O'Leary is an easy mountain. The route up is a blocked off forest service rd. Before you could drive up to the pass between O’Leary and Darton dome, but the entrance has been pushed back. Now there is about another mile you have to hike to even reach the base of the peak. During this part of the hike you hike along Sunset Craters lava flow, which is very impressive. It's worth getting off the trail and checking out. There are a total of 6 switchbacks to the tower. The tower is not on the Peak. The peak is O'Leary's western summit. To hike it get off the road between the two summits and hike up until you reached the top. This is the most difficult part of the hike. The tower sits at 8,916. The view is excellent. You can see into the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Mountains, into the crater of Sunset Crater and all to the north is the Painted Desert.
O’Leary has one of the best views of any of the mountains around Northern Arizona. This mountain is also rarely hiked, so you can find some solitude on its peak. From what I understand it is hiked about 2-3 times per week in the summer. The person working in the tower usually likes to see visitors since they can go a few days without seeing anybody.
From Flagstaff take US 89 north. Turn right on the road that takes you to Sunset Crater National Park. Right before you enter the park take a left on Forest service rd 545A. You drive this road back about 1/4 of a mile, which is paved. Park here and hike the rest of the way to the top.
The ranger that works in the lookout tower is the only one that can drive to the top.
When To Climb
This mountain is best climbed in summer. In the winter if there is snow on the ground you can park on the edge of the Sunset Crater road and hike to the mountain. The most difficult part of the hike is just treading through the snow.
You can camp in Sunset Crater National parks campground, but you would be camping on cinders. It costs a fee to get into the park, not sure if there is a fee to camp also. You can also camp on the peak next to the lookout tower. If you wake up at 4:00 am you can see the sun coming up over the Painted Desert.
none. If it is a sunny day your good to hike.
Sunset Crater was the last volcano in Arizona to erupt. It started erupting about 1065 and eruptions continued in the area for decades later. The eruption at Sunset Crater covered an area of 800 square miles of ciders. Its elevation is 8,026 feet, rising 1,000 feet from its surrounding area. It changed the face of O’Leary by spraying its cinders on the mountain. O’Leary was once a brownish colored mountain, similar in color to Mt. Elden. It is now black from the cinders. Sunset Crater also has a large lava flow heading north to O’Leary. To get into the park follow the instructions to get to O’Leary, just stay on the main road. There is a fee to get into the park. To know more about Sunset Crater and to see some pics Click here
Hiking to the top of the crater is off limits. You can see a trail heading to the top from when it was legal to hike it many years ago.
For more information on the park click here
Arizona's 20-20 Challenge
Yes Arizona has it's own little challenge just like other states do like the Colorado/California 14ers, Idaho 12ers, or even doing all the State High points.
Arizona's Challenge is the 20 highest and the 20 deepest. What this means is the 20 highest mountains that are not on protected areas and has a trail to the summit and the 20 deepest canyons with the same criteria.
The mountains all have an elevation gain of at least 1,000 feet. The listing of the Peaks and Canyons are yet to come.
For more information go to Arizona's 20-20 Challenge