Picketpost Mountain, Arizona, March 2019

On Wednesday, March 6, I joined the Southern Arizona Hiking Club (SAHC) for a climb of Picketpost Mountain, a peak rising to the west above Superior, Arizona. Picketpost Mountain has only 4375 feet of elevation but 1455 feet of topographic prominence, making it the 160th most prominent peak in Arizona.

Picketpost Mountain from the Arizona Trail
Picketpost Mountain from the Arizona Trail

Picketpost Mountain is one of the 415 Southern Arizona Hiking Club Peaks and one of the 45 SAHC “Emblem Peaks”. From US Highway 60 the mountain appears surrounded by high cliffs and steep, narrow gullies. I have wanted to visit it since Linda and I visited the nearby Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park a few years ago.

Picketpost Mountain from low on the Picketpost Mountain Trail
Picketpost Mountain from low on the Picketpost Mountain Trail

John Ohm led the outing. He plans to complete the list of SAHC Emblem Peaks this spring. I hope to eventually visit all of them as well. So I was pleased to join him and the others on this outing. I expected a fun day on a beautiful peak.

The route traverses right above the slabs into the Northwest Gully
The route traverses right above the slabs into the Northwest Gully

The climbing route starts heading south from the Picketpost Mountain Trailhead on the Arizona National Scenic Trail. It continues on the Picketpost Trail that heads up into a steep drainage that carves a cleft in the cliffs guarding the mountain. I call this cleft the Northwest Gully.

Scrambling up the Northwest Gully in morning shade
Scrambling up the Northwest Gully in morning shade

We encountered some scrambling up the Northwest Gully but the rock was generally firm and the exposure was moderate. The trail was marked by cairns and it was usually obvious. But there were a few variations to choose between.

The Northwest Gully opens up to reach the summit plateau
The Northwest Gully opens up to reach the summit plateau

The trail eventually reached more open ground and led to the summit plateau and the open and scenic summit.

East towards Pinal Peak and El Capitan Mountain from Picketpost Mountain summit
East towards Pinal Peak and El Capitan Mountain from Picketpost Mountain summit

A benchmark, metal bench, and mailbox decorated the summit. Here we had plenty of room to relax and enjoy the views. I especially enjoyed viewing Pinal Peak, El Capitan Mountain, and Mount Turnbull to the east, all of which I have visited in years past.

John Ohm on the summit of Picketpost Mountain, his 300th Southern Arizona Hiking Club Peak
John Ohm on the summit of Picketpost Mountain, his 300th Southern Arizona Hiking Club Peak

John celebrated summiting his 300th SAHC Peak on Picketpost Mountain and will receive club recognition for that. I wonder if John will be eventually tempted to visit 400 of them. Some club members have.

Northwest towards Superstition Benchmark and Weaver's Needle
Northwest towards Superstition Benchmark and Weaver’s Needle

After lunch we descended the same route with a few variations. From above the gully to the northwest I viewed Superstition Ridge which I visited last year. Weaver’s Needle rises to the east of it, an impressive tower that someday I hope to climb. The descent down the gully required some routefinding and we encountered and avoided a few cliffs. The rock was stable and fun to descend.

Picketpost Mountain was a fairly short climb, but the experience was fun and very scenic and I expect to return someday.

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 Cascades Range and other ranges in the Western United States.
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