On 5/23/2020 I planned an impromptu exploratory field trip to North Peak for the Rimstones Rock club of Payson. After finding the old AZ Geo Survey Maps of a rock collecting book, hand written maps and types info with mile distance directions. I used Google Earth (on my phone) to plot the markers talked about in the book. Here is the old map;
The book mentioned a road that ran parallel to DollBaby Ranch Rd about 5 miles from the old Bowling ally and old High school(Now the Elementary school). Using the Oxbow Saloon as that farthest marker because the bowling ally would have been right around there I believe back in the 70’s? This road we all believe would now be the FR 414. The next marker the book talked about was the intersection about North Peak Trailhead sign(no longer there). This would of been were the FR193(going south) meets the FR414. And to hunt along either side of the road till the fence 1.5 miles west.
Google Earth and North Peak
If you use the measuring tool in google Earth from the point of FR193 and FR414 intersecting, 1.5 miles would go to an area where you can see two well defined branches of erosion going South West. if you watch the road while driving and even on the map. The road turns to whitish dirt after the cattle guard(fence). I believed this would have been the area the map was referring to and just looked promising because the amount of washes to explore and different color to the soil.
So after meeting the club members that wanted to go at the Country Club near Vista and Country Club. I stated we should drive all the way to North Peak Trail head and watch the road along the way. Once we get there explore a little and work are way back to what seemed like interesting areas. So we all jumped in our trucks and drove roughly 8.2 miles to North Peak Trailhead. The road is well maintained all the way and you did not need 4×4. Some areas you would definitely need a higher clearance vehicle, so passenger cars I would not suggest taking this full trip.
However I would explore the Grapevine area if I were in a passenger car anytime. Simple park were there is a well developed Fire Line staging area just off the 414 and Doll Baby Rd. Hike the area to the south west and down into the wash that runs from Grapevine Spring. I suspect you will find something. And if you do make sure to share it with us by commenting on this post.
Collecting at North Peak Trailhead
The trailhead is well marked when you get there and though it doesn’t seemed well maintained or use. It’s a neat place to visit and explore. It is a snakes paradise though so be very mindful when exploring. We search the trail and wash just beyond the trailhead in both directions. We found plenty of examples of Quartz veins in Granite. Found some large quartz veins with Epidote and some other unknown green micro crystalline material with metal flakes in it. Reminded me of Basonite basalt as it had a sharp edge when broke. We found some large piece in the wash of what appears to be Rhyolite. Showing eye or small rounding geodes throughout.
It reminded me of Leopard skin jasper from Mexico. I believe it would show undercutting in the lighter areas of the rough. But was very solid material. We took a couple home to slice on the 20 inch saw. Brianna found a bit higher up in the wash some nice examples of Copper Oxides showing blues and green minerals. What a cool find so close to Payson!
Next Stop~ Elk Water Catchment
So our next stop we heading back the way we came about 1.5 miles to a turn off that was not well marked. It was tight too so be warned about pin stripping your truck as Ruth said. It was about .4 miles down this tight trail to the end with very limited parking. Only our 4 vehicles could actually fit and it was still pretty tight. I was curiose on what you can see on google earth was some sort of triangle area. This is what turned out to be the Elk water catchment.
This area had a lot of Cypress and was very difficult to navigate around. But we all found agate and what looks like flint right away. I explored to the East and found examples of Epidote. And the crew explored to around the hill and beyond near the catchment. They found examples of more agate and fossils.
So the last stop was the area we all believe the original map was referring to as the collecting area roughly. The map talked about collecting up to the fence. The fence at this point is where there is a cattle guard on FR414. When you hit the cattle guard the color of soil changes drastically white. Now we did not explore the field up to the cattle guard but RSRC members Becky and Larry had in the past and did not find anything. So the last stop was about 1.5 miles after the cattle guard. But I suspect the area that hole a lot of the white color in the soil to be worthy of closer inspection.
We found a few geodes right away and fossils and agate right away too. All of this material cane be found North of Payson as well so we are all very familiar with it. What I was looking for was anything that may resemble a Septarian nodule and to my luck i found some mud casts with breccaited viens of calcite or some sort of secondary mineral. Nothing worth cutting or polishing but interesting none the less.
In the end we feel at least we were able to confirm what the original author of the map was talking about. And maybe future trips will be made there to look for better examples of Septarians. Here is some examples of the materials we found.