Picketpost Mountain Trail
Picketpost Mountain Trail is a 6.8 km out and back hike that leads you up a dramatic, isolated butte in the Tonto National Forest. Previously used as a battleground in efforts by Geroge Stoneman to seize this land from the Yavapai, the butte is now an area for campers and hikers to appreciate Arizona’s rugged scenery. At the top, make sure you bring a little note to place in the mailbox. You can also read the notes from previous hikers.
This trail is rated as hard and isn’t the best choice for families or beginners. There’s lots of elevation to be gained for a relatively short hike, and you’ll be out in the sun for the entire route. Bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen and a hat, and avoid hiking this trail between June and August when the temperatures soar.
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Route Description for Picketpost Mountain Trail
Back in the late 1800s, General George Stoneman and his troops chose the base of Picketpost Mountain as the site of their camp. They sought to seize the land from the native Yavapai and planned to use the butte as a natural barrier. The mountain was given its current nickname by these troops.
On the summit of Picketpost stands a single red mailbox. Feel free to bring a letter to leave for future hikers and to read notes left by visitors before you. You could also leave some trail magic here- previous hikers have found beer, cookies, and other treats in the mailbox.
This is a hard hike with a bit of scrambling required. It’s also very hot for a large portion of the year. For these reasons, we recommend leaving kids and dogs at home and planning to bring more water and sunscreen than you think you might need.
The route begins at the Picketpost Trailhead. You’ll follow the Arizona Trail, which runs through the whole state from top to bottom, for the first 0.3 km. Watch for signage here that directs you to the summit. After the signage, you’ll look for spray painted white dots and blue chalk arrows to help you find your way.
Hike through a couple of gradual switchbacks, admiring the stately saguaro cacti that stand guard over the trail.
Your view opens up as you climb, giving you a nice vantage point over the Superstition Mountains. Look for Weavers Needle.
Just under a mile into the hike, the grade increases and the path becomes a bit more vague. Watch for the aforementioned trail markers. You’ll need to climb over a large white rock and then watch for a painted arrow marking the way.
Prepare for a bit of light scrambling next; it’s nothing too challenging or dramatic but it is hands-on. Say right after your scramble to crest the plateau that marks the final ascent to the top of the butte. The last stretch of the trail is more gentle.
4.0 km in, look for a left turn up a rocky path. The arrow here makes it seem like you need to go straight, but you’ll have to keep left.
At the mailbox, take a peek at the notes and trinkets left behind. Leave your own if you have them. Take in the wide-open view before preparing to retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Hiking Route Highlights
One of the features of your view on the Picketpost Mountain Trail is Weavers Needle, a 305 m tall rock column that can be seen for miles in all directions. The column was created by a thick layer of fused volcanic ash that was eroded over many years. The feature was named after hiker Pauline Weaver and is featured heavily in stories about the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a pass for Picketpost Trail?
No, there is no pass or permit required for this hike.
Is Picketpost Mountain always open?
This area is subject to closure for wildfires. If there are fires in the area, you’ll need to plan to return another time.
Can you camp at Picketpost Mountain?
You can camp for up to 1 night in this area. You can’t park overnight at the trailhead, but there is a dispersed camping area nearby.
Insider Hints for Picketpost Mountain Trail
- Pack some tweezers. There are lots of cacti on this trail and it’s a bit too easy to brush up against one on narrower sections of the route.
Getting to the Picketpost Mountain Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for the Picketpost Mountain Trail is on Alamo Canyon Road off State Route 80.
Picketpost Mountain Trail Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
Picketpost Mountain Trail Reviews
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