This Route is accessed from Peppersauce Campground. There are different ways to get to the summit of Rice Peak. The trailhead we used is from the east through Peppersauce Campground
. To get to Peppersauce Campground from Tucson, drive north on Oracle Road (US 89). Continue for 27 miles to State Highway 77. Turn right (east) and drive 10 miles to the town of Oracle. Take the first Oracle exit and travel 4 miles through town to Forest Road 38. Follow FR 38 to Peppersauce Canyon. Due to the Bullock and Oracle Hill Fires of 2002, Peppersauce Campground is NOT accessible from the upper Control Road from Summerhaven.
The road turns to gravel not too far out of the town of Oracle. At Peppersauce Campground, set your odometer to zero and prepare for a rougher road. Go up the hill 2.5 miles where there is a little saddle. Turn right onto a rougher smaller road. Follow this road .9 mile to a wash out and park. As of November 2006 this road was pretty washed out and only Quad OHV and Motorbikes were going through. There are actually3 washouts in this area with the second one about 100 yards across. We parked here.
This Route is a combined road and cross country adventure. We went cross country climbing up the peak and opted for the road (even though it was about 2.2 miles longer and had about 900ft of elevation gain) on the return.
We parked at about 4,900 ft and followed the road for 2.0 miles to where the road started to descend. We saw a small saddle off to the left and left the road. At the saddle we could see Rice Peak in the distance to the southwest. We descended a little, crossed through one drainage, and then followed the next ridge up to point 6955. There were many cow trails through the brush and this helped going up the ridge. From point 6955 we descended about 200 ft to a saddle and then up the final ridge to Rice Peak.
The Pinal County Highpoint is down about 300 vertical feet below the summit of Rice Peak on the north side. There is a cairn and register to sign at the county highpoint.
We did not take the cross country route on our return. Instead we headed north along the ridge line until we found an old fire break and followed this north down to where it dumped us out on a road at an elevation of 6,570 ft. We turned right and followed this road first east and then north for quite a while. We finally intersected another road next to a large murky looking pond. We turned right and followed this road all the way back to our car.
Take the 10 essentials always. There are a couple of ponds for cattle along the road, but I wouldn’t drink the water.
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