Location

  • Lone Pine Saddle to Sunflower

Length

  • 19.3 miles

Southern Trailhead: Pigeon Spring/Lone Pine Saddle Trailhead

Access

From the suspension bridge near Roosevelt Dam, drive north on AZ 188 for 11 miles and turn left (west) at mile marker 255 onto El Oso Rd. (FR 143). At 4.4 miles from the highway, the road appears to fork. Take the sharp right turn and follow the road as it climbs. Continue another 4.2 miles to an intersection with FR 422, (FR 143 continues on to the south, which is also the path of the AZT). The AZT arrives from the left (southeast) on FR 143. Drive 1 mile on FR 143 to an intersection, bear left onto FR 648, and continue almost another mile to Pigeon Spring Trailhead on the left.
To reach a larger, more developed parking area and trailhead at Lone Pine Saddle a bit farther on, continue 0.5 miles ahead. Parking here allows you to hike on singletrack into the Four Peaks Wilderness and meet the AZT in about 2 miles.


Northern Access Point: Sunflower

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 at the sign and drop into Sycamore Creek flood plain. Walk up stream following the cairns and across two drainages, follow the next drainage down to and across Sycamore Creek. Climb out of the creek bed, turn right and follow the trail to the AZT. A large metal sign marks the connection to the AZT.


Trail Route Description

From the Pigeon Spring Trailhead the route follows FR 648, intersects with FR 143, and turns right on this road to the junction with FR 422. This road heads northwest, then west and then north as it follows the ridgeline and keeps to roughly the same elevation. The route turns to the left (west) off of the road and onto singletrack trail at the 11.5 mile mark. After a short climb the trail begins a long descent towards the Sycamore Creek area. It crosses Boulder Creek several times, goes through a corral and a gate, and then parallels Boulder Creek. After crossing Sycamore Creek the trail works its way north and then west to Highway 87.


Difficulty

  • Moderate to Difficult

Season(s)

All year. Snow can be present at higher elevations after winter storms and lower elevations can be quite warm in summer


Water

Water can usually be found in Sycamore Creek. There is seasonal water at Circle M Spring, which is about 0.4 miles off of FR 422.


Notes/Warnings

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • The section of this passage along FR 422 passes through a heavy ponderosa and oak forest that has many nice campsites.

Resources

  • USGS Topographic Maps: Four Peaks and Boulder Mountain.
  • Tonto National Forest map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information


Current Passage Info

Bush Fire closure order lifted after 7 months

Payson Roundup (February 9, 2021) by Michele Nelson Call it a silver lining, the lack of a monsoon and little winter precipitation has given the Forest Service the confidence to open up the Four Peaks recreation area less than a year after the Bush Fire. The Arizona Trail Association has already spread the news on its website. As of Feb. 5, the Forest Service will lift the closure that shut down passages 20 and 21. Those passages represent 5% of the 800-mile-long trail that runs from Arizona’s border with Mexico to its border with Utah. The Rim Country hosts about 20% of the National Scenic Trail, from the base of Roosevelt Lake to the Mogollon Rim at Washington Park. The Bush Fire burned almost 200,000 acres of the Four Peaks recreation area between the Bush Highway near Phoenix and Tonto Basin near Roosevelt Lake. After the fire, the Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response team conducted tests to monitor the conditions. After an intense wildfire like the Bush Fire, the BAER team calculates the risk for mudflows as a result of exposed dirt on steep hillsides. The BAER team found the risk too great to the public, so it closed...
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Four Peaks Opens After Seven-Month Closure

Four Peaks Opens After Seven-Month Closure

On Friday, February 5 the Tonto National Forest rescinded the Bush Fire Closure Order that has affected over 32 miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail's Passages 20 (Four Peaks) and 21 (Pine Mountain) since the Bush Fire started in June of 2020. Thanks to the hard work of the Arizona Trail Association, Arizona Conservation Corps and Conservation Corps New Mexico, some of the hillsides impacted by the Bush Fire have been stabilized and deadfall has been removed. However, hikers should exercise extreme caution within severely burned areas with steep side slopes. Falling trees, sloughing hillsides, unstable soils, debris traveling downhill, and the possibility of flash floods during storms are all very real hazards. Consider postponing your adventure or taking a zero day if rain is in the forecast, especially within Four Peaks Wilderness of Passage 20 and the Boulder Canyon area of Passage 21. Kudos to our partners at the Tonto National Forest for securing funds necessary to address emergency stabilization of the Arizona Trail, and for trusting the ATA with trail conditions assessments within the burn zone. Routine maintenance will be needed throughout the Bush Fire burn scar for many years into the future, but working together we...
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Bush Fire Burn Severity Map

The Tonto National Forest recently released a burn severity map of the Bush Fire. To view the map, click here. During the summer of 2020, the Bush Fire burned 193,455 acres and forced a closure of the Arizona National Scenic Trail that will likely last until Spring of 2021. The Arizona Trail Association plans to conduct an on-the-ground trail conditions assessment as soon as it's safe to do so.
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Thinking of Thru-Hiking or Thru-Riding the Arizona Trail This Year?

Thinking of Thru-Hiking or Thru-Riding the Arizona Trail This Year?

Summertime is when hundreds of hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians are planning the logistics of a long-distance trip on the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT). Especially since many individuals canceled their springtime AZT adventures due to COVID-19, the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) has been anticipating the busiest autumn in history. However, Arizona’s intense wildfire season – with three major wildfires burning more than 100 miles of the AZT – and a recent spike in Arizona’s COVID-19 cases has led the ATA to discourage thru-hiking and thru-riding this year. We know how disappointing this is going to be for so many people. A southbound hike or ride from Utah to Mexico along the AZT is the adventure of a lifetime, and normally we would be encouraging everyone to use these uncertain times to hit the trail. But widespread trail closures with no safe or reasonable detours combined with Arizona becoming a global hot spot for the novel coronavirus has created an unsafe situation for “thrus” in 2020. In southern Arizona, the Bighorn Fire burned 120,000 acres on the Coronado National Forest, including AZT Passages 10, 11 and 12 through the Santa Catalina Mountains, as well as the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Bypass....
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Flickr Photos

Photos from the Arizona Trail Association’s Flickr galleries, for this specific passage. View the entire Flickr account.

[AFG_gallery id=’22’]