So many trails surround Wickenburg–which one to choose? For this trekking adventure we blindly opened Dana Burden’s book (1) and ended up with “Red Top”. My trekking partner, Dennis Orr, who I believe has memorized the book, agreed that would be a good one. So Red Top it was and off we went.
Red Top (3664 ft) is the middle of three peaks laying four miles North-Northeast of Wickenburg. The West peak is Creighton Hill (3064 ft) and the one on the East is Precious Peak (3190 ft). You will have to read Dana’s book to learn how Precious Peak got named plus a whole lot of other stories.
Red Top from the Trail Head
Features are a dangerous mine shaft, typical desert scenery and, from the peak, a fantastic 360 degree view of the surrounding area.
A fenced off 4-wheel road leads from Blue Tank Road to just past the mine. The trail leads off on the left side near the end of the road and is part of a horse trail complex throughout the whole area. Follow the trail to the pass between Creighton Hill and Red Top Peak where you will come to a junction. You have a choice of continuing ahead or taking the trail to the right which leads to Red Top summit. Time permitting, the trail to the peak presents a marvelous view, well worth the effort. While there is some “scrambling” involved, the climb is not all that difficult and there is no serious exposure to falling. Make sure you sign the log located in the ammo box while there. From the lack of entries, it appears that not many folks make this part of the journey. By the way, save your picnic lunch for this part of the trip, a good place to enjoy your food while taking in the view.
When returning to the trail at the pass check out the small balanced boulder that is somewhat of a surprise for not having tumbled down–there is not much holding it in place.
The trail continues to circle around to the North side of Red Top where there are additional trail crossings. Look for the “fornicating bears” on the North slope. Continue on around the East side where you come to Precious Pass, the pass between Red Top and Precious Peak. Down the trail you’ll come to yet another trail crossing, Trail JCT7. Continue to the right to Trail JCT8 where you can either continue straight ahead to Trail JCT, the start of the trail, or turn left down hill and follow a 4-track road back to the mine then back on the 4-wheel road to the trail head.
Distance: The trail head is reached by taking Rincon Road Northeast off highway 93–1.8 miles from the stop light at the highway 93/60 junction in downtown Wickenburg. Follow Rincon Road for 1.7 miles then turn right and follow Blue Tank Road for 2.2 miles. Parking is very limited along the road. If you have a 4 wheel drive, park in the wash just East of the trail head.
Difficulty: Some “scrambling” is necessary on trail to the peak. Otherwise a pleasant hike on a well used and marked trail.
Time: The trail is about 4 miles long which includes the segment to the peak. Allow around 3 hours or 4 hours if the peak is included in this journey.
Features: A dangerous mine shaft, desert scenery and a fantastic view from the peak.
Equipment: Water, camera, lunch and a pair of gloves for climbing to the peak.
Data: A PDF map file and GPX file of waypoints and tracking data is available. A utility program, GPSbable, can be downloaded from WWW.GPSBABLE.COM which converts waypoints, tracks and routes from one format to another, whether that format is a common mapping format like Delorme, Streets and Trips or even a serial or USB upload or download to a GPS receiver such as those from Garmin and Magellan.
1 Desert Hiking, Out Wickenburg Way by Dana W. Burden, Library of Congress Control Number 2004095910, is available in a number of shops in Downtown Wickenburg, including the Old Livery Mercantile, which also sells the book online.