- Tonto National Forest Boundary to Picketpost Trailhead
Southern Access Point: Tonto National Forest Boundary
- GPS Coordinates: 33.18106° N, 111.13717° W
- NOTE: This trailhead is not directly accessible by vehicles. See adjoining passages for access.
The closest way to access the southern end of Passage 17 is to hike in from the Picketpost Trailhead (11.5 miles), or drive to the historic town of Cochran (follow Cochran Road south from the Florence-Kelvin Highway to the Gila River), cross the Gila River carefully, then hike north on the Arizona Trail for 9.3 miles. Forest Road 4 (Telegraph Canyon Road) is currently blocked south of the town of Superior due to mineral exploration activities. There is currently no way to access the Arizona Trail from this rugged jeep trail.
Northern Trailhead: Picketpost Trailhead
From Florence Junction, drive east on US 60 for 9 miles. After mile marker 221, continue 0.5 miles and turn right (south) onto FR 231 (this point is 4 miles west of the town of Superior on US 60.) Drive 0.4 miles and turn left onto FR 310. Continue 0.6 miles, and then turn right at a sign for Picketpost Trailhead. You will see the large metal AZT sign marking the trailhead in 0.1 miles. There is no vehicle access to the Tonto National Forest boundary from here.
Trail Route Description
This passage begins at a gate just north of the Tonto National Forest boundary about 0.4 miles due west of Ajax Peak. From here the trail climbs briefly and then drops down into a drainage about 1 mile in. After crossing this drainage it climbs up to the high point for this passage at 3,780 feet. It then begins a gradual descent over roughly 2.3 miles until it arrives at FR 4.
After crossing FR 4 the trail continues west and turns north, contouring around several small drainages. At just over 8 miles from the beginning the trail makes a hard turn to the west and begins working its way around Picketpost Mountain. The trail wraps around to the west side of Picketpost and somewhat parallels the Alamo Canyon drainage. After crossing Alamo Canyon it reaches the end of the passage at the Picketpost Trailhead.
There are no reliable water sources on this passage. Check the online Arizona Trail Water Report for current information at https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/.
- All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
- The Tonto National Forest is closing the gate at Picketpost TH between dusk and dawn now. There’s a site host there overnight so folks won’t get locked in, but no late night arrivals.
- There is no longer access to the Arizona Trail from Forest Road 4.
- USGS Topographic Maps: Teapot Mountain, Mineral Mountain and Picketpost Mountain.
- Tonto National Forest map.
For more information
Current Passage Info
January 18, 2022
Backpacker Magazine (January 14, 2022) by Kelly Bastone From climate change to drilling and mining, various threats promise to wipe out what’s best about America’s 12 most endangered trails. Hike them now to admire ancient glacial ice, hear howling wolves, splash at pristine beaches, and admire ancient art galleries. Arizona Trail, Tonto National Forest, Arizona The views from 4,377-foot Picketpost Mountain couldn’t be more Arizona: red dirt expanses and dusky hills pocked with 20-foot-tall saguaro cactuses, craggy desert towers. Yet, there, amid arguably one of the prettiest stretches of the 800-mile Arizona Trail, machines will begin digging the Resolution Copper Mine in as soon as three years. The operation will affect popular rock climbing in the area and inch scary-close to Native American archaeological sites. Tackle the Superior section of the Arizona Trail now, before the planned reroute around the mine leads hikers away from Picketpost’s iconic vista. From the Picketpost trailhead, follow the Arizona Trail south for .3 mile, then take the 2-mile spur to Picketpost’s 360-degree summit view. Return to the Arizona Trail, and follow it 9 more miles past saguaros and eroded rock knobs to camp at Trough Springs (BYO water). Return the way you came. To...
June 30, 2021
12 News (Jun 29, 2021) by Brahm Resnik In the wake of the devastating Telegraph wildfire east of the Valley, questions have been raised about the potential role of military aircraft in sparking the fire. Here's what we know: Wildfire's impact on area The wildfire has charred almost 200,000 acres of pristine wilderness and forced hundreds of people to evacuate. It is now 91 percent contained. The U.S. Forest Service has labeled the fire as "human-caused" and continues to investigate. “They have a pretty good idea of where the point of origin is,” one of the fire commanders told the Town of Superior Council on June 10. Forest Service investigators could not be reached for comment. Why focus on military aircraft? When people in the Superior area saw smoke early on the afternoon of June 4 in a remote wilderness to the south, there were suggestions on social media that military jets were to blame. Military aircraft are a common sight in Eastern Arizona. The airspace high above the rugged landscape is a vast training ground for pilots. Pilots practice mock dog fights and other maneuvers in designated airspace. "Arizona Trail hikers will comment on how low you see them dip...
September 5, 2019
On August 30-31, a dedicated crew of eight Arizona Trail Association volunteers joined Assistant Trail Director Zach MacDonald to venture into a particularly remote segment of the Arizona Trail to install an AZT Rainwater Collector. This unit is the first of its kind and was designed by the Arizona Trail Association and metalsmith extraordinaire Rob Bauer in consultation with sustainability professionals, land managers and engineers. It features a steel apron that catches rainwater and stores the precious resource within a 1,500-gallon tank that is protected on all sides by steel panels. A spigot with an automatic shutoff valve allows trail users to fill and filter their bottles along this very dry and exposed segment of the Arizona Trail. Once the tank is full, an overflow pipe fills a steel water trough nearby for the benefit of wildlife. The entire unit is fenced to keep livestock out, and posted signs inform trail users that the water must be filtered before consumption. The AZT Rainwater Collector is located halfway between reliable water sources at the Gila River and a windmill near Picketpost Trailhead. This particular 21-mile segment has repeatedly proven to be daunting for many hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. Covering the...
Photos from the Arizona Trail Association’s Flickr galleries, for this specific passage. View the entire Flickr account.