Rice Cross CountryIn November 2006, SPer Dean and I headed out for Arizona to get a reprieve from the rains in Oregon and Washington and to tag some County Highpoints and Prominence Peaks . We met up in Arizona south of Phoenix at the Picacho Peak State Park . Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to climb Picacho Peak, but it was a nice place to spend the night of November 11th, Veterans Day.
The next morning we got up early and headed down the road towards Rice Peak and the Pinal County Highpoint. Our Trip Reports weren’t hard to follow and soon we were in Oracle and heading to Peppersauce Campground. At the campground we parked Dean’s vehicle and we car pooled towards the trailhead. Two miles up from the campground we found our turn off to the right and proceeded up this rougher road.
Soon, we found the road washed out and Dean got out and directed me through the first boulder field as I slowly crept over in Lo Range 4WD in my Tacoma. Once through this obstacle we continued only a few hundred yards when we encountered another washout. This one was at least 100 yards long and we could see where someone else had busted an oil line trying to get through. We backed up a little to a spot where we could get my truck off the road and we parked. We could hike from here.
Off we went up the road. In 2 miles we noticed the road started to lose elevation and turned away from Rice Peak. We decided we could just go cross country directly towards the peak. This may have been a mistake. It took us hours following cow trails and busting through brush to make any progress towards our objective. We persevered and pushed through to point 6955. Now we could see our objective clearly. Of course we had to descend a couple hundred feet and then climb up 500 feet to the Pinal County Highpoint.
I arrived at the highpoint before Dean. I dropped my pack and climbed up to the summit of Rice Peak carrying my camera and GPS. I didn’t want to get lost finding the Pinal County Highpoint again. Rice Peak has a road to the top that is used by OHV’s. After taking a few pic’s I headed back down to meet Dean at the county highpoint.
It had taken us about 4.5 hours to cover the 4.6 miles to the county highpoint. Neither one of us wanted to bushwhack back down the ridge. We could see the road below us on top of the ridge and we decided to follow the road back to the car. Conveniently, there was an old firebreak heading north from the county highpoint and we followed this down to a road that seemed to head in the direction we wanted to go.
The road went down and east, which was good. The road turned north and we followed it over a few little saddles. We passed a couple families who were camping and they asked us if we knew where the road went. They had gotten two vehicles back in here somehow, but they were unsure how to get back out. We were no help to each other because these roads weren’t on the topo’s. We continued down to a Y intersection at a large murky pond. Cows were playing around the pond it looked pretty gruesome.
We took the right fork because it was marked FR 4472. We left our car on FR4472 some miles away. All we had to do is follow this road. On the road we passed some hunters on Quads who were stalking white tail deer. There was one big uphill that gained about 600 ft on the road, but we kept going and finally 6.8 miles from the Pinal County Highpoint we arrived at the car. It took us over 8 hours and we gained about 3,650ft in elevation on this little hike. I’m sure there is a way to drive to the summit of Rice Peak. We just were not familiar with the area.