The Mountains of Arizona

Wright Hill
Wright Hill
Wright Hill
Approaching the top
Wright Hill
Top rocks, benchmark
Scarp Hill, Arizona
Scarp Hill
Scarp Hill, Arizona
The scarp on Scarp Hill
Scarp Hill, Arizona
The scarp as I ascend. Cool cloud effects
Scarp Hill, Arizona
View of the probable actual highpoint from the rock outcrop
Scarp Hill, Arizona
Now reversed, view of the rock outcrop from the highpoint area
Scarp Hill, Arizona
Red Mountain Lookout from Scarp's slope

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San Francisco Volcanic Field

Wright Hill • Scarp Hill

I had just hiked Round Mountain down by Stoneman Lake. With a very early start, I was finished with that peak by 7:30 a.m.. I had intended to hike another nearby peak in the area but it was already getting warm even at 5,900 feet elevation. So I bailed and headed more uphill to place myself in the high country around Flagstaff. I'd be about 2,000 feet higher in elevation which should make the temperatures more tolerable.

I now had a few hours open, but had not made any plans for any peaks in the immediate area. My main goal was to head toward Williams where Matthias and I would meet for some peaks tomorrow. I fell back on a couple ranked summits in the Parks area, roughly halfway between Flagstaff and Williams. Last year, I climbed just about every ranked hill in the area, but not all. I still had a few scattered ones I had not yet hiked. Wright Hill was one.

Wright Hill
• San Francisco Volcanic Field
• Kaibab National Forest
• Coconino County

Date: July 22, 2022 • Elevation: 7,826 feet • Prominence: 466 feet • Distance: 0.6 mile • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 496 feet • Conditions: Sunny and warm

ArizonaMainPBLoJUSGS BM DatasheetInteractive map

Wright Hill lies about five miles north of Parks in the community of Spring Valley. It rises suddenly above the local prairie, surrounded by small ranchette properties. The area is Kaibab National Forest but interspersed with private inholdings. The peak itself looks like a huge wart, a dome of rock and forest with no foothills and nearly symmetric on all sides.

The only legal way in that I knew of (and one I scouted last year) is a forest easement through a small private street of homes. The forest track bends left before the first home and comes to a gate. I got out, opened it, drove through then closed it. The road was pretty good. I drove in about a mile until I was roughly northwest of the hill, far enough back from anyone's backyard. I parked in a clearing underneath tall ponderosa.

This northwest ridge looked promising. I packed light and started uphill, the grade getting steep quickly. The trees kept me shaded which was nice, as it was warm even up this high. The hiking was not difficult, just steep. Up high I saw a couple large elk bust through the trees and brush. In about twenty minutes I was on the high "ridge". Looking to the south a little I saw the land slope up a little more. Up here, it looked like a park, with green grass and trees to the side.

I was soon at the summit, the top featuring a small batch of rocks. I found benchmark "Gray" in one of the rocks. I signed into the register, which held a lot of names. Lots of people come up here, perhaps a handful each months when the weather is nice. I assume mostly locals. The views were limited by the trees.

I hiked down the same way back to my car, the round trip taking a little under an hour. I changed and drove out, back onto Spring Valley Road. My next peak was supposed to be the Moritz Ridge Highpoint, but I could not locate the side road that showed on the map that supposedly linked up with other tracks up to Moritz's top. I cancelled the hike immediately, aware I needed to do more homework.

Since I was in the area, I knew of another ranked peak I could visit, Scarp Hill. I had no map but I knew how to get there, after scouting the area last August when I hiked Red Hill Lookout. That's where I headed next.

Scarp Hill

Elevation: 7,450 feet • Prominence: 570 feet • Distance: 3.5 miles • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 565 feet • Conditions: Hot


This peak lies a couple miles west of Red Hill Lookout, which I hiked almost exactly a year ago. I did not have any maps but knew the general road layout from my visit last year. I was near the junction of FR-144 (the road I was on) and FR-88, which heads northwest toward Red Hill Lookout, the most visible physical feature in these here parts if looking that way. I started driving in on FR-88, which is denoted as FR-430 on the topo maps (hold on, I feel a rant coming on ...). This road was like I remembered it a year ago: flat, not rocky but often uneven with mudpits, ponds and bad tread from other drivers coming through when much muddier.

I was able to drive it with no problems but had to take detours to the side of the road when coming on to the bigger mudpits, which begs the question if these are always here. Slightly past where a road bends right toward Red Hill Lookout, I made a 90-degree turn left onto FR-792 (noted as FR-432 on the map) and drove that in about a mile. This road was marginal with more standing mud pits and ponds. I got to where it junctions with FR-791 (FR-433 on the map). I needed to go right (northwest) on FR-791 but the road here was very rocky. I parked near the junction, as I was just a mile from the peak anyway.

It was about 11 a.m. and hot. My car's temperature thing said it was 87 degrees outside, which is hot for this elevation. It was sunny and buggy. Some small storm clouds seemed to be developing over Humphreys Peak to the east. I packed extra drinks and started walking.

I walked downhill on FR-791. It drops about 40 feet, and then the road's quality improves. In fact, it's an excellent road and I could have easily driven in to the base of the peak if I could have got past that rocky segment. I have a Subaru Forester. Any beefier rig with good clearance and tires should be fine on it. It may require 4-wheel drive for that short stretch. In any case, noting that it was a good road meant little to me since I had to walk it. It did make the walking go by fast.

In about twenty minutes I was closing in on Scarp Hill. From a distance, it has a trapezoid shape, the presumptive highpoint on the north lobe and a rock outcrop on its south lobe, and a fascinating cliff band that runs up the side of the hill, cliffs up to 50 feet tall. This must be the scarp for which Scarp Hill is named for. It is a really cool piece of geology and I got a couple images you can view.

The slopes looked better more toward the right (east) of the peak, but I would follow what I could as opportunities presented themselves. The southeast slope is mostly bare due to a long-ago fire, but it has bands of light forest too, mostly juniper and other mid-sized trees, no big ponderosa. The grade steepened little by little and I was soon on the main slopes heading uphill.

By now, temperatures were into the 90s and I was uncomfortable. I had plenty of liquids with me so I was good to go. But I moved slowly and generally went from one shady spot to the next, briefly resting each time. Now and then a breeze would come and go and cool me down a little. After about a half hour, I was on top the small saddle between the two ends of the ridge. Up here it was open with dead burned tree husks. I angled right and trudged up to the "summit", a completely uninteresting hump of dirt, light grass and dead trees. I looked south at the rock outcrop. It looked lower by a few feet but too close to call, and besides, it looked interesting.

I walked back to the saddle then up toward the rock outcrop, which lies above that scarp band mentioned earlier. Approaching it directly, it stood about 15 feet high and a steep scramble from this side, but there's a cleft in the center of this outcrop. I eased up and into it, then "around back" and found a better way to the top. This was a low-end scramble but not exposed and just Class-2. The rock is agglutinate, which forms in jagged shapes and can be sharp to the touch. That was the main challenge, to scamper up it with minimal cuts. I was able to stand upon the highest rock.

My gut says the north lobe is probably higher by just a couple feet, but the southern one with the rock outcrop is much more interesting and enjoyable. They're so close that it's nonsense not to visit both.

Okay, like I was seriously hot by now. Plus, the storms were developing. It was all dark clouds shrouding Humphreys now, and I could see lightning and hear thunder. It was still sunny above me, and I wasn't terribly concerned about being hit by lightning. Nevertheless, I hustled down the slope quickly. This slope was ideal for fast movement downward: it was almost all marble-size volcanic cinders that move with each step, so I could take a big step, it would catch me, and I would slide downward an extra foot or two. My bigger concern was the roads. If the storms dumped a lot of rain on the roads, I could be stuck for awhile.

Once down off the mountain, I got back onto the road and walked "with authority" back to my car. I did not run because (a) it would be unseemly for a man of my social status to run, and (b) because I can't. But I covered ground quickly and got my hot and sweaty butt into the car. I didn't change or relax or text my pals. I started driving immediately.

The rain was visible just ahead of me. I could not tell how far away it was but it was no more than a couple miles, a huge veil of rain. I drove quickly back to FR-88, then calmed down a little when it was clear I'd be fine. I still had to drive carefully and power through a couple mudpits. The worst stuff is the mud that looks like its dry dirt, then as you drive through it, you feel your car yaw and skid, discovering it's just a shell of dryness over heavy mud. Then when you get back onto firmer tread, you hear all that muddy stuff rattle off the tires into the tire wells and undercarriage. I was back onto Spring Valley Road, with a much better all-weather gravel surface. Had I been a half-hour later, I might have got some of that rain on those muddy roads.

It was just a little before 1 p.m. now. I had a hotel room in Williams set aside, but it was still too early to go there. I had another peak on the agenda, but did not want to do anything for now except relax. I drove back to the Texaco at the Parks exit off interstate-40 and sat for a spell. I topped the gas and washed some mud off my car's windshield. This is not a modern "gas plaza" but a simple country store that so happens to contract with Texaco. There's just one island of four pumps. The mini-mart sells a little of everything and also has the town's post office boxes. It has a cool vibe, so I stuck around for about 90 minutes.

There was a food truck nearby and some guy selling really cool bowls made from wood. He makes them himself and they are beautiful, so I bought one for my wife. I stuck around to chat too. He was a cool guy, and I enjoyed my couple hours of chillin' in Parks.

I soon got on to the highway and drove west a few miles into Williams. It was nearly 3 p.m. and still hot, but with some of the clouds drifting westward. I had one more peak on the agenda, Peak 7073. It would be my last for the afternoon.

Rant: In the Kaibab National Forest, none of the forest road numbers on the map match the forest road numbers in the field, except for the major thoroughfare roads like Spring Valley Road. This is inexplicable. What possible good can having such a mismatch be? Suppose someone gets stuck and has to call for help and the directions get confusing because of all the mismatched numbers. And why go through all that trouble. There is no pattern to the numbering that I can tell. It appears the map numbering is newer because the numbers in the field are on those old plastic sticks and look ancient in some cases. Is the Kaibab Forest Ranger headquarters aware of this? I have to wonder if someone making the maps just pulled numbers out of their backside when labeling the roads. There's clearly no effort to update the road sticks with the new numbers. This isn't an issue on the other Forest properties, just the Kaibab.

(c) 2022 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. .