breaks. We made good time going downhill, all the while the clouds amassing. Fortunately, no lightning yet, but we were still somewhat exposed being on the long ridge that contains the jeep track. Much lower down, about a half-mile from the car, it started to rain. It was not heavy, but it was consistent, enough to get the clothing wet, but not soaked. But then, the rain was over just as fast as it had started. We were back to the cars about 11:30 a.m..

Both Scott and Matthias' GPS units put the mileage at 6 miles for the round trip, with about 1700-1800 feet of gain, depending on if drops and regains are counted (there are two on the ascent, one of about 30 feet, another of about 50 feet). The road, Dripping Springs Road, is a decent dirt road with a few steep spots. There's a small village along the way, too. The road crosses a number of small arroyos, so in wet weather, it could be impassable in some parts if those creeks are flowing. A normal high-clearance vehicle would be adequate in dry weather.

Matthias drove us back out to AZ-77. Rather than retrace our route through Globe, we went south, following this scenic highway about twenty more miles into the tiny town of Winkelman, where we stopped for drinks and snacks. In Winkelman, we got onto AZ-177, and followed that northwest about 30 miles to Superior. I had only driven these highways once before, in 2011. It was nice to be back and sight-see. The little towns out here are mining towns, and the gigantic Ray Mine is one of the biggest open pits in the world, probably.

Near the Ray Mine, we could look east and see Scott Mountain, where we had been about two hours earlier. We also studied other peaks along this stretch of highway, for future visits. Back in Superior, we caught US-60 all the way back to Mesa, where we shook hands and split to go home. It was good to be back hiking with the guys again.

I enjoyed this peak. It was fast with easy logistics, and as often is the case, in a very pretty part of the state I would never get to otherwise. The drive around AZ-77 and AZ-177 was also great fun. No one ever talks about these highways being so scenic, but they are.

(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.