Petrified Forest National Park High Point Trip Report

Pilot Rock (6,234 ft)

Date: October 5, 2000
Author: Bob Packard

On Oct 4, 2000 J.D. Green and I drove east on I-40 to exit 292 and went north on AZ 77. We hoped to use the road going northeast about 5 miles north on AZ 77. It was gated and locked. Back to I-40 we went north on Sun Valley Road at exit 294. We went 0.5 miles north, then went east 3.3 miles on Pima Street and camped for the night in my camper.

Next day, Oct 5, we drove 4.3 miles north on Sheri Road, then picked up a jeep road going east then immediately north. In 2.4 miles we came to a locked gate and an old sign reading: "Posted, No Trespassing, Private Property, Keep Out". Just 50 yards east along the fence line was an unlocked gate. We went through that. This is on Little Lithodendron Quad and about a mile east of Hennessey Buttes which is on Hennessey Buttes Quad.

By the way, the south Hennessey Butte has been mined (for cinders, I think) so far down that it is now much lower than the north Hennessey Butte. In another 1.6 miles another unlocked gate, then another, now going east, in 1.4 miles, then another in 0.8 miles, then going east then north 0.8 miles came to apparent end of any road. This was at the place where Little Lithodendron Quad shows windmill and abandoned building. There were two windmills there, the dilapidated building and a high water tower and a lower water storage tank and a cylindrical water tank out of which cattle could and were drinking. Solar cells ran something there, but we don't know what. No sign of the roads going north and east of this point to the NP boundary west of Pilot Rock showing on the USGS maps.

We hiked the 6.5 miles east and north using wash bed of Digger Wash some and going up through Chinle Formation humps and cliffs to Pilot Rock (6234), HP Petrified Forest NP. Douglas BM with date 1919 and witness dated 1919 and 1936. 4.5 foot cairn with wooden tripod on top. Pilot Rock is a basaltic overlay of the Chinle Formation. Terrific views of the Painted Desert. This area of AZ has no trees, so you get a completely unobstructed view.

We could see the paved road accessing overlooks near the park visitor center 6-7 miles to the south. While I returned to my truck using a more southerly route and hence more of the Digger Wash-bed, J.D. went cross country to the park roads where I picked him up.

Took us 2.5 hours to get to Pilot Rock. Took me 2.3 hours to get back to camper. (We spent half hour on the summit.) Took J.D. 4 hours to get to the park roads. Chinle humps and cliffs in his way.

Elevation gain was 800 feet.