Pinal County High Point Trip Report

north slope of Rice Peak on Oracle and Campo Bonito USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles

Date: March 8, 2003
Authors: Scott Surgent and Beth Cousland

We left Chandler about 8:30 am, and arrived in Oracle about 10:30. In Oracle, the main street is called American Way; take this to the Mt. Lemmon Road. The road becomes hard-pack a couple miles out of town; turn right at the Y-junction and drive this road past the American Flag and 3-C ranches to the mouth of Peppersauce Canyon, across the way from the signed "Boy's Town" complex. The road up Peppersauce Canyon is rough and not suggested for passenger vehicles. We took the truck in about 1/2 mile past one icky section and parked just east of the "tank" noted on the topo, right about 4,700 feet elevation.

We walked up this road until we came to a Y-junction. The left fork is signed as FR-29 and is presumably where the double-dashed road shown on the map "ends" (or begins, relatively speaking). Follow FR-29 up as it gains steady and steeply, curling around one ridge and eventually coming to a junction with FR-29C (Ignore an unsigned junction that occurs about 500 feet before). Rice Peak is in view here and we stopped here to rest and snack, plus shoot some photos.

Turn right on FR-29C and very shortly it comes to a substantial junction with FR-4472. Turn right. It isn't marked clearly this direction but a later sign confirms this is FR-4472. This section is mostly level as it contours above the Peppersauce Canyon headwall. Soon, FR-4472 meets FR-4483; stay left and start up the steep, rocky and eroded FR-4483, staying right at one junction and eventually coming up to the main ridge, which is the junction with the Arizona Trail.

We stayed on the road as it gained and dropped a little bit. There is one last Y junction, unmarked on the map, but marked as FR-4475 on the sign. Stay right on 4483 as it gains steeply up and around the back of Rice Peak. We gained the summit after a total of just over 3 hours of hiking, and nearly 2,800 feet of gain. After a short break we started the trudge down the north slopes to seek out the liner cairn and also to visit the rock knobs, both areas vying for Pinal's HP honors.

Storms in recent weeks had left a lot of snow up high, and we had consistent snow from about 7,000 feet on up (Rice's top is 7,575 feet). The north face of Rice was still under much snow. We carefully descended until we reached a point with an open view out toward the rock knobs (above them a little bit). I used GPS to get as close to where I felt the liner HP should be, but could not find it under the snow. We stayed as high as possible on the ridge plus hiked out left and right, tagging trees here and there. In places we were sinking up to our knees, believe it or not! But my GPS readings were accurate to the 5th decimal place (UTM), and reckoning with the rocky knobs we concluded we can't have missed it by much -- we were "statistically" there.

We also made the easy hike out to the knobs, where we took photos, before reascending Rice Peak, then out and back to the truck, arriving just as night fell.