Monday, April 4, 2016

Wolverton Mountain, AZ

Hiked: 4/2/2016
Distance: 4.1 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 6704'
Elevation Gain: 500'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.4
Round trip time: 2 hours
Recommended water: 24 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Aspen Creek Trailhead
Difficulty: Easy

We were in Prescott, AZ for a final tour of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, one of the two finalists my daughter was considering for college. We didn't want to drag Parker around campus all day so instead, I dragged him up Wolverton Mountain. Wolverton was really a consolation prize. I wanted to climb Thumb Butte, a short and popular hike near town, but the summit is closed from January to July for peregrine falcon nesting season. A search for another local mountain led to Wolverton, though there was little beta on it outside a few mountain biking blogs. The Wolverton Mountain trail runs below it and can be accessed from highway 89 or the Aspen Creek Trailhead from Copper Basin Road. Copper Basin Road turned to dirt a few miles before the trail, but it was well graded and did not require high clearance.

From the trailhead, cross the road to find trail #48. The trail leading out of the parking lot does not go to Wolverton. It starts along Aspen Creek, which was flowing a little, then crosses over and starts heading up a long switchback. The trail is smooth and surrounded by tall pines that scented the air. At the first junction, stay on trail #48 to the right. The second junction is signed and the Wolverton Trail, #9415, heads left. In another mile, you reach the base of Wolverton. A dirt road branches left here while the trail continues around the mountain to the right. At this intersection, just off the road, we found what looked like a small pet cemetery. A wooden grave marker with the name Trixi was starting to decay and a larger marker on another spot nearby had already fallen.

Start of trail #48

Rock outcrop

Woodpeckers were very active

Wolverton Mountain Trail junction

R.I.P. Trixi

We continued down the road, then took the first use trail we found to what turned out to be the first of two false summits. We descended back to the road and followed it to the just below the true summit. Then, we did some light bushwhacking until we found the top with a wooden bench. The views of the local area were great in most directions, including Thumb Butte and snowy Mount Humphreys, the Arizona high point about 80 miles away. Views behind the bench were blocked by trees. After a short rest, we discovered a nice use trail leading down and followed it to see if it went back to the road. Indeed, it led right back to where we left the road. There was a lone cairn there near the road, but the use trail was somewhat hidden. I set up a second cairn closer to the use trail. It was a fun diversion with near perfect weather.

Parker on the summit bench, not enthusiastic about being photographed

Thumb Butte and Granite Mountain from Wolverton

Prescott and Mt. Humphreys in the distance

Close up of 12633' Mt. Humphreys about 80 miles away


  1. Nice shot of Humphreys. I'd like to get on that summit one of these days. I've heard the views are quite good.

    1. Madison,

      My daughter chose Arizona State on this trip so we'll be making several trips there this summer to get her settled. I hope I have time to hit Humphreys and/or some of the other local mountains. There is a lot of great hiking in AZ.