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Best Tough Hike Phoenix 2013 - Picketpost Mountain

This monument of a mountain looms over the surrounding desert between Phoenix and Superior, offering up one of the trickiest hikes near the Valley. (Take the unmarked dirt road to the Saddleridge Trail on the left, which ends at the trailhead parking lot.) It is not the length or elevation gain that makes this hike so difficult (though at nearly four miles in length and just under 2,000 feet gained, it is no easy feat); it is the exposure and lack of trail markers that truly challenge the hiker.

Starting easy along a small section of the Arizona Trail, Picketpost veers off toward the mountain to pursue a steep, cairn-marked trail lined with some of the biggest saguaros to witness your seemingly self-guided journey. A trail beginning with steep switchbacks, the hiker confronts it eventually with an even steeper ascent up rock-scramble canyons, slippery ridges, and bare rock cliff walls. But no tough hike would be complete without a rewarding summit, and the plateau top of Picketpost gives the successful climber an old mailbox to log your accomplishment, accompanied by a spectacular view of the East Valley and the backside of the superstitions. A hard hike along a rough trail, Picketpost Mountain is an achievement to be sure, but not for the faint of heart — literally or figuratively.

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