|Located in Gila County, the Sierra Ancha ("Wide Mountains") extend from the Mogollon Rim southward, ending where the Salt River cuts through the hills north of Globe. The range nomenclature is a little vague here, as the hills south of the Salt River sometimes get lumped into the Sierra Ancha. In any case, the Sierra Ancha feature a nice blend of mid-elevation peaks, forests, high deserts, grassy meadows and imposing cliffs and canyons. Aztec Peak is the highest point in the range, located east of the Workman Creek Falls. A forest road leads all the way to the summit, but the road is often gated near the Workman Creek Falls. Even so, the one-way hike is easy, about five miles round trip, and about 1,500 feet of gain. A large lookout tower sits atop the broad summit.|
The peak itself is an easy hike, so you should plan to take your time and visit the area and its other attractions. Workman Creek Falls are among the tallest in the state, and the official state record for most rainfall in 24 hours (about 11 inches) occurred here. There is a nice campground nearby. The other attraction is the road that cuts through the range, State Route AZ-288. This road starts north of Lake Roosevelt, and is unpaved for most of the distance as it heads north to the remote ranching community of Young, about 50 miles distant. The road is well-maintained so that passenger vehicles can drive it with no troubles. Past Young, the roads degenerate into narrower forest roads that cling to the mountainsides as it gains to meet the higher Mogollon Rim near Forest Lakes.
If you plan to drive the length of this road as well as visit Aztec Peak, a high clearance vehicle is advised, as the spur road to the Workman Creek Falls and the trailhead can be steep and a little rocky in segments.
|From the small town of Roosevelt on AZ 88, drive about 14 miles southeast on AZ 88, then turn left onto AZ 288. Drive north about 15 miles or so until you reach Forest Road 487 on the right. Those with high clearance vehicles can drive to Workman Creek Falls about 3 miles up the road. Park alongside the road near the gate, assuming it's closed. The area was burned severely around 2002-2003 and some of the upper road was damaged by erosion. The "Falls" campground is nearby.|
The AZ-288 turnoff is about 15 miles north of Globe as you head toward Lake Roosevelt. Stock up in Globe, as the town of Roosevelt is very small.
The town of Young also has a general store for emergency supplies. This town is isolated enough so that it still holds onto its rustic feel from a hundred years ago.
More info about Young (wikipedia)
Mountain ConditionsContact the Pleasant Valley Ranger District in Young at 928-462-4300 for the latest conditions.
Forest Service Map: Tonto National Forest. Topographical Map: Aztec Peak
CampingThe Falls campground is near the end of FR-487. It's close enough so that you can walk to the trailhead from here, adding negligible distance. There are a few other campgrounds in the Sierra Ancha. Open camping is also allowed. The lands are managed by the Tonto National Forest.
Sheep in Arizona? This was taken by my wife, Beth. It was published in the Arizona Republic newspaper!