North Star Peak, Arizona, December 2019

North Star Peak from Forest Hill, Little Rincon Mountains
North Star Peak from Forest Hill, Little Rincon Mountains

I first saw North Star Peak from the summit of Forest Hill, the highpoint of the Little Rincon Mountains, last March. It appeared to be an interesting peak and worth a visit. So I was eager to join other Southern Arizona Hiking Club members early December to climb it.

Low on our approach we followed an intermittent stream towards our peak
Low on our approach we followed an intermittent stream towards our peak

We met Tuesday morning, December 17, drove to the east side of the Rincon Mountains, and parked along Ash Creek. Our route followed Ash Creek upstream a short distance, passed through a gate, and followed an old rancher’s trail along an intermittent stream northeast towards Hidden Pasture.

We passed these terraced pools separated by little waterfalls
We passed these terraced pools separated by little waterfalls

We crossed the stream several times and passed through a scenic spot of pools and waterfalls. None of us fell in.

Our first view up the northwest gully
Our first view up the northwest gully

The morning was cold and breezy but fortunately we were sheltered from most of the wind. The sky was clear and the sunshine and shadows enhanced the contrast of the rocky slopes around us.

Climbing up the northwest gully of North Star Peak
Climbing up the northwest gully of North Star Peak

Eventually we arrived below the northwest gully that led up towards the upper saddle of North Star Peak. The gully was steep, grassy, and rocky. But other than some catclaw the brush was minimal and we made good time up the slope.

The North Star summit was a short scramble above the upper saddle
The North Star summit was a short scramble above the upper saddle

We took a quick break at the upper saddle, then climbed the last few hundred feet to the rocky summit just out of view.

We enjoyed the summit views while sheltering as best we could from a cold wind
We enjoyed the summit views while sheltering as best we could from a cold wind
Mica Mountain (left) and Forest Hill (right), highpoints of the Rincon and Little Rincon Mountains
Mica Mountain (left) and Forest Hill (right), highpoints of the Rincon and Little Rincon Mountains

The summit was colder and windier than our ascent so we did not spend a long time there. We found the summit register and entered our names, had a quick lunch, and I took several photos.

Rincon Peak and our view down the northwest gully from the summit
Rincon Peak and our view down the northwest gully from the summit

We descended our same route. Low in the northwest gully a large rock broke free and began rolling towards several of us. Fortunately it soon stopped and no one was crushed. One of us sprained his ankle (we later learned he broke it) rushing out of the fall line but was able to hike out on his own, avoiding a cold bivouac.

A large pool fed by a tall but narrow waterfall, likely a torrent during the monsoon
A large pool fed by a tall but narrow waterfall, likely a torrent during the monsoon

It was a beautiful day, with grand views of the Rincon Mountains to our west and rocky slopes around us, pleasant walking beside a scenic stream, and the company of good companions.

Paul McClellan

About Paul McClellan

I had the good fortune to have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, where I discovered the joys and addiction of hiking and climbing in the Cascade Mountains and other mountain ranges in the Western United States.
This entry was posted in Climbing, Hiking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to North Star Peak, Arizona, December 2019

  1. Avatar Debra Van Winegarden says:

    Hi Paul,
    Great to meet you and Linda on the road today. You are a true adventurer judging from your website. The breath of your explorations is astonishing. Tomas and I were thinking of climbing North Star this week so I was pleased to see it here on your blog.

    My blog is limited compared with yours but you can poke around in it. From the Index, click on Southern AZ to see where I’ve been in the local mountains.

    We’d love to go hiking with you if that appeals.

    Debra

    Earthline: The American West, http://debravanwinegarden.blogspot.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *