Four Peaks Trail
On this trail, take a fun trip over mostly easy trail through some of the most scenic areas in the state. The trail begins in the high desert where saguaros are abound and ends in the high forest terrain less than two miles from Brown’s Peak, the highest point in Maricopa County that stands a staggering 7,657 feet above the desert floor.
Where to go:
From central Phoenix, take Loop 202 east from I-10. Take exit 13 (Country Club Dr.) and turn left. Follow AZ-87 north for 26 miles until you reach Four Peaks Road. Turn right onto Four Peaks Road and follow it for 0.8 miles. There is a large staging area off to the right. If this spot is full, there are numerous places along the first few miles of the trail.
From the first staging area, head east on the wide graded road. Stay left at 2.0 miles where Forest Road 143 goes right. There is more staging at this point and others between here and Highway 87. Stay right at 3.3 miles as the trail passes numerous camping and shooting spots. The trail winds through the saguaros and passes a nice overlook at 5.2 miles which offers views of the entire east valley. The trail continues to climb and wind, occasionally crossing dry creeks, meanwhile the views get better. After passing some large boulders, the trail enters a new type of terrain – high desert shrubs.
At 9.6 miles the trail begins following a small creek where some water may be present after a recent rain. Take a sharp right at 10.8 miles where the road switchbacks, and use caution for the next few miles as a series of blind/tight turns lies ahead. After crossing over a ridge at 11.6 miles, you have a great view of Four Peaks and the road you’ll be taking to get near the top. Continue down the hill as the road roughens and narrows slightly. The trail crosses a series of seasonal creeks, the first coming at 13.4 miles and another at 14.2. If there is water flowing here, use caution and good judgement before continuing on. After passing the Mud Springs Trailhead at 15.0 miles, the trail continues its rapid ascent. After a series of tight turns, you final level off at a junction of trails. Turn sharp right at 17.8 miles just after crossing through a gate and cattle guard. Continue south on the trail towards Four Peaks Trailhead. A lesser trail off to the right at 18.9 miles provides an incredible overlook of the surrounding area including Brown’s Peak, Roosevelt Lake, and the trail you just completed. At 19.0 miles, you’ll arrive in the main parking area for the Four Peaks Trailhead.
Side trips: This trip certainly isn’t limited to just the road to the Four Peaks trailhead. In fact, you can easily spend an entire weekend exploring the numerous dirt roads in the area. Where you turned right to access Four Peaks trailhead, go straight to continue along El Oso Road. It continues west and north for many miles into some extremely remote portions of forest. There are some great campsites to be had back there. Just after 1 mile along Pigeon Springs Road from Four Peaks trailhead, turn right to continue east along El Oso Road. This 9 mile trail drops almost 4,000 feet to its end in the Tonto Basin near Roosevelt Lake.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
Overall, this trail is easy. It is just under 40 miles round trip to Four Peaks trailhead and back. Allow for 3-4 hours to do the trail, more time if you stop. The trail is rated a ‘2’ because of the creek crossings and minor trail erosion. Most passenger cars can make it to the top but high-clearance will make things more comfortable. This trail does have a lot of blind turns and does get very busy so use caution and slow down. Four Peaks trail is a great basis for an entire weekend of riding, hiking, and camping. There are so many recreational activities available on and around this fun trail.