Hualapai Peak, Wilson Mountain


By: Pete Yamagata


As a warning about possibly imagining easy summiteering by the maps or names of these trails, here are my accounts while exploring on my 2002 Winter Southwest Loop.

Headed southeast on U.S. 93 from Las Vegas after attending the DPS Muddy Peak and Muddy Mountains Highpoint climb, I stopped in Kingman, AZ, to explore the nearby Hualapai Mountain Park. This is a 14 mile drive, reached by taking Andy Devine Drive to the signed road on the south side of town.

Plenty of pines and firs grow up here, and a ranger station (elev. 6,3001) is open at 8 a.m., MST. They'll give you a free map, which indicates a dirt road going up to almost, but outside, the middle of the highest contour.

Starting at 9:21 a.m. MST, at a locked gate about the campground, I came to the official parking area in a few minutes. I took the trail from just before the second gate on the main dirt road. There was a bit of ice on the trail, in parts. Natural history signs, some unreadable, and occasional views are seen from this trail. This led back up to the dirt road, for me at 10:32 a.m. MST. This higher, central area looks like it was once a developed area for motorists, with water pumps, park benches, and picnic tables. There is even a storm shelter for hikers. One follows the unsigned dirt road down southward over a couple dips, then to a fallen sign, Fire escape route. The main dirt road heads up. I made it to the base of the summit rocks by 11:48 a.m. MST, stopping frequently to take notes and photos.

A plastic post, marked 314,2 is placed at the end of the dirt road. The map refers to this as the top. Symbols show a climber with a pack and a climber rappelling. I thought that would mean some class 3 or higher. The route straight up from the end of the road looked too steep. It had some steep rock climbing over boulders, so I headed down into the brush from the end of the road. Traversing around in a clockwise fashion, I had to drop down many feet to circle further to a slight saddle on the north. A poor use trail had led here. I tried going up an obvious gully to run into a wall of brush. A lone rock (duck?) to the right may have marked the route, but about 100 feet from the top, I turned around.
Mark Adrian advises the brush is bad, but there is a way. I just saw an overhanging summit rock, with exposure on the other side. The thick brush with thorns did it for me. I hiked back to try Aspen Peak. The situation is the same. A good trail leads to Dean's Peak Overlook, and a use trail continues up some 100 yards or so. The route appears to head into boulders and more brush, so I stopped here, too. Close by are two log constructions plus a Street sign, Peak Way, tacked into a tree.

Hayden Peak is festooned with towers and antennas. The service road and a trail leads to the top, but I think there was an unclimbable rock there, too.

Headed back on the dirt road, making a loop, there are some vistas of distant Kingman. My hike was finished at 4:11 p.m. MST.

The next day, after a motel stay in Williams, AZ, I continued east on I-40 to turn south (right) on I-17. I took the Sedona Exit, to intersect Highway 89A. I found that one must display a Red Rock Pass, some $5, for the North Wilson Trail. There is a ticket machine at the Encinoso campground where the North Wilson Trail starts. I had already fed my bill at another machine, and received my ticket or permit to be displayed on the dash. The trailhead signboard has a topo which I failed to read well enough. The highpoint lies to the north from the cairn junction at the top plateau, and to the east of the trail at its closest approach. No official trail goes to the top. I took the forested North Wilson Trail, starting at 9:46 a. m. MST, with red rock cliffs towering above, and the trail does climb steeply. An elderly group was also trudging up. I passed them, and got to the signed junction with the South Wilson Trail at 11 a.m. About a 100 feet south of here is a great view of the Sedona area. It was backlighted, but I shot many pictures anyway.

The trail climbs up to another flat area, then after searching a nearby bump for a register, I came back to a small cairn and junction at 11:56 a.m. My fast exploration of the faint use trail heading left (south) showed it seems to go nowhere but downhill through the pines.

I now headed north on the main trail. It goes through a pine forest on a flat, dry, plateau, and in less than 30 minutes, I came to a great view down into more of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. A big, green valley contrasted with the red rock outcrops on the far side of the canyon, and to the left, pinnacles and towers rose upward. This is like the scenery seen so often in Arizona Highways.

I stayed for 25 minutes, and headed back on my same route, down. One other hiker was going up. I was back at my car at 3:19 p.m. MST.
The maps and books say Hualapai Peak is some 3.4 miles one way, and the Wilson viewpoint is 9 miles round trip. My total gain for all was some 5,000 feet.

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