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Bassett Peak is located within the Galiuro Mountains of Coronado National Forest. With an elevation of 7663 feet, it is the highest peak in the Galiuro Mountains. This place provides wonderful fall foliage in fantastic autumnal colors every year and is our annual must-do hike.
I summited the peak 2020, so when Lin asked for a leader for the long hike, I volunteered, since I might be one of the few people who knew the route.
The weather was beautiful on November 12, although it was slightly chilly in the morning. Eight Trailblazers opted to do the longer hike to the peak. Due to the short daylight in the fall months, I suggested hiking earlier and turning around before 1:30 PM, since driving out from a rough bouldery road would prove to be very very tough, even with 4 wheel drive. Deirdre, Carl, and Lin did a short hike to enjoy the fall colors, take pictures and get their legs exercised while eight of us went ahead for the longer hike.
We started hiking at 8:30 AM. The trail started on the wide dirt road. After a mile of walking we passed a gate, where the official trailhead started. Up the canyon we went, winding up along Ash Creek, where there were many trees with slightly changing leaves, but not much. After a mile and a half, the color of the trees started showing red, orange, yellow, pink, and peach-colored foliage.
I was excited since this was my first fall color viewing this year. Normally we would do the Inner Basin but it was closed this year due to fire damage. The first part of this trail was smooth and gradual without a lot of elevation. The maple, sycamore, ash, and oaks on the sides of the trail provided colorfully scenic views making the hike so pleasant.
Terry, Joyce, and I were in the front, followed by Ken and Greg. After about 3 miles up and down hills, we crossed the streams a few times before reaching the concrete water tank area. From here we made a sharp right turn to the west and started to ascend. This part was rocky and steep, and our speed started to slow down.
I shed a layer since the elevation gain made me sweat. After another mile uphill, we reached the first summit. From here it started to become gradually uphill again. Soon we reached the East Divide Trail junction. The views from the top were marvelous and magnificent! We could see many mountain ranges far away.
Terry pointed to me Mount Wrightson, and we also spotted the white dome top of an observatory in the mountain ranges near there. Passing the interesting third summit with a window on the top, we started a few switchbacks and continued to go up. Lin, Heather, Anna, and Ron radioed us that they had all returned to the trailhead from the concrete water tank mark.
After a few more shaded switchbacks from the south side of the mountain, we reached the summit area. There were a few tricky sand slopes on this part of the trail due to severe erosion and landslides. We carefully steered our bodies to different angles to make sure that we could maintain balance and not slide downhill.
Some of these slopes were so narrow and unstable that it worried people, so last year many hikers returned from this point. Terry, Joyce, and I determined that we would summit so we kept going. After making a turn toward the north sun-facing side I know that we reached the base of the summit. There was no trail in the last ¼ mile to the summit. Tom and I bushwhacked to the summit two years ago so I tried my best to find a better route going up. The manzanita bushes in this area were so dense it was hard to find a walkable path. After several left and right steering, smacking bushes uphill we finally got to the top.
We were overjoyed, since we got here faster than we expected and time-wise we would have enough time for pictures and lunch. I was happy that my two fellow hikers were strong and determined.
Terry found the best spot for group pictures so we took many, and ate our lunch at the top. Greg and Ken radioed us that they would return from the trail junction on the second summit, and not go any farther, since they had to drive back to Phoenix that day and needed to go back before dark.
I signed the log book and found my signature from 2020 year. Since my cell had signal, I texted Tom, since I was excited to see the log again but I forgot to bring a good jar to put the log in as I had intended in 2020. If I am going there next year I will need to bring one so the log book would be protected.
Returning to the trailhead was smooth and easier, although some descending parts were tricky and slippery due to loose rocks. We saw a few people on the trail. Two of them were with dogs on our way down, and it seemed like we were the first group that day to go to the top. To my surprise, I did not see anyone camping this year on our way back. When we got back to the trailhead it was about 16:30. It was perfect timing before sunset and the road getting dark. We had an excellent hike up to Basset Peak.
Our total time was 6 hours 15 minutes with 13.5 miles and 2959 feet of elevation change. I was satisfied with our accomplishment and we celebrated at La Unica Mexican restaurant in Willcox.Note: these links are temporary. Look at the pictures while you can.
→ More pictures, by Li. → More pictures, by Ron.
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated November 30, 2022