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Rice Peak Professional Review and Guide
"A challenging run with broad views from the 7,577-ft. summit. Camp at the Forest Service Peppersauce Campground. Suitable for aggressive stock vehicles with good articulation, skid plates and an experienced driver. Steep at the top. Dangerous if snow-covered or icy. Route-finding complex. Some brush."
--Charles A. Wells, Guide to Arizona Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (FunTreks).
This is quite a fun run, probably more so once you have done it the first time and eliminated some of the nervous anticipation. The book rates it as difficult but toward the lower end of the difficulty scale. I would say that is about right. The book shows it as difficult almost from the turn off from the back route to Mt. Lemon but I would say lots of that first part is easy followed by some intermediate. Only the last 1.5 miles or so to the top is difficult due to the steep climb and lose rock on the trail. It doesn't require very much ground clearance. The difficult part of the trail is only wide enough for one vehicle and there are hardly any places you could pull off to bypass another vehicle coming the other direction so hope that nobody else is coming. I saw a Jeep coming down just as I was headed up and was able to find a small pullout to wait for them to pass. I wouldn't really want to have to back down the steep section. Because I went alone and the book described some very tight switchbacks for the return part of the loop in which it suggests you pull forward and then back-down one or two of the switchbacks, I decided to go back the way I came. My friend told me later that the back-down portion of the switchbacks are probably only about 20 feet of reversing so probably not as bad as I thought but still something to keep in mind. Its probably better if you have a spotter for those switchbacks. I am looking forward to doing it again now that I know I can make it. I was nervous about the descriptions of steep especially after encountering the middle section where it was steep enough that I had to back-down and re-approach once but it turned out that the top 0.2 miles to the peak is about the same grade. Have fun - enjoy the ride.
Don't do it when icy. Barely made it up. Perfect with Powder, though.
A previous reviewer noted this trail is not 'for the faint of heart.' I will strongly second that opinion! The trail itself was only of moderate difficulty for my completely stock '07 Toyota FJ Cruiser, but it's what's around the trail that makes it seem so much more difficult. The shelf road is narrow, and the views out the windows (i.e. straight down) are at once inspiring and terrifying.
At the very end the road comes to a 'T' - on the left is the final climb to the summit, and on the right the trail appears to continue. In fact it does not; the trail to the right ends abruptly and is a difficult turn-around.
The final climb to the summit is the most challenging of the whole trip, mostly because of a step and dip at the very top where the trail has been damaged.
Incredible experience, highly recommended!!!
Very nice run up a trail that should rate at least 2.5 - 3 (on the typical 5 scale). That last 1/4 mile or so to the summit is very slick broken shale rock, 4 wheel drive an absolute must. There's a new hole just before getting to the top from someone spinning their tires too much.
Very tight switchbacks, even small Jeeps had to do two tries to get around. One dead-end trail easy to end up on by mistake. High clearance a must, skid plates recommended, full size vehicles definitely will have problems with the switchbacks.
Gorgeous views from the summit. The trip was a blast.
Great trail. Not difficult until the last 1.5 miles then switch backs are tight and trail is steep and narrow... Unbelivable views at the summit... Not for the faint of heart..
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