Ascent of Mount Graham on 2019-04-25

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, April 25, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Graham
    Elevation:10720 ft / 3267 m

Ascent Trip Report

The road up to Mount Graham had only opened a few days earlier, there were still some pretty deep snowbanks near the summit, and I didn't see or hear anyone on my weekday hike. This might be a good time to visit this peak if one has any concerns about it's off-limits status, but it seems that, in general, that there is not much enforcement.

The devastating Frye Fire in June, 2017 burned most of the top of Mount Graham and reduced the number of endangered Mount Graham Red Squirrels to about 35. They have since recovered to over 250, and recent studies have shown that their preferred habitat is just below the 10,000' level, while the protective "refugium" for the species is still above that level.

I parked where the pavement ends on the Mount Graham Road, just below the gated and unsigned summit dirt road, the usual route to the top. I cut off a few switchbacks on my upward hike but still mostly followed the road. On north-facing slopes some deep snowbanks were a bit annoying--I tended to posthole every few steps, randomly, and I didn't really want to leave any tracks, either.

Only a few fallen trees blocked the road, but it was obvious that no vehicles had been up there in years. The rolling terrain on top of the huge plateau was pleasant rambling, but the snow was more extensive so I left the road and hiked up a dry, burned-over slope where a reforestation effort had placed lots of blue plastic tubes around little saplings. Soon I was at the summit, an unremarkable flat spot in the open forest, with quite a few downed trees making navigation hard.

I rested for a bit and ate a snack, and I was thrilled to experience a wildlife-sighting first for me--a bobcat silently prowling along in the snow, about 100' in front of my seat. In all my years in the mountains I had never seen a wild feline.

I hiked down in the snow, post-holing occasionally, and then hiked the road to a point where I made a short jaunt to the top of Plain View Peak, which has slightly better views than the main summit. Back on the road, I followed it back down until a faint trail junction, where, for variety, I turned right to head downhill towards Big Creek.

I don't necessarily recommend this route. The old logging roads are very overgrown, the creek's ravine can be steep with loose dirt, and fire-damaged trees were down everywhere. Still, it was a minor adventure, and using my GPS I managed to come out at Hospital Flat campground, and then it was a boring road walk on the main dirt Mount Graham road back to the pavement and my car.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1720 ft / 523 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1720 ft / 524 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.7 mi / 14.1 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1560 ft / 475 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Start Trailhead:Shannon Park  9160 ft / 2791 m
    Time:1 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1720 ft / 524 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1560 ft / 476 m; Extra: 160 ft / 48m
    Gain on way out:160 ft / 48 m
    Distance:4.6 mi / 7.5 km
    Route:Big Ck
    End Trailhead:Shannon Park  9160 ft / 2791 m
    Time:2 Hours 0 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: 2019 - Graham

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Graham2019-04-25 a1720 ft / 524 m
2Plain View Peak2019-04-25 b70 ft / 21 m
Total Trip Gain: 1790 ft / 545 m    Total Trip Loss: 1790 ft / 545 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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