Pete Mountain

This peak is also known as Sugarloaf or Santa Rita Peak but I'm listing it like it's labeled on my topo.  The route from Agua Caliente Saddle is off trail so it's a bit brushy and fades here and there, but it's more established than the route to McCleary Peak.

December 28, 2009
It had snowed about a week earlier but warmed up inbetween so I was surpised to see snow all the way down to the parking lot in Madera Canyon.  It was only a few inches deep the whole way up though so it didn't present much of a problem other than being iced up on the lower trail in the morning.


The forest in the canyon bottom a little way up from the trailhead.  There's a wide variety of large trees and shrubs in these moist lower creek beds.  This is a typical view of these relatively open and rocky forest floors that are shaded by a dense canopy above.  Arching overhead from the left is a large Arizona White Oak, the white trunks behind it are Arizona Sycamore, on the left edge is a small Apache Pine, in the right background is a Southwestern White Pine, the tall narrow trunks are probably Arizona Walnut or could be Arizona Ash, and somewhere in there are Silverleaf Oak which are very common in this area.


This is a view of Pete Mountain and the ridge that the off-trail route follows to get to it, taken from the hill that rises a little above Agua Caliente Saddle.  Unfortunately the route also follows all the dips and rises along that ridge rather than contouring, but it's not too bad.

 
These are taken from the same point as the previous photo, with the first looking at a heavily forested gully on the north side of Mt Hopkins that escaped the Florida Fire.  It appears that the slope on the right is almost entirely Southwestern White Pine while the upper left has much more Ponderosa Pine, maybe this is due to slope grade or geology or fire history.  The second photo looks down Agua Caliente Canyon to the west which empties into the Santa Cruz River below.


View east across the wide expanse of Madera Canyon to the Santa Rita crest, taken from Pete Mountain.  The parking loop at the end of the road is on the lower left almost exactly 4000' below Mt Wrightson and a little more than 2000' below Pete Mountain.


View south across the head of Agua Caliente Canyon to Mt Hopkins with the observatory perched on its rocky summit.  Agua Caliente Saddle is at the low point where the ridge at left connects to Mt Hopkins.


The rocky peaks to the west that are also prominently visible from the road where they rise up above the mouth of Madera Canyon.  The Santa Cruz Valley is in the background below and the Baboquivari Mountains form the horizon with their namesake peak on the left and Kitt Peak with its telescopes on the flat highpoint on the right.  The cluster of peaks to the right of Kitt Peak are the Coyote Mountains, which is an impressive subrange of the Baboquivari Mountains.
 

Higher resolution pan of the crest with McCleary Peak the farthest left highpoint and Josephine Peak on the far right, both of which are several hundred feet higher than Pete Mountain.  The Super Trail can be seen at bottom center climbing up to Josephine Saddle and again on the slope below Mt Wrightson heading towards the saddle with Josephine Peak.  The Old Baldy Trail isn't really visible except for the switchbacks heading up to Baldy Saddle which is the lowest point left of Mt Wrightson.  The Four Springs Trail can be seen switchbacking towards the bare white burn patch on the left, and then it contours over to the saddle with McCleary Peak, at which point it crosses into Florida Canyon on the other side.



This is the GPS file for this hike that can be opened in Google Earth. You may have to explicitly specify the gpx extension when saving, petemtn.gpx.  My batteries went dead near the end so there's a funky break in the data and it skips to the summit then backtracks almost all the way to the start of the break.