Maverick Butte is one of several prominent summits that lie atop a long ridge separating the Verde River Valley to the east from the highlands lying north of Carefree and Cave Creek; accessed from Seven Springs Road. The most notable peak in this small unnamed range is Humboldt Mountain 5,204’, which has an FAA radome atop its summit. Maverick Butte lies about 2 ½ miles south of Humboldt Mountain.
A jeep road gets within less than a mile of the summit. To gain the summit requires off-trail hiking up and over a couple of lower summits. Overall, the off-trail hiking isn’t too bad. There’s some brush, which gets thicker the further up you go, and some minor rock hopping towards the end. However, it is easily surmountable for hikers with any experience with off-trail hiking or bushwhacking.
Maverick Butte can easily be combined with a trip to the top of Humboldt Mountain, which would generally be done by driving up a paved access road, at least part way, for a leisurely stroll to the summit. Humboldt Mountain has measurably superior views to Maverick Butte. However, Maverick Butte has very nice views, and is a surprisingly pleasant hike; and not too difficult.
Maverick Butte is best hiked between November and March. Avoid hiking in the off-trail section above 70 degrees which is snake weather. Since the area is outside of the urban heat center and is quite a bit higher altitude than Phoenix, temperatures here are generally about 10 degrees cooler than in the Phoenix valley. In late February 2019, the area got about a foot of snow. This is quite rare. Try not to hike here after a rain storm, since the terrain can get muddy.
The primary route from the Phoenix metro area is to go north from the 51 to the 101 and then north towards Cave Creek. From the 101, take the Pima exit in North Scottsdale and head north for just under 12 miles. Take a right on Cave Creek Road and continue for nine miles where the road heads into the mountains and becomes Seven Springs Road (aka FR 24). After a couple miles, the road turns into dirt, then back to pavement, and then back to dirt. It is four and a half miles from when it first turns to dirt to the 1099 Forest Road. The road is easy to miss. But, here’s a way to find it. Once you pass the Bronco Trailhead on your left, set the odometer to 0, and go about 1.5 miles. It is an obvious road on your right with a sign for 1099. 2WD vehicles can make it here, but it is nicer to have a Subaru or 4WD
You can park at a small parking area right at the turnoff from Seven Springs Road. Take the main road which, at first gradually, and then a little more steeply, climbs up the hillside. After almost two miles, there is a small pond on the right. Pass it, and continue on the road as it curves to the right and starts a brief descent. You will see the Maverick Butte massif on the way.
There are two lower summits to hike before reaching Maverick Butte. Go up and over the first summit, which is Pt. 4566 on topographic maps. The terrain here isn’t too difficult to cross. Descend about 120’ and then ascend back to the 2nd summit, which is a bit more brushy, but still manageable. Once on the 2nd summit, it is another quarter mile to Maverick Butte. Descend about 100’, and then ascend about 200’ to the summit. There are some rocks near the summit and a small path between the rocks that is the best option.
On the descent, go back up and over the 2nd summit. On the descent from the 2nd summit, you may see another pond and assume that is the same one you passed on the way up. Avoid the temptation to go down there. It is a different pond. Although you can get down that way, it requires more off-trail hiking to get back down to the 1099 road, and it is brushy. Just go back the way you came.
The elevation gain to Maverick Butte is approximately 1,550’ on the way up, and nearly 1,900’ total. It is 3.3 miles each way.
There is no red tape in particular. Follow rules from the Forest Service.