The Mountains of Arizona •

Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
View of Timber Camp Mountain from the hike in, in a random spot with a view
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
Now seen from the south end of FR-2333
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
A view of the northern hill, Peak 6482, and of the nearby cliffs of the Salt River Canyon
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
Rock Springs Butte from FR-339.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
A little closer in, showing some detail of the route, and cliffs.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
At the base of the small cliff band.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
Now above, Matthias closes in on the top.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
Jackson Butte, Haystack Butte (to the left) and Timber Camp Mountain (to the right), from the summit.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
Sevenmile Mountain.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
The interesting red-colored rocky summit.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
Shot of me.
Timber Camp Peak, Arizona
Walking down, giving a sense of the slope here.

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Sevenmile Mountains — Salt River Canyon

Timber Camp Peak • Rock Springs Butte

Timber Camp Mountain rises about 35 miles northeast of Globe along US-60, the last of the highlands before the sudden drop into the Salt River Canyon. The mountain is very broad and rounded, covered in heavy forest of ponderosa pine, pinon and juniper, agave, cactus and mountain oak, among other things. You get the full suite of Arizona flora on this peak. Peak 6527 is just the highest bump of the three or four bumps that compose Timber Camp Mountain. It lies on the south tip, facing away from the Salt River Canyon.

A couple years ago, Matthias and I climbed nearby Jackson Butte and had planned to climb Timber Camp as an add-on peak. But the gates were closed and we hiked Carol Spring Mountain across the highway instead. Today, we weren't even supposed to be here. We had met to climb a peak in far-east Arizona, near the town of Duncan. But that didn't happen.

We met in Globe at 6 a.m.. He put his stuff in my car and we headed east through the rest of Globe, then onto the San Carlos Indian Reservation. About ten miles east of Peridot on US-70, a white pickup truck was coming westbound the other way, speeding and not staying centered in his lane, followed by two San Carlos Rez Police SUVs in hot pursuit, with lights and sirens on. I moved to the right shoulder because they were moving fast, even the cops were moving into my lane.

As we continued eastbound, a couple more cop cars raced westbound with their lights on, so something was going on. About twenty miles later, we get near the town of Bylas and see that traffic is stopped and lots of cop cars with their lights on. We were about the tenth car in line. I killed the engine and we got out, as did others in line. Nobody knew for sure what was going on but the people in front of us had also seen the cops chasing the white truck and also mentioned how they almost got hit themselves.

Finally, a woman in the front of the line pulled out and reversed direction. She drove up to us and told us what was going on. There had just been a fatal hit-and-run in Bylas, and the cops were chasing the motorist. It had just happened, and what we saw was the guy trying to evade the cops. Wow. Heavy news. We knew they weren't going to open the highway for a few hours. We milled around for about 30 minutes to plan an alternative peak, then headed westbound on US-70 back to Globe.

We get about twenty miles westbound, still east of the town of Peridot, and see more cop cars, lights, and ambulances. The highway here weaves through low hills and above small canyons. As I neared the action, I could see a whole section of guardrail had been taken out, the rail lying in a heap on the road, with all sorts of busted plastic and glass and bits of metal in the road. Two San Carlos Police deputies motioned me to stop. I explained we'd been caught up in the stoppage in Bylas and wanted to return to Globe. One guy radioed ahead and got the permission to allow me through.

As I drove through that one section of highway, I had to go slow to not run over any of the debris. I looked to my left and there was the white pickup truck, lying face-up in the bottom of the ravine, about 25 feet down. Its doors were open and the cab looked mostly intact. An ambulance was pulling away at the moment, so whoever was in the truck was likely now in the ambulance, going to a hospital. Clearly, the guy had bailed off the highway, hit the guardrail and down into the ravine.

Timber Camp Peak
• Salt River Canyon
• Tonto National Forest
• Gila County

Date: March 29, 2020 • Elevation: 6,527 feet • Prominence: 567 feet • Distance: 4.1 miles • Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes • Gain: 560 feet • Conditions: Clear • Teammate: Matthias Stender


With all that, we returned to Globe and debated peaks to do. It was clear we weren't going anywhere east today. We were a little bummed to be shut out of our peak, but this was tempered knowing that someone lost their life this morning, and the scoundrel who hit him and ran got himself caught. That guy won't be appreciating the great outdoors for at least the next two or three decades, as it should be.

It was now about 9 a.m. and we looked around for peaks to do. I suggested Timber Camp and nearby Rock Springs Butte. They looked logistically easy given we had no maps and were doing these extemporaneously. Fortunately, Matthias was willing to do some dinky peaks with me. So I drove us northbound (technically, eastbound) US-60 to where the highway crests a pass between Timber Camp Mountain and Carol Spring Mountain.

We looked at both entry points for the camping areas here. This area is geared toward big groups and horse owners, and usually, reservations are required. Today, the gates were shut partly due to the COVID19 situation. So we drove back to a third gate, on the land that rises above the road cut of the highway. We got our stuff together and then walked in past the gate, it just being a wire-stick gate with the only notice to keep it closed. Timber Camp Mountain was due west of our position.

Two forest roads start here. We did not know which one to follow so we guessed and went left (southerly). The road wandered and kept turning more south than west, so we turned back to the gate. We should have then followed the other road, but it angled so far to the right (north) that it did not seem like a good idea either. Neither road appears on the topographical map.

So we simply aimed west and started hiking through the trees and brush. It worked great for a few yards, then the tangly manzanita and mountain oak closed in. We followed lanes wherever we could and battled the brush and trees for about a half mile. It was slow going. But soon, we were out of the heavy forest and on the "main" road, a forest track that runs north-south from the other two main entrances farther north. Timber Camp's summit stood right above us, just a half-mile distant.

The road ends at the south end of the rim, so says the map, but in truth, it wiggles more west, actually going for quite a ways before finally ending, but well up into the trees near the saddle separating Peak 6527 and the hill to the north. The road cut off a lot of extra tedious "forest bashing".

The peak was now to the south, and all we had to do was march upslope through the trees. It was easy going, just steep with some sections of tangly undergrowth. Higher up, we came to a sloping band of cliffs, which were easy to clamber over. This put us on the broad top. We then spent a little bit wandering the top, looking for all the high rocks in the forest. Finally, we found a cairn with a stick, and signed in. This looked like a probable highest point, but so did a few other rocks. We gave anything possibly a highpoint a kick or a tag.

There are no views from up here. We spent about fifteen minutes having a snack. Hiking out, we had some good views looking north, where the cliffs of the Salt River Canyon could be seen about ten miles away. We hiked downhill until we caught the road again, then followed that out into the open. We wanted no more bushwhacking, so we stayed on the road northbound, seeing where it would go. It came to a split. We went right and followed the road as it meandered a lot ... but it eventually led back to the gate where we had parked.

Matthias' GPS said we covered 1.8 miles inbound, and 2.3 miles outbound. That extra half mile was the road, but in retrospect, we should have followed it both ways. Now we know better, which does not do us any good since we're not coming back for a repeat. Our total time on the hike was an hour and fifty minutes.

I was pleased to complete this hike. It's forested with no views, but not a bad hike. There appears to be views if one does not mind wandering more on the summit to some rock outcrops. Our next hike, Rock Springs Butte, was just a few miles southbound on US-60. We would be there in just ten minutes.

Rock Springs Butte
• Sevenmile Mountains
• Tonto National Forest
• Gila County

Elevation: 5,362 feet • Prominence: 562 feet • Distance: 1.6 miles • Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes • Gain: 590 feet • Conditions: Clear • Teammate: Matthias Stender


Rock Springs Butte lies southwest of Seven Benchmark and across the highway from Jackson Butte, about 30 miles north of Globe along US-60. Matthias and I were here hiking a couple peaks in the area, starting with Timber Camp Mountain about five miles to the north.

Timber Camp Mountain was a success, but the summit offered no views. I had suggested Rock Springs Butte as a second hike since it was close. I had intended to hike it after I hiked Seven Benchmark a year ago, but I came off Seven Benchmark scratched and annoyed from the heavy bushwhacking that peak entailed. So here we were again today, a good opportunity to tick off a couple peaks we had discussed doing at different times but did not do, for various reasons.

Rock Springs Butte is a small but prominent mountain, with steep slopes all around and a couple weak cliff bands too. It is best accessed from Tonto Forest Road 339, the same road I used when I hiked Seven Benchmark. From Timber Camp Mountain, I drove us to FR-339, through a gate, and about a quarter-mile to a wide area where I stashed the car. It was still early, about 10:30 a.m., the weather cool but clear and very pleasant.

We started walking, entering a small gully then up to a ridge emanating off of the mountain. The brush was fairly light and easy to get around. We walked up the ridge, following it to a saddle below the peak. We had gained about 250 feet. We were now on the main north-facing slope of the peak.

We started iup the steep slopes, which laid back well. The ground was somewhat brushy but with lanes to follow. This slope gained us another 200 feet, placing us now below the cliff band. Up close, it was just a pile of large rock outcrops and boulders, perhaps 15 feet tall but with plenty of ways to clamber up and above them. We were now on the final slope to the top.

The slope here was steep but safe, much less brushy but dotted with a few mid-sized junipers and other trees. The slope narrows to a point, the last fifty feet up through a sequence of red-colored rocks that naturally fractured in even lines, looking like someone laid down a brick retaining wall every twenty feet. This all led to the narrow summit, flat for about thirty feet, with steep slopes on either side. It had taken us just over a half-hour to ascend.

We sat for awhile up here, this being a rather nice summit. The narrow ridge and the steep slopes gave this summit an "airy" feeling. We had great views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. The register held a few names, one mentioning he had to dig to find the benchmark. We had no clue where he dug and weren't about to dig ourselves, so we let the benchmark stay hidden. I enjoyed this summit very much!

The hike down went well, as we retraced our route, mainly to descend the cliff rocks in the same places. We had no navigation problems and we were back to my car in a little over an hour, the whole hike covering just 1.6 miles round trip. But it was a hearty 1.6 miles, steep the whole way but never unsafe or annoying.

We were done with today's adventures. Matthias had a peak of his own he wanted to do so I dropped him off at his car in Globe, where we parted ways. I drove back to Payson, arriving in the early afternoon, doing my best to avoid any more people the rest of the day.

Rock Springs Butte is an enjoyable hike, a perfect second hike if peakbagging in the immediate area. It's steep and brushy and rocky, but never so much so to be a burden. The views from the top were fantastic.

(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.