Guthrie Peak tops out the Black Hills, the small northernmost extension of the lengthy Peloncillo Mountains in southeastern Arizona. A popular dirt road known as the Black Hills Backcountry Byway offers an enjoyable and scenic day outing and easy access to the trailhead (so to speak) for Guthrie Peak. The peak is located along US-191 east of Safford and south of Clifton, straddling the Graham and Greenlee county boundaries. This low range is lightly forested in sparse juniper and some fir, but is mostly open grasses and cactus. The summit is a jumble of radio towers. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable day hike with superb views down into the Gila Box Riparian Area, the White Mountains and the distant ranges in New Mexico. For list fans it is number 44 on the Arizona most prominent 50, and it is probably the most prominent peak within Greenlee County (for more on this fact, scroll down a bit).
The Black Hills from US-191
A single steak out on the trail, nibbling at the scenery...
From Safford, drive about 10 miles east on US-70/191 to where the highways split; take the left turn onto US-191. Drive about 8 miles to MP-139, and turn left onto the Backcountry Byway, which is signed. Follow this dirt road as it winds into the hills for about 9 miles to a large radio tower. A green sign mentioning "Guthrie Peak Rd" will be evident. Park at the large flat area near the tower.
The Byway is graded but a bit bumpy in places. Most vehicles should be okay in dry conditions. Large RVs might have trouble with some turns.
No permits needed. Just show up.
When To Climb
In winter the peak will probably get some snow but the trail is a road so even then you should be fine. In summer the route could be hot. Beware of storms and use common sense.
There are numerous pullouts along the Byway to park and camp. No fees.
What's All This About Prominence, Then?
Prominence measures the difference between the summit and the lowest saddle connecting to a higher peak. Guthrie's prominence is 2,391 feet. No other peak in Greenlee County has more prominence, although Maple Peak comes close. Most of Greenlee County is high mountains with peaks above 9,000 feet (the highpoint is 9,441 feet), but they all rise from common ridges or uplifted highlands, thus reducing those peaks' prominence. Guthrie sort of stands alone in this regard.
Looking down at the Gila Mountains and the 'Gila Box'.
We saw two tarantulas! Here's one: