Picketpost Mountain near Superior Arizona in Tonto National Forest

Picketpost Mountain


Mileage: 3.9
Elevation gain: 2129 feet
Time to complete: 4-6 hours
Stars: ★★★★
Difficulty: 3/5 (Ratings explained)
Strenuous, route-finding

There’s a certain grandeur about Picketpost Mountain, one of the most beautiful mountains in Arizona. Sitting just outside the city of Superior, Picketpost delivers a fun workout and scenic beauty. If you’re lucky, a mailbox will be at the top filled with notes. Many people have trouble staying on the trail and finding the summit, but if you stick to the general route and keep going straight back on top, you’ll find it!

Trail Description

If you’ve ever driven to Superior from Phoenix, you”ve no doubt been captivated by the stunning beauty of Picketpost Mountain, also sometimes written as Picket Post Mountain. This hike is often compared to Flatiron in terms of difficulty, but I think it’s the easier of the two.

Arizona Trail

From the parking lot, you’ll start off on a section of the Arizona Trail. This part of the trail is easy to follow and relatively flat, and horses sometimes share the trail with you. At just over half a mile, keep a sharp eye out for a left turn on Picketpost Mountain Trail toward the mountain. Now the fun begins!

Picketpost Mountain Trail

It seems like every time we hike Picketpost Mountain, we take a slightly different route because there are several trails all over the place. There’s the one marked by the pink dots, the one marked by the white dots, the one marked by the red arrows, and a bunch of unmarked ones, too. Actually, word is that the red arrow person has been identified, and every decent hiker in the valley is angry with her for desecrating not only this trail but several others in the Superstition Wilderness. Please! Do not paint on this beautiful mountain!

The best resource for staying on the trail is GPS, but the general idea is to ascend the lower formations and then move to the right to ascend the gulley between what I like to think of as the towers of a beautiful castle. Don’t worry if you don’t get this exactly right. Chances are you’ll soon intersect with another trail that will get you there. As you make your way to the gully, the hiking gets more fun as it soon turns into light climbing. (Ugh, that red arrow!)

Trail up Picketpost Mountain

You’ll generally follow the gulley the rest of the way to the top, but the trail does leave it sometimes (and sometimes it’s steep and loose, making you wonder why someone decided that way was “better”), so check your GPS every now and then. There are some portions of the trail that pass through solid rock and may or may not have cairns (but they might have a red arrow, sadly. . . okay, I’ll stop).

Finding the Picketpost Mountain Summit

Now here’s the important part. When you get to the top, you’re not there yet. And even more confusingly, the “top” is not those cool looking castle towers to your left and right—it’s actually straight ahead, and you need to follow a pretty decent trail along a flat section before you’ll be there. Trust me, I’ve heard so many people who have done this hike and never found the “top” because they didn’t have GPS. You won’t be that person. But you might be this person, striking your pose on the summit to show off your swagger.

Summit of Picketpost Mountain

Or this person? Just no. CUT!

Hugging a century plant

But. . . where’s the mailbox? The summit used to have a cool little bench and a cute mailbox filled with notes and surprises left by other hikers. I’m not sure if the LNT people or the riffraff got to it, but it was gone! That means we need a flashback picture to the good ol’ days.

Mailbox and bench that used to be on Picketpost Mountain
The mailbox and bench that used to be on Picketpost Mountain

Word on the street, or maybe the trail, is the mailbox has been replaced, and we can once again leave notes for our fellow hikers. Leave one for me!

On the way down, there’s a good chance there will be at least ONE spot that doesn’t look familiar. “Did we do this on the way up?” No, probably not. But you’ll probably still get there unless you get cliffed out. I mean, it happens.

Trail going down Picketpost Mountain

When you get back to the parking lot, don’t forget to turn around and behold that magnificent mountain! Hopefully, it’s bathed in afternoon light and begging for you to take its photo.

Map & Directions

Location Tonto National Forest, Superior, Arizona

Take US60 to the turn off for Picketpost Mountain. Follow this dirt road to the T, make a left, and then follow that road to the trailhead. This road should be fine for all passenger vehicles.

Trailhead Facilities There are pit toilets. No water.

Download KML or GPX

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Disclaimer Outdoor activities have inherent risk, and we will not be able to tell you all the risks you may face. You are responsible for your own safety, so prepare as well as you can and know your limits. Follow this guide at your own risk. And have fun!

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