On this ride, take a fun trip on a mostly easy trail over some of the most scenic areas in the state. The trail begins in the high desert where saguaros are abound and it ends in the high forest-type terrain less than a mile from Brown’s Peak, the highest point in Maricopa County that stands a staggering 7,657 feet above the desert floor.
To get there: From Central Phoenix, follow I-10 E merging onto the AZ-202 to Mesa. Take exit 13, Country Club Dr., and turn left to stay on Highway 87. Follow this north for 26 miles until you reach Cline Cabin Rd. (Four Peaks Rd.). Turn right off of Highway 87 and follow Four Peaks Rd. for 0.8 miles until you reach the large staging area off to the right.
The trail: Once you’re ready to go, begin heading east on the wide, graded road. Stay left at 1.3 miles where F.S. Road 143 goes right. This area can be used as an alternative staging area in the event the main staging area is full. Stay right at 2.6 miles to stay on the trail. The trail continues to wind and climb, beginning to head in a northerly direction at 3.25 miles. A great overlook at 4.5 miles gives the rider great views of the entire east valley as well as the trail as it climbs through the high desert. The trail continues to climb and wind, crossing occasionally dry creeks, meanwhile the views just keep getting better. Take a sharp right at 10.1 miles, and use caution from here on out, a series of blind/tight turns lies ahead. Another great viewpoint comes at 10.8 miles, as the road begins to descend. Four Peaks and Four Peaks Trail looms ahead, off in the distance. At this point, the road is known on many maps as “Soldier Camp Trail”, named likely for the soldiers from Camp Reno (NE of here near: 33° 52' 43.23" N 111° 21' 11.96" W ) that were known to have been in the area in the mid-1800s. Continue down the hill as the road roughens and narrows slightly. The trail crosses a series of seasonal creeks, the first coming at 12.7 miles and another at 13.4. After passing the Lone Pine Trailhead, the trail continues its rapid ascent towards the ever closer Four Peaks. After a series of tight turns, you final level off at a junction of trails. Turn sharp right at 17.1 miles just after crossing through a gate and cattle guard. Continue south on the trail towards Four Peaks Trailhead. A lesser trail going right at 18.3 miles provides an incredible overlook of the surrounding area including Brown’s Peak, Roosevelt Lake, and the trail you just completed. At 18.4 miles, you’ll arrive in the main parking area for the Four Peaks Trailhead.
This trail provides a great link for further exploration of the area. Numerous side trails on the main trail described here provide hours of additional exploration time. Numerous hiking trails in the area provide another great activity to do. Along the trail and further along on the trail, are great places to camp. Going back to the “junction” and heading north can provide even more great off-road trails. El Oso Road, which continues north and then juts east, provides access to Roosevelt Lake as well as Camp Reno as the Tonto Basin and the town of Punkin Center. Following El Oso Road due north and then northwest can provide even more trails. Extra recreational activities are abound in this area and can easily fill up a weekend trip.
This trail is mostly easy and gets its rating due to the occasional blind curves, steep grades, and occasional rough surface. Round trip, this trail is just under 40 miles and will take about 3-4 hours. Allow more time to explore further the abundant off-road trails in the area. Snow fall towards the end of the trail is not uncommon and in fact, during heavy snow periods, portions of the trail may be closed (we saw several Forest Service gates near the top of the mountain). This trail can be completed in almost any vehicle (we saw all types at the Four Peaks Trailhead) but high clearance is definitely recommended. This trail was a blast and we definitely look forward to doing this trail again!