Mount Ord is the second highest mountain in the Mazatzal Range of central Arizona. It is an interesting summit in that you can start in an upper sonoran landscape of creosote, saguaro, and paloverde, ascend through grasslands of manzanita, and end in a decidious forest of oak trees. If you're looking for wildlife or vistas, this is the place. The area has one of the densenst concentrations of deer, black bear, and mountain lion in all of Arizona plus a variety of birds. From the top, Roosevelt Lake, the Four Peaks, and the Mogollon Rim can all be clearly seen.
A service road leads from the base of the mountain to the summit. Most people drive a 4WD vehicle up to .5 miles before the summit and then hike to the top. Few hike the 14 miles round trip and 4,720 ft. from the base to the summit. However, it's a gradual hike up a relatively wide jeep road to the top and is fairly easy. A few miles from the base, you will come to an obvious branch in the road. Continue hiking straight on the jeep road and do not take the right branch. This trail peters out after a couple of miles - leaving you to either backtrack or bushwack your way up the face of the mountain.
From Phoenix, it is approximately 50 miles (80 km) northeast to Mt. Ord. Take 87 North (Beeline) past Fountain Hills into the Tonto National Forest and through Sunflower. Roughly 5 miles after Sunflower, make a right onto Mt. Ord. This is the pull off area.
You are not allowed to climb the lookout tower on the summit because it is still operational.
When To Climb
Mt. Ord can be climbed any time of the year. It is best in the spring, summer, and fall because of its cool temperatures in relation to Phoenix. October and November are good times to see the fall foliage change color. In the winter, it gets cold enough to snow. However, even with snow, the service road can still be hiked with appropriate dress.
There are many free camp sites along the jeep road. Excellent campsites can also be found if you venture off the service road onto the right branching trail.
On the summit is the 102 ft. Mt. Ord Lookout. It is on the National Historic Lookout Register and is still in use. If you are interested in mountain lookouts, go to http://firelookout.net/Individ_Lookout/us443_mt.ord.htm and http://www.firetower.org/listings/us443.html.
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