There is a forest service tower here as well, and, if you’re lucky, the ranger will invite you up. We were lucky enough to climb the tower and talk with a volunteer who told us more about the area and his duties as a lookout. When you’re done at the top, hike back to your vehicle and continue back to Highway 87 via the way you came or via the more difficult side trip.
Side trip: Forest Road 27 leaves Mount Ord Trail (Forest Road 626) at roughly the 4 mile mark from the west staging spot. It heads north and quickly drops 5 miles to connect to Highway 87. The trail is a constant downhill rollercoaster that twists and turns. It does have a few washouts which require careful tire placement but most high-clearance vehicles will make it. Towards the bottom, you’ll find some sort of foundations which can be found just off the trail. At the 5.0 mile mark, the trail crosses a small wash before ending at Highway 87 northbound.
Summary/Trail Ratings: Overall, the 6 mile trail to near the top of Mount Ord is easy. It is rated a ‘1.5’ strictly for some of the tight turns. Most passenger cars can make it to the top. For the side trip, a high-clearance vehicle is required and 4WD recommended if you plan on going the 5 miles down and then the 5 miles back up. This is a great trail for all types of OHV’s (off-highway vehicles. Allow for about 1-2 hours to do the 12 miles to the top and back, more for exploring and the side trip.
On this short and easy trail, take the scenic ride Mount Ord. Although inaccessible by vehicle, you can hike to the peak where you are offered tremendous views of the surrounding area. The top has several communications towers and a forest service tower which may or may not be staffed at the time. On the way back down, explore trails in the area that lead to mining foundations or pull off at a nice campsite.
Page last updated: 7/11/2018
This trail is sponsored by:
Last Known Status: Open
Trail Type: Out & back
Length: 12 miles roundtrip
Approx. time: 1-2 hours
Current Info: Tonto N.F./Mesa Ranger District (480) 610-3300
Elevation: 4526' - 6755'
Nearest City: Payson
How to get there: From central Phoenix, take Loop 202 east from I-10. Take exit 13 (Country Club Dr.) and turn left. Follow AZ-87 north for 45 miles. Turn right onto F.S. 626 marked as ‘Sycamore Creek/Mount Ord’. Follow this road 1 mile to a pull off for staging.
The trail: From the staging spot at 1.0 miles, head east. The trail immediately begins to climb and crosses a cattle guard at 1.6 miles. The road begins to enter thicker forests and twists and turns for the next several miles after another cattle guard at 2.75 miles. Stay right at 4.1 miles where F.S. 27 goes left. Consider taking this on the way back down. It is more aggressive (rated about 4-5) and leads to the Ord Mine and then Highway 87 5 after 5 miles (more info below). The trail turns south as it gets closer to the summit. At 6.1 miles, you’ll come to a clearing and a locked gate. There is no vehicular access to the summit, but you can take the easy 0.6 mile hike along the trail to get there. Once at the summit, you’ll be treated to great views of Roosevelt Lake and the Tonto Basin.
Best Time: Year 'Round