Thursday, May 4, 2017


Hiked: 5/4/2017
Distance: 0.5 miles round trip cross country
Summit Elevation: 1267'
Elevation Gain: 250'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.2
Round trip time: 25 minutes
Recommended water: 16 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on unnamed dirt road
Difficulty: Easy

The Alligator is a long, low ridge that looks like an alligator's back. It is just south of I-10 near Desert Center. I've made several trips from Orange County to Phoenix in the last couple of years since my daughter is going to college there and the alligator is one of several interesting geologic features that always grabbed my attention. I was on the way to Phoenix to help my daughter move home for the summer, and I was solo, so I took the time to stop and bag it. I took exit 192 from I-10 for highway 177, then turned south on an unnamed dirt road. The road consisted of deep sand and I immediately went into 4x4 mode. I would not try this road without high clearance and 4x4. I drove to a spot just north of the summit, only a quarter mile away and started off cross country. Early May is not the best time to be desert peak bagging and my car temp gauge read 99 degrees. I thought with such a short hike, there would be little danger from the heat. I picked my way up the volcanic ridge facing nothing worse than class 2 on the north side. I gained the top of the ridge a little north of the summit and worked my way over the basalt spine to the benchmark. I wanted to sit and enjoy the view a few minutes, but the summit was swarming with flying black ants. They were not in the mood to share the summit. I snapped a few quick photos, then started to descend on the south side while batting the ants that landed on my neck, arms, and face. The south side of the summit took a little more care to traverse but soon I was back to the truck. It was a fun, short jaunt that scratched the itch I had to climb it.

Alligator from my starting point

Starting to climb

Final approach to the summit

Alligator benchmark, stamped Gator 1931

Looking down the north spine from the summit

Looking down the south spine from the summit



  1. Neat little hike. I used to make that drive to Phoenix a lot when my grandfather lived in Surprise. But I never wrestled the Gator.

    1. Sean,

      The gator is calling, a short side trip the next time you drive out that way. The original owner of Desert Center supposedly dug his own grave at the head of the gator, but was buried somewhere else.

  2. Oppressive heat, swarming ants, impassable road. Awesome! What else could one want in a short hike? Lol

    1. Haha! All minor annoyances to ride the gator. I don't think those ants are usually there, just bad luck. That said, getting stuck in the sand would be pretty inconvenient.