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Browns Peak

April 25th, 2020

Length: 4.7 Miles

Route Type: Out & Back

Elevation Gain: 1,909 ft

Dog Friendly: No

Fee: No

Restrooms at trailhead: No

Video: click here

HOW TO GET THERE:

We left from North Scottsdale and took Shea Road East to the Beeline highway, also known has Arizona State Route 87. The Beeline highway is one of the most beautiful drives in the state as it goes through Fort McDowell Indian Reservation and then you enter the Tonto National Forest. From there we headed North towards Payson.  As you go North you see an amazing desert landscape dotted with unique saguaro cactus and transforming rock formation with rolling hills that demonstrate the exceptional beauty in Arizona. It’s easy to get caught up in the pure beauty of mother nature and the untouched land. In our trip we saw some free range cattle and horse as the Beeline highway follows the Salt River north. You’ll travel along the Beeline highway for about 13 miles until you get to a turn off on the right side of the road, on Apple maps it is labeled as Cline Cabin Road. However, on many maps it is also known as Forest Service Road 143. Coordinates are latitude 33.6783 longitude -111.5028. Stay on Forest Service Road 143 for about 17 miles. You’ll pass parking lots where people using off road vehicles often embark from. As you continue across the road you’ll come across other off shoot of roads. Continue until you come to the junction at Pigeon Spring Road. From there signage should indicate that you are close to the trailhead. You will make a sharp right onto Pigeon Spring Road and head south until the road heads into Lone Pine Trailhead. Trailhead Coordinates Latitude 33.7054, Longitude 111.3379.

It is important to note that when you get off onto the dirt road it is very bumpy until you get to the trailhead parking lot. Only off roading vehicles should attempt to go down this road. We took a Ford Ranger truck and it was extremely bumpy. It took us an hour and a half to get to the parking lot once we got to the dirt road. The dirt road is about 19 miles long and is VERY windy and bumpy. Be careful while driving so you don’t hit the plants/trees on the side of the road. We scratched up the truck we drove pretty badly. If you get car sick easily, this may not be the route you want to take.  With that being said the scenery is very beautiful. You can see the Superstition Mountains, including Weaver’s Needle and Flatiron. It starts off as desert landscape, but once you gain elevation if felt like we were heading up to Flagstaff because the vegetation changes. We went at the end of April and the weather was beautiful. It was high 70’s while we were hiking and once we got to the top it was cooler and we had a nice breeze. It got to the parking lot at about 9:00am. We got the last spot in the parking lot, but when we finished hiking we saw a lot of people parking on the side of the ride and at the look out spot. I would definitely suggest to get their as early as possible!

THE HIKE:

Browns Peak is the Northern most peak of the four peaks mountains. It is apart of the Mazatzal Mountain range. The parking lot sits at 5,700 ft and you will hike up to 7,659 ft. Browns Peak is the highest post in Maricopa county and is the highest point of all the four peaks. The hike starts of pretty flat and then starts a gradual incline. You are able to see Lake Roosevelt once you get high enough. When we first started the hike the elevation change from Phoenix to Four Peaks Wilderness winded me a little, but once we got going I was fine. The vegetation was a lot different than Phoenix. Some of the trees made us feel like it was October, not April because of the leaves colors. It also smelled like pine trees. The trail up is pretty easy to follow and there is some signage along the way. Once you can see Browns Peak pretty clearly you come across a sign that is pointing you up. The hike is easy up until this point. Once you pass this sign and start to head up you’ll be able to see where the hike requires you to climb. This is where the hike starts to get a little tricky.

THE CLIMB:

This part of the hike is classified as a class 4 climb. The last 0.5 miles you will need to scramble up a scree chute. This is where it gets very hard and you need to be careful. It is completely vertical and you are climbing up various sizes of rocks to get to the top. I would suggest to take it slow so you don’t lose your footing or grip. If you did there could be serious injuries, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. One of the most challenging parts about this is the amount of loose rocks. You can easily lose your footing and rocks can fall and could possibly injure the people below you. There are also hidden cacti among the rocks. Once you get to the top the scramble will be worth the view. When we hiked it was a clear day so we were able to see Humphrey’s Peak in Flagstaff from the top. Humphrey’s Peak is the highest point in Arizona. You can also see Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak in Phoenix. Once we got to the top we enjoy the view, took some photos, and ate our lunch. Don’t forget to pack a lunch and some snacks because you will be hungry once you get to the top. The way back down was more challenging the climbing up. So use cautious when you climb back down. It was a relieve once we got past to climbing part and back to the flat ground! Overall, our total time was 3 hours and 22 minutes. And our overall distance was 5.66 miles. This is based off of our Apple watches.

Going Up Browns Peak:

The descent from Browns Peak:


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