Giers Mountain P500
Peak 1,908ft P500
Peak 1,694ft P300
Red Mountain
Peak 1,620ft
Billy Mack Mountain P300
Lion Hill
Peak 1,113ft P300

Fri, Feb 26, 2021
Red Mountain
Lion Hill
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


Eric had gone home in the morning, leaving me with a few days to finish up a 10-day desert roadtrip. My plan was to tackle Giers Mtn and Peak 1,908ft, two summits with 500ft+ of prominence in the Buckskin Mtns of Arizona near Parker. I ended doing those and adding another in a 9mi loop, then a Jeeping tour through the western part of the range. It was a sunup to sundown adventure with plenty of driving to give my feet a break. I would end the day with eight Arizona summits before heading back to California.

Giers Mtn - Peak 1,908ft - Peak 1,694ft

Adam Walker had posted a track to PB for Giers and Peak 1,908ft in 2019, what looked like a nice out and back from SR95 to the north along the Colorado River. I used his same parking spot along the highway and headed out just before 6:15a. I started up a wash system that I quickly found was part of a trail system (the Lamb Springs Trail in Buckskin Mtn State Park, which I only found out later, of course). I followed it for about half a mile until it climbed out of the wash to head west. I turned left to continue following the wash southeast and south, no sign of a trail anymore. It was a pleasant hike in the cool shade of the early morning, occupying much of the first hour. As I neared the end of the wash, Giers was basked in sunshine on my right and I ascended the headwall of the wash system to climb the East Face directly to the summit. The easier route goes around the south side to ascend the SW Ridge, but I found the East Face a challenging class 3 bit of fun that I enjoyed very much. The rock quality improved the higher I went, fairly solid where it gets steepest and is most appreciated. I reached the summit by 7:30a, with a fine, clear view of the Colorado River to the north. To the east rose the slightly higher Peak 1,908ft about a mile away. The route to get to it looked tame by comparison and looked to make for a nice ramble. The register consisted of a collection of loose sheets, the oldest dating to 2004. Adam and pal had been the last ones to sign the register.

For the descent, I chose to drop off the SE side, a similarly challenging class 3 scramble, though the rock a bit less solid. This allowed me to connect with the ridgeline to Peak 1,908ft directly. The traverse between the two would occupy me for a second hour, a pleasant walk taking advantage of animal trails that passed along the ridgeline, past saguaro and cholla. Peak 1,908ft's summit was covered in the latter, and I took some time to avoid getting any wayward needles in my boots. I stayed below the West Ridge on its south side to make travel easier, scrambling onto the ridge shortly before the summit. I reached the top not long after 8:30a, finding a simple register left by Adam in 2019. While sitting here, I noticed another summit, Peak 1,694ft about a mile to the south. I hadn't planned on this one ahead of time, but I was having such a good time on the outing that it gave me a chance to extend it and make a large loop. It would take most of a third hour to follow the class 2 ridgeline between the summits. A few very green ocotillo brightened the scene, with some barrel cacti adding shades of red.

Once at the summit, I looked around for a way back, choosing a broad wash system to the east that flows north to Giers Wash and the Colorado River. In descending Peak 1,694ft I dropped southwest off the summit, a class 3-4 scramble for about 30ft or so, then down easier slopes to the southeast and east. I passed over a low saddle into the head of the wash system I would follow back to the highway. This was a pleasant stroll with open, gravel washes, some narrow sections for interest, a dry waterfall or two for diversion. Once in Giers Wash, I noted graffiti carved in places on the sandstone walls - certainly I was getting close to civilization. Another 10min found me in the vicinity of the Verde West RV park. I had been to this same neighborhood back in 2019 when I had climbed the nearby Castle Rock, a class 3 summit I had stumbled upon while driving through the area. I finished the last half mile of the outing walking the side of SR95, the least enjoyable part, but only taking 10min. By 11:40a I was back to the Jeep.

Red Mtn

The rest of the day was spent Jeeping the Back Way to the Desert Bar Trail, starting only a few minutes from where I'd parked. The Desert Bar, aka the Nellie E Saloon, lies near the apex of this scenic and challenging desert Jeep trail. The northeastern half of the trail is pretty exciting in places, suitable only for 4WD and high-clearance. The southwestern half is well-graded dirt, suitable for most vehicles. The Desert Bar is open only on weekends, cash only, and hugely popular. It lies at the site of the old Carnation Mine and has grown to accomodate rather large crowds. As it was Friday, I wouldn't have the opportunity to visit the bar, but then I would have much of the trail to myself - I saw only a few other vehicles for the more than five hours I was out there. Less than two hours were spent in actually driving, the rest sprinkled about the five summits I stopped for along the way. The trail starts next to the River Island Market along SR95. A large dirt lot adjacent to the market is used by the many weekend visitors to unload ATVs from their trailers. It was empty today, but you can get an idea of what it looks like on the weekend from the Google satellite view (I counted over 100 vehicles at the Desert Bar in the satellite view). I drove about 1.5mi from the highway to reach a saddle for Red Mtn on its southeast side. I left the Jeep at a small turnout and hiked the SE Ridge to the summit in about 25min. The peak is aptly named for the unusually bright (for this area) red/orange/brown rock that dominates the volcanic feature. Some easy class 3 scrambling can be had with nice views of the river and the surrounding mountains. My biggest surprise was seeing how close Giers Mtn was, perhaps a mile to the southeast. From the road, it was only about 3/4mi to Giers, clearly the shortest route to the summit, if your vehicle can manage the road.

Peak 1,620ft

After returning to the Jeep, I drove another mile south to the highpoint of the road at an overlook near the Gray Eagle Mine, putting me about 1/2mi north of Peak 1,620ft. There is a much closer approach from the west via a Jeep road leading to the Eagles Nest Mine, but I didn't know about this at the time. At the overlook I parked at, there are several memorial plaques for some enthusiasts active in the local OHV club. From here, I scrambled steep, loose slopes to the top of an intermediate point that had numerous prospects scattered over its slopes, the blue/green minerals in the volcanic rock their obvious target - lots of digging, but not a lot of rock removed. From this intermediate point, the going gets easier across a saddle, then more rocky scrambling to the summit. There are two points vying for highpoint, the southwestern one appears to be about 5ft higher. One can look down on the Desert Bar, about half a mile to the southwest - it looked about as dead as expected. After a short break, I returned via the same route.

Billy Mack Peak

I drove the remaining distance to the Desert Bar, finding myself at the north entrance which was closed. What? How do I get through? I had to consult by GPSr to find the junction I'd missed a short distance back. Once on Cienega Springs Rd, the road is much improved and heads west and southwest. After a mile and a half, I paused on the northeast side of Billy Mack Mtn, found just northwest of the road. I hiked up to the NE Ridge and followed it to the highpoint in the middle of the ridge. A register found in a cairn at the summit was left by Gordon & Barbara in 2003, with a handful of other entries since. For the return I dropped directly off the summit on the southeast side, then walked the road the short distance back to the Jeep.

Lion Hill

This minor summit is located about half a mile south of Billy Mack. A spur road off Cienga Springs got me to a saddle on the west side, and from there it was a 10min hike to the top. Not much of a summit, this one.

Peak 1,113ft

This last peak is located about a mile southwest of Lion Hill. A rough, sandy BLM road gets one within a quarter mile on the northeast side of the summit. It's a short but steep scramble over loose rock, a small cliff band found at the very top. The rock here was pretty crappy, so it took some slow manuevering to get up the 20-foot section without pulling rocks out and cratering. It was 4:45p by the time I reached the summit, the sun now getting low in the sky and leaving a soft lighting over the landscape. I left the only register of the day on the summit before heading back down the same way. I ended up showering where I'd parked the car before driving into Parker for dinner, then back to California to start my drive home. I still had a few days before I needed to be home, so I drove into the southern part of the Turtle Mtns to spend the night...


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