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Four Peaks Wilderness

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Saguaro cactus washed in golden evening light, with towering snow-covered mountains looming over the desert landscape far beyond.
Library image #2647: Saguaro cactus, with snow covered mountains of the Four Peaks Wilderness in the background.


The United States Congress designated the Four Peaks Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 60,717 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Arizona and is managed by the Forest Service.


Rising from desert foothills near the center of the Wilderness, a major mountain with four peaks can be seen from great distances in all directions. From the craggy summits the land drops down a complex series of ridges and drainages to bluffs and deep gorges. Elevations vary from around 1,600 feet to 7,657 feet on Brown's Peak, the highest of the four peaks. Ponderosa pine and some Douglas fir grow in the highlands. A few aspen stand on the north side of Brown's Peak. Intermediate elevations have produced impenetrable thickets of manzanita, Gambel oak, and pinion pine. Below 4,000 feet, grasslands blend into the Upper Sonoran Desert and impressively huge saguaro cacti thrive. The narrow canyons are pleasingly shaded with cottonwoods and sycamores. One of the densest black bear populations in Arizona lives in this Wilderness. Other mammals include ring-tailed cats, skunks, coyotes, deer, javelinas, and mountain lions. Keep your eyes open for rattlesnakes, scorpions, black widow spiders, centipedes, and millipedes. If you climb the mountain be prepared for temperatures noticeably cooler than down below. Lightning storms occur regularly during "desert monsoon season" (July and August) and flash floods are common. Snow accumulates here in winter. A 40-mile trail network offers ample hiking opportunities. Some trails, such as Brown's Trail (two miles) and Pigeon Trail (two miles), are in excellent shape, while others are in poor condition, among them the Cane Spring Trail (2.3 miles) and the Oak Flat Trail (1.8 miles). Most of the trails receive little human use. The notable exceptions are Brown's Trail and the Four Peaks Trail, a 10-miler that traverses the northern and eastern flanks of Four Peaks. Springs and streams are seasonal, and water is often impossible to find. Group size is limited to 15 people and 15 head of livestock. Length of stay is limited to 14 days.

Planning to Visit the Four Peaks Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Four Peaks Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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