by Jason Cleghorn aka @hikingjason
This hike was what really got me excited about climbing mountains aka peakbagging and ‘getting out’ of Phoenix to see ‘what else is out there’. I absolutely fell in love with the Hieroglyphic Mountains the first time I ever went out there. I am not kidding when I say this, but in many ways, this area is more remote than the Superstition Wilderness because out of five trips out there, I’ve seen another human once. I ALWAYS see tons of people in the Superstitions. Most people that know me know that while I’m definitely a social person (hello, I’m on social media) when I hike I often like to go where the people aren’t. This fits that bill without the remoteness of the Peralta TH in the Superstitions or other remote places.
About the hike itself, you’ll begin at an unmarked trailhead but you can tell its a TH because there’s a very large parking area on both sides of the road. There are no interpretive markers but there are cairns everywhere out here. At about the 3.90 mile mark, is where the fun begins. You’ll intersect with the Big Jim Trail here.
The last 150-200 feet will require class 3/4 scrambling to reach the summit. There’s plenty of room on the summit and pay attention for a carving made in the 1930s by another adventurer before you.
After you summit, its back down the way you came. You can go left back to the TH at the Big Jim, Walking Jim summit or head right and make the hike a loop.
Let me know what you think about this hike!
Where is it: In the Hieroglyphic Mountains just northwest of Lake Pleasant near Phoenix, AZ
How do you get there: Travel about 5 miles north on Castle Hot Springs Rd. from West State Rd. 74 (Carefree Hwy) about 1 mile south of the 2nd (north exit). TH Coordinates: 33.9042, -112.32613
Lists of John link: http://listsofjohn.com/peak/77479
What kind of hike is it: Can be done as a loop hike or an out and back
How long is it: Between 10-12 miles depending on whether you complete the loop
Accumulated Elevation Gain: ~2400 ft.
What trails are involved: Walkin’ Jim Trail and Big Jim Trail at Cottonwood Creek (to the summit)
How long will it take: Between 5.5 hours and 7 hours depending on your speed
Is it scary: The last 150 to 200 feet of the summit push are Class 3/4 scrambling but limited exposure. No rope needed!
What animals might you see: Coyote, wild burro, tarantulas (yes) Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Domestic cows (moo)
Do I need water: Always and I wouldn’t rely on Cottonwood Creek having water. Bring at least 2-3L.
Who will like this hike: People who seek solitude and a challenge. Beginner mountaineers, and those tired of the same Phoenix mountains!
For more info: http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=16421
@hikingjason rating: 5 hiking boots out of 5