Passage #22 - Saddle Mountain


Entering the Mazatzal Wilderness Location:  Sunflower to Mount Peeley

Length:  16.0 miles

Southern Trailhead:  Sunflower
- GPS Coordinates:  33.86250° N, 111.47278° W
- Access: From Phoenix, take AZ 87 north to FR 22 (Bushnell Tanks Road). Turn right and park at the gate about 150 yards off the highway. This road is currently closed to vehicle traffic by Tonto National Forest. You can walk down the road about 0.5 miles and turn right onto a doubletrack just before you reach a cattleguard. Follow this road about 300 yards to a grove of large sycamore trees. Look for the AZT mark in the southwest corner of the grove. A short spur trail crosses Sycamore Creek and leads up to the AZT in about 200 yards. A large metal sign marks the connection to the AZT.

Northern Trailhead:  Mount Peeley Trailhead
- GPS Coordinates:  34.00219° N, 111.47724° W
- Access: Usually closed for winter and not advised when wet. Drive 4.75 miles northeast of Sunflower on AZ 87 past mile marker 222 and, at the top of the long climb, turn left (west) on to FR 627A. Drive 1.25 miles on this winding paved road to a junction with a gravel road entering from the right. Cross the cattle guard and drive another 1.25 miles to a 3-way junction; stay right on to FR 201 and continue 9.5 miles along this narrow, twisting road to the Mount Peeley Trailhead and a small parking area. The AZT is 0.5 miles west of the parking lot along the Cornucopia Trail (#86) where Passage 22 lies to the south, and Passage 23, also called the Mazatzal Divide Trail, heads north.

Trail Route Description:  From the Highway 87 underpass, the trail follows a drainage west a short distance and then turns right. It goes through one gate and then another and then swings north and through another gate. It continues northwest, reaches yet another gate, goes up a drainage, crosses it and gets to another gate. It then passes under twin powerlines and comes to a trail junction marked by a steel AZT sign. Cross F TH is 0.5 miles to the right/east. A turn to the left here, through another gate and the trail begins working up a drainage. It goes over a low saddle and follows another drainage, curving around to the north and then northeast, reaching the junction with Saddle Mountain Trail 91. Mormon Grove TH is 0.5 miles to the east. The AZT follows Trail 91 north to the junction with Sheep Creek Trail 88. It takes Trail 88 a short mile, dropping into wooded McFarland Canyon (great camping) where it takes Thicket Spring Trail 95 downstream east for 0.5 mile, across the Wilderness boundary to a sharp left turn up out of the canyon. Another mile and it reaches the junction with West Fork Trail 260, portions of which were rebuilt in 2015. The AZT takes this new route east, dropping steeply into an unnamed canyon and reaches the Cornucopia Trail 86, where it turns sharply left/north and follows the drainage 1.5 miles to the junction with the Thicket Spring Trail 95. A right (east) turn here and another mile climbing and the trail reaches the Mazatzal Divide Trail junction marked with a steel AZT sign and the end of the passage. Mt Peeley TH, a remote TH accessible in dry conditions is 0.5 miles east.

Difficulty:  Moderate

Season(s):  All year. Snow can be present at higher elevations after winter storms and lower elevations can be quite warm in summer (current weather forecast)

Water:  Water can sometimes be found at an unnamed spring near the 2.3 mile mark, a stock tank near the 3.9 mile mark, the streambed around 5.7 miles and in McFarland Canyon.

A spring in the Mazatzals Notes/Warnings:

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Mountain bikes are prohibited in the Mazatzal Wilderness.

Resources:

  • USGS Topographic Maps: Boulder Mountain, Reno Pass, Lion Mountain and Mazatzal Peak.
  • Tonto National Forest map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information, contact:


Current Trail Information:


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