The Mountains of Arizona •
Willow Spring Mountain • Verde River Valley
• Tonto National Forest
• Maricopa County

Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
The summit is the high bump in the center.
Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
The top is in view as I hike the upper ridge.
Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
The top is nigh.
Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
View south from the summit at Kentuck and Maverick Butte Peaks.
Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
East view of the Verde River, and Horseshoe Lake (I think).
Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
View northwest of Humboldt Mountain with its FAA dome.
Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
North view, the Cedar Mountains.
Willow Spring Mountain, Arizona
View of the ridges I followed up and back.

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Date: February 25, 2020 • Elevation: 4,980 feet • Prominence: 460 feet • Distance: 4 miles • Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes • Gain: 590 feet net, 1,250 feet gross • Conditions: Sunny and cold with a strong breeze


Willow Spring Mountain is one of the many peaks along a long ridge that lies east of Tonto National Forest Road 24, and west of the Verde River. I've come here a number of times in recent months to systematically "clean up" the peaks up here. This particular peak lies south of Humboldt Mountain (with the FAA radome on its summit) and north of Maverick Butte.

I left home at 6 a.m. and took the usual route into Cave Creek, onto FR-24 and into the hinterlands. I would not have to drive that far in, just 5 miles beyond the end of the pavement. The sun was rising as I drove these roads, and as usual, no one was here. The day was sunny and cloudless, but cold for now, with a strong breeze.

I drove to the access road to Humboldt Mountain (FR-567). I then drove this road about a mile and a half, parking atop a broad hill, elevation 4,380 feet. I suited up and started hiking at 7:30 a.m.. It was cold, about 35 degrees, and the breeze made it feel colder. I was bundled up well.

I walked up the road about a half-mile, up a grade to where the road bends left. Here, a dirt track leaves the main road and drops into a drainage, eventualy ending at Humboldt Tank. This road offered a good path to follow. It was steep and a little muddy from a storm from about three days ago.

The road bottomed out (a loss of about 210 feet), then rose a couple dozen feet. I left the road at a random spot and walked through shin-high grass and occasional brush, aiming for a low ridge not far ahead, this being the ridge that connects Humboldt and Willow Spring Mountains.

The summit is visible from here (and at points farther back, but I wasn't sure at those moments). It lie to the southeast, conveniently in the direction of the morning sun. Photos were out of the question for now. I couldn't really look that way either, due to the brightness. I hiked along the ridge and seemed to glean a faint path along the ridge. It would go for a few dozen feet, wither away, then reappear. It did not seem like a game path.

I hiked up one steep slope to gain a ridge ahead of me, elevation about 4,780 feet. I then angled east and aimed for the summit, now just a half-mile away. I dropped about 120 feet to a saddle, then up a slope to a small hill west of the summit, down that, and up to the proper summit. Hiking and navigation was easy, and that trail seemed to help whenever I found it, although it was easy going wih or without any path. The one-way hike took 75 minutes, covering about 2 miles.

On top, the breeze stayed strong and it was very chilly. I stopped and had a snack, and found a register in a small cairn about dead-center on the rounded summit hump. It was placed here in 2003, and held just six names from four visits, and none after 2010. I doubt I am the first to hike this hill in nearly 10 years. But this peak does not likely see many people ever. The original signer mentioned following a path. It was probably more evident 17 years ago.

I took a few moments to admire the views. The Verde River was below, about 2,500 feet lower down. To the south I could see nearby peaks such as Maverick Butte and Kentuck Mountain, and way off to the southeast, Weavers Needle! To the north was Humboldt Mountain and its dome, and farther north the West and East Cedar Mountains. To the west were Butte Peak and Quien Sabe Peak.

I also took a few moments to stop and remind myself that life could be worse. I am in the middle of a move, and will be out of Scottsdale by mid-March. I am happy to be moving, but stressed too. I miss my wife, as she is in Maryland. Here I am on a Tuesday hiking a peak no one goes to, enjoying the country and solitude. The past three years in Scottsdale has been hell, and I am happy to be leaving. I have no idea what the future brings, but look forward to finding out. This is good medicine for my head.

I hiked down the way I came up, and made good time. I emerged onto the pavement just as a Maricopa Sheriff's truck was rushing uphill ... maybe someone was tampering with an FAA dome? I waved hi. I was back to my car not long thereafter. As I was changing, the Sheriff truck was motoring downhill, probably with a couple ne'er-do-wells cuffed in the back for dome-tampering.

I was at my vehicle a little before 10 a.m., plenty of time to drive out, shower, change and go to work. I felt good, and pleasantly tired.

(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.