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Overview of Brown’s Peak at Four Peaks

Brown’s Peak is definitely a memorable hike! On a clear day, summiting Brown’s Peak (the tallest and northernmost of the Four Peaks) will afford you grand views, extending from the minute-looking Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak in the Phoenix Metro Area, to The Flatiron in the Superstition Mountains, all the way to Humphreys Peak in Flagstaff! Look close, and on the hour you can even see the Fountain Hills Park fountain spout. While this is a fairly short hike, the last half mile or so is epic; the ascent up the “chute” borders the line between hiking/scrambling and full on technical rock climbing. Conquering Brown’s Peak is not for the faint of heart!

Logistics

This can easily be done as a day trip if you are coming from the Phoenix area. If traveling from elsewhere in the state, consider making this a camping trip, or find a ‘home base’ in the Phoenix area to travel from when tackling this adventure. For those interested in camping overnight, there are a few spots on the ridge-line just prior to the trailhead parking lot (do a little exploring on the dirt roads you come across). If interested in packing camping gear in, the saddle immediately prior to the Brown’s Peak summit has also apparently been a great campsite for many, as proven by the various fire rings that can be spotted near the trail. If you do choose to camp, be sure to follow the Leave No Trace Principles. If camping and weather is right, you will have some amazing stargazing opportunities!

Browns Peak Four Peaks Arizona

View from the top!

To get to the trailhead, take Arizona State Route 87 north from the Phoenix area and turn right (east) onto the Four Peaks Off Highway Recreation Area road. Travel down this dirt road for approximately 18 miles until you come to Road 648; turn right, and that will take you to the trailhead. Note that some maps show the “Four Peaks” road as the Four Peaks Road, Cline Cabin Road, Service Road 143, Lone Pine Trail, and Forest Road 401 – these all collectively make up the “Four Peaks Road”. If in doubt, plug in these coordinates to your GPS/Mobile Map Service and follow the route: 33.705553, -111.337868. The pin on the below map marks the trailhead parking area. 

The 18 miles of dirt road could take you anywhere from 60-90+ minutes to travel along. However, the drive is basically a day trip unto itself, affording many classic vistas from the comfort of your own vehicle. I would only recommend high clearance vehicles on this road, though four wheel drive vehicles are not required. If you have access to ATVs or other off-highway vehicles, you can use these and will probably get to the trailhead in about 45-50 minutes. No matter your means of getting to the trailhead, drive carefully on this road! There are many hairpin turns, and there are often mountain bikers that enjoy using this dirt road as a training route.

The trailhead parking lot is fairly generous, affording spaces for up to 16-20 vehicles if people park in a courteous manner. To the south side of the parking lot, there are two trails that commence – take the one to the right (west) to get to Brown’s Peak the expeditious way (the signage is lousy and it has been interpreted opposite previously). The hike is only 2.6 miles one way. The first 2 miles or so are what I would call leisurely, with small windows through the trees that allow for views of Phoenix and Fountain Hills down below. At about the 2 mile mark, you will reach a saddle between the initial ridge ascent and the beginning of the formal Four Peaks range. This is a great stopping point for anyone who doesn’t want to scramble up the chute. This spot affords great views of Phoenix down below as well as some great cross section views of the Superstition Mountains and the Flatiron.

For the brutal, last 1/2 mile up the chute to the Brown’s Peak summit, go slow and be sure you have firm footing; don’t be afraid to ask for help or a boost at any point! Follow basic rock climbing principles, ensuring that you have at least three points of contact at any given point (two feet and one hand firmly planted, while one hand is moving onward; two hands and one foot firmly planted, while one foot is moving onward; etc.). There will be a point where it seems like you should go to the left; don’t. Follow the treacherous looking route instead (trust me!); you will only have about eight inches of footing (see image below). This is a somewhat challenging and dangerous path, but it is necessary to traverse to get to the hikeable route. This probably goes without saying, but BE CAREFUL!

Gear and Gadgets

If taking a day trip, what I have listed on the Day Trip Gear Guide should be more than enough for this hike. There are no water facilities at the trailhead, so be sure to bring plenty of your own water along.

Further Reading

Day Trip Gear Guide

Photography Gear & Gadgets

Outdoor & Wilderness First Aid

Leave No Trace Principles

Four Peaks Brown's Summit Arizona

Looking back on the questionable route to the top; don’t go into the brush below…it appears to be a trail, but is not.

Four Peaks Arizona Hike

The last portion of the trail to the top, with the beginning of the chute in sight.

About The Author

Jeremy Meek is a native Arizonan with a passion for adventure and discovery of unique experiences. Whether exploring Arizona or setting out on an adventure abroad, Jeremy is constantly scouting truly great adventures and experiences.

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