Harquahala Mountain, February, 2019

In early February Linda and I and our dogs camped in the open desert near Vicksburg, Arizona, east of Quartzsite. We were boondocking, which meant we had no hookups but did have a lot of room for ourselves and dark nights. We spent three nights there. Linda spent February 6 and 7 hiking and mountain biking from our campsite. On the morning of February 6 I left camp to hike Harquahala Mountain.

The view from the Harquahala Pack Trail which climbs over the high saddle ahead
The view from the Harquahala Pack Trail which climbs over the high saddle ahead

From camp I drove through Salome on US 60, then followed a dirt road to the Harquahala Pack Trail trailhead. The trail climbs from the McMullen Valley floor to the summit of Harquahala Mountain. Harquahala Mountain (Yavapai: ‘Hakhe:la), the highpoint of the Harquahala Mountains, is the 17th most prominent peak in Arizona with 3461 feet of topographic prominence and 5681 feet of elevation.

The trail traverses steep slopes ahead as it climbs to the saddle.
The trail traverses steep slopes ahead as it climbs to the saddle.

The Harquahala Pack Trail climbs the northwest slopes of Harquahala Mountain. It was used to access and transport supplies and equipment to the Harquahala Peak Observatory near the summit. The trail traverses steep slopes as it climbs to the saddle. This would have been a much more difficult hike if it were not for the trail.

The Harquahala Mountain summit structures come into view as I approach the saddle
The Harquahala Mountain summit structures come into view as I approach the saddle

The observatory operated from 1920 to 1925 to measure and record solar activity. The observatory was abandoned in 1925 but is preserved as an historical site. There is a primitive road providing access to the summit from the southeast.

The Harquahala Mountain summit view southwest along the spine of the Harquahala Mountains
The Harquahala Mountain summit view southwest along the spine of the Harquahala Mountains

I hiked the trail to the summit. The sky was clear, but there was a cold wind on the summit. I savored the summit views and identified many of the surrounding ranges and peaks. To the southwest I identified Castle Dome Peak, Signal Peak, and Cunningham Mountain that I had climbed in November 2017. To the southeast I enjoyed the views of Woolsey Peak and Saddle Mountain that I had climbed in January 2018.

I soon started descending to get out of the wind and I noted two ATVs slowly climbing up the road. I was away before they arrived and otherwise I had the day to myself. My hike was about 10.4 miles with 3500 feet of cumulative gain round trip.

Salome Peak and Wenden from my descent of the Harquahala Pack Trail
Salome Peak and Wenden from my descent of the Harquahala Pack Trail

I returned to our campsite to learn that Linda had worn out the dogs on a hike to the base of the nearby Granite Wash Mountains and back. The dogs were happy to spend a quiet evening and night with us in the trailer.

Paul McClellan

About Paul McClellan

I had the good fortune to have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, where I discovered the joys and addiction of hiking and climbing in the Cascade Mountains and other mountain ranges in the Western United States.
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