W7A/CS-066 parking spot near trailhead

Earlier this month, I spent a week in Flagstaff, AZ finishing my Hybrid Wilderness First Responder course and wanted to try a SOTA summit before I headed back to Kansas City. After searching around for summits nearby (of which there are many), I decided to try W7A/CS-066, O’Neill Crater, since it was nearby and seemed fairly simple to climb with the minimal outdoor gear I brought. I brought my QMX CW radio with a 4S Tuner, some wire, and my Kenwood TH-D74A handheld with stock rubber duck, and headed up toward the summit.

Off the bat, this summit is fairly easy to get to. After spending a little bit of time on gravel roads driving through a small community, you end up passing a sign stating your presence on National Forest Land. There’s an immediate turn off where you can park (KR7RK’s GPS route starts in this area). The trail is quite wide and easy at this point. Soon though, it gets steeper and rockier with a lot of small loose rocks. I found the climb up, while tiring due to the grade, was not too bad, and I didn’t recall having much concern slipping or tripping. On the way back down though, that was a different story. Definitely need to take it slow here to avoid a fall due to rocks shifting. At some points, I wish I had trekking poles but they were definitely not required.

Trail gets steep with many loose rocks.


A little farther up the trail, the vegetation changes and it gets rockier. Towards the top, a little bit of a scramble was needed to get to the absolute peak. It was a very quiet morning at the summit and the views were beautiful in each direction! I was at the summit for about two hours and did not see any other people other than some driving on the roads below. As shown in the photos at the summit, there are no trees at the summit to hoist up an antenna. I did not bring a mast at all, so I decided against getting the QMX out. I probably could have draped wires around enough to get on the air but didn’t bother. Instead, I decided to use my 5W HT on VHF. After calling out on 146.520 MHz a bit and hearing nothing, I tuned to the wide area coverage repeaters in Flagstaff and down south a bit to see if I could find some locals to change to simplex. To my surprise, not a single ham from Flagstaff called me back over the two hours of me popping around various repeaters. I did speak to several hams on the repeaters who were much farther away (Prescott Valley, Gilbert, etc.) who were happy to tune to simplex and try me, but we were just too far away and I only heard a few who could not hear me back. Despite not activating the summit, I enjoyed a quiet morning with a great view and good workout before I drove down to Phoenix to jump on a plane that afternoon.

All in all, this summit is a good one to visit near Flagstaff if you only have a couple hours. It is a fairly steep climb though, so be mindful of your physical condition especially at this altitude (it’s about 7000′ at the summit). My advice would be to bring a mast or a loaded vertical like a Super Antenna for HF operations and probably a small Yagi for VHF/UHF like the Arrow Antenna. On VHF/UHF, coordinating with others is probably also required as the activity in Flagstaff seemed very light in general while I was in town. This was my first time exploring the area, but I will definitely be back!