Four Peaks is a mountain that you can see from Phoenix, you might be able to glimpse it from the plane on the way into Sky Harbor, and if you keep your eyes out for local beers, you will also notice that there is an Arizona brewery named after these peaks. If you aren’t familiar, on a clear day, look out to the east of the city and just search for a mountain with… well, you guessed, four peaks.
As you might imagine, besides making for a characteristic skyline, Four Peaks also has its share of hiking trails, and one of the most popular is Brown’s Peak. If you have access to a four-wheel drive vehicle, and are an EXPERIENCED and CAREFUL hiker, this might be a great day adventure for you (remember, your safety traveling and in nature are your responsibility).
Why am I being so cautious about this hike? Let me tell you!
While the journey up Brown’s Peak is rife with lovely views, and a day’s worth of adventures, it is not easy to access and the end of the trail at the summit is dangerous.
About 45 min out of Phoenix on the 87 you will turn right onto 4 Peaks Rd, which is dirt. It is nice enough (most of the time) to get down it with just a vehicle that has high clearance, but it is definitely not a road I would chance my car on. It also takes a few hours to make it to the trailhead from the highway, and this is why summiting Brown’s Peak is a day-trip despite being so close to the city.
From the trailhead, you will follow a pretty tame trail through the Tonto Forest up to a saddle where you will be able to see Brown’s, as well as Roosevelt Lake and Phoenix on either side. If you are not an experienced scrambler or climber, this is where I would suggest that you turn around.
The trail takes a fairly straight path up from the saddle, and it doesn’t take long for the dirt path to turn into a steep crack in the stone of the mountain, which is layered with loose rock. So, in climbing up you will need to cling to the rock, while minding the stones under your feet and those that might be flying down the mountain at you, if there are hikers ahead. At the top, you will be rewarded with 360 degrees of amazing Sonoran desert beauty and a quiet, but likely windy spot on top of a fairly challenging peak.
Please exercise extreme caution climbing down (as you did up), and avoid disturbing the rocks as much as possible. Climbing Brown’s Peak is not advised in the winter, as snow and ice will make the steep trail even more dangerous than it already is.
See HikeArizona’s description for further detail: https://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=18