Browns Peak is the only officially named peak in the Four Peaks. The aliases for the other 3 I found at Hikearizona.com. Browns Peak is the northern most (the one on the left) and Amethyst Peak is the Southernmost (the one on the Right).
|Browns Peak||7,657 Feet |
|"Brother Peak"||7,642 Feet |
|"Sister Peak"||7,572 Feet |
|"Amethyst Peak"||7,524 Feet |
Browns Peak and the "Scree Chute"
Browns Peak is the highest of the Four Peaks and Maricopa County. They reside about 60 miles northeast of Phoenix. The Four Peaks rise dramatically out of the desert ascending about 5,000 feet from the desert floor. On a clear day they can be seen from downtown Phoenix. From the east they look unclimbable without rope. Even though they are a 10-18 mile drive on rough dirt roads they are visited quite frequently. This is the premier climb in the Phoenix area. It consists of both easy trail and class 3 scrambling up a scree filled collier.
The other 3 peaks seen from Browns Peak
Some people have even done the four peaks traverse, which is a class 4 climb over all four peaks and is over 10 miles. The other 3 peaks are far more treacherous then Browns Peak. They require a lot of route finding and rock climbing/scrambling. There are a few more technical moves that would be easy class 5. If the wrong route is taken there are quite a few areas that are class 5 that are unavoidable. In a few areas it is quite a bushwhack up steep loose fertile soil. Dislodging rocks is a big hazard on these mountains. Then there are the cactus and agave plants. This adds to the difficulty of the climb. Small cactus hiding in the rocks in really good hand holds just waiting to prick somebody. These are some of the most difficult mountains to climb around Phoenix that don't require ropes. If you’re not experienced in rock climbing this can be a very scary traverse. The exposure is extreme much of the way.
From the top the view is truly amazing. One can see about 1/4th of the state of Arizona from the top. On a clear day Humphreys Peak
can be seen.
In the Four Peaks Wilderness there is all sorts of wildlife. It has the densest black bear population in the state. It also has ring-tailed cats, skunks, coyotes, deer, javelinas, and mountain lions.
The Four Peaks are the only place in Maricopa County that can get considerable amount of snow. It’s also the only place that offers a snow climb to the top of a mountain even though its not recommended.
To know more about this hike click here
If you’re coming from North Phoenix take loop 101 east to Shea Blvd. Turn east on Shea and take it all the way till it ends at SR 87 (Beeline Hwy.). Turn northeast and keep going till you see the well-marked Four Peaks turnoff. Take FR143 18 miles to Browns Peak trail. There is one unmarked fork in the road on the way, stay to the left. The second fork is once you get to the ridge. Take a right and the road follows the ridge line to the trail head. Expect to take over an hour to reach the trail head on FR143. If the road is really rutted out it can take two hours. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. It can be 18 miles of pure hell in a car.
If your coming from South Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa or near Chandler, to get to FR143 take Loop 202 East to Country Club. Head North East on the Beeline (SR 87).
If you’re hiking to the top of Browns Peak there is no Red tape. There is an area on the Four Peaks that is on private property and are off limits. If you keep hiking along the Amethyst trail you'll end up at a locked gate, which is the boundary to the Amethyst Mine. From what I understand, it is easy to bypass, but it is private property. The Amethyst Mine has some of the best Manganese tinted quartz in the world.
When To Climb
Browns peak can be hiked any time of the year. If there is snow in the Scree Chute then it is not recommended. It can be done if there is not much snow in it.
The summer months might be too hot to consider. There is very little shade on this hike. The monsoon seasons can be bad if it rains. There is no protection from lightning from Browns Saddle to the top.
There are no web sights that tell what the whether conditions are like. It’s all guesswork.
Camping is allowed anywhere along FR143. Depending when you camp depends if there is water in the washes. Never count on there being water, so bring your own. There are no fees to camp
There is no information on the web on hiking Browns peak. There are also no phone numbers.
The four Peaks rise 6,000 feet from the desert and the weather on top is drastically different than any towns on the bottom. It can be hot on the bottom on very cold on top.
Views From the Top