Brown’s Peak: Summiting the Phoenix Skyline

(c) ABR 2016

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.

(c) ABR 2016

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.

The nice part of the road (c) ABR 2016

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.

(c) ABR 2016

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.

Looking down at the saddle (c) ABR 2016

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.

Cliffs and flying rocks are par for the course on the way up to the summit. (c) ABR 2016

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.

View from the summit (c) ABR 2016

See HikeArizona’s description for further detail:


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  1. Wow! That’s a cool hike! I get nervous when I hike on shale or talus slides, even when I’m careful. I just did some hiking at Papago Park in Phoenix last week and loved it, so this more challenging trail will be on my list for next time.

    • waitingforrain28

      Yes, this trail is definitely one that people need to be super careful with. Papago is a great area though! I love it so much!

  2. Wow!! Need to be careful on that hike.. i would be scared to do that.. kudos to you

  3. Wow this is an awesome yet dangerous trek. I am not much of a trekking person, but this ignited my liking for the same. Hope to do so one day 🙂

    • waitingforrain28

      One of the best things about hiking is that there are trails to suite everyone’s tastes. Luckily they aren’t all this dangerous.

  4. Joanna

    I love hiking and i would probably go up this trail up to the rocky part. The view from the summit looks so pretty but my fear of heights would probably tell me not to go further than the rocks, haha.

    • waitingforrain28

      You would really enjoy the saddle. I think anyone would. Best to listen to your instincts and stay safe. There are still amazing views to be had!

  5. Awesome! I just moved to Tucson and I’ll be spending a week in Phoenix later this month – this looks like an interesting hike!

    • waitingforrain28

      I’m jealous! I love Tucson! And if you have a high clearance vehicle, this is a great place to check out.

  6. Looks like a fun trail! We’re planning to spend some time in this area next year, so we’ll have to consider this one.

    • waitingforrain28

      Definitely! If anything, the trail up to the saddle is well worth the journey.

  7. Definitely not a hike I’d be able to make these days! It looks as if you have to be part mountain goat to head up there 🙂

    • waitingforrain28

      Hahaha! I think that that is true! Luckily, the saddle is a great place to enjoy the views without the danger of the scramble to the summit.

  8. oooohhh I just wanna come back to the USA to hike the whole country! Looks so fantastic, you have incredible nature there :))) On number 3 photo I thought it was a glacier in the background and I was like “what???” 😀

    • waitingforrain28

      I agree! There is just too much to see and too many trails to hike! (A great problem to have. XD)

  9. How pretty! The peaks and skyline views are gorgeous. We actually live in Scottsdale near Phoenix and have done a few hikes nearby. But never this one! Glad to hear you liked it!

    • waitingforrain28

      This one is pretty hard to get to, so I can understand that. Luckily, Phoenix has so many wonderful hikes right in our backyard!

  10. The sound of rocks falling on top sounds really scary. Although, I still wanted to experience hiking in the future. Maybe somewhere less dangerous.

    • waitingforrain28

      Yeah, it was pretty scary. Luckily, there are much less dangerous and more relaxing trails to get you started on hiking.

  11. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the information!

  12. How gorgeous yet scary this is! I am not into hiking but would love to photograph this beautiful place.

    • waitingforrain28

      If you are a photographer you would really love this trip. Between the drive and the walk up to the saddle, there is no end to the beautiful things to take pictures of.

  13. Hiking is one of my passions If I were closer I would love to try this trail. What a great way to spend the day. Enjoyed your photos Thanks!

    • waitingforrain28

      No prob! Always happy to inspire other hikers. I love seeing trails that I want to go explore someday.

  14. Elizabeth O

    Whoa!! It looks like an exciting yet so dangerous trek. Need some extra care. Love the peaceful ambiance and the beautiful scenery of this skyline.

  15. That trail looks amazing! My friends and I are currently planning a hiking trip next summer but can’t decide on where we should go. The view here is STUNNING.

    • waitingforrain28

      Depending on what sort of experiences you want, Arizona could be a really great option for a hiking trip. There is tons of variety here!

  16. I dugg some of you post as I thought they were extremely helpful invaluable

  17. Your blog is a source of comfort and solace during challenging times.

    • waitingforrain28

      Writing it is a source of solace to me. So, I’m happy if it can help anyone else.

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