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Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.
– Ruth Gordon

Trailheads for Classic Desert Peaks

We present the trailhead descriptions alphabetically by name.


Agua Caliente Trailhead

This trailhead is at 4,580 feet, and provides access to Chino Basin, Chino Canyon, and the south and east sides of Elephant Head in southern Arizona. Take exit 56 off of Interstate 19 south of Tucson, go to the east side of the highway, turn south onto the frontage road, and measure from this point. Go south on the frontage road, pass around the east side of a freeway rest area, continue south, and turn east (left) onto Elephant Head Road at mile 3.2. Go east on the gravel Elephant Head Road, bear south (right) at mile 4.7, and turn left onto the Agua Caliente Canyon Road at mile 10.2. Go north on the rougher, dirt Agua Caliente Canyon Road to Agua Caliente Canyon, go east up the south side of the canyon, stay straight at mile 10.7, and reach the trailhead parking area at mile 12.6. The parking area is on the south (right) side of the road just before the road descends to the north and crosses the creek bed. The start of Forest Trail 930 is 100 yards west of (before) the parking area on the north side of the road.

East Currant Trailhead

This trailhead is at 7,800 feet, and provides access to the east side of Currant Mountain, Nevada. Go 28 miles southwest of Ely, Nevada on US 6 or 23 miles northeast of Currant, turn west onto a good gravel road signed for the White River Campground, and measure from this point. Go west on the gravel road, enter the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest at mile 3.9, pass the pay station for the White River Campground at mile 7.1, and reach the White River Campground at mile 9.6. This campground is unusual in that it has campsites scattered along road for several miles. Continue west past the campground, and turn south (left) onto FR 407 (405 on some maps) at mile 10.7. Go south on FR 407, crest a small rise, and turn west (right) onto an unmarked dirt road at mile 12.4. Go west on this rougher road to the point where the canyon narrows at mile 12.9 and park at a small pullout on the road’s south side. This is the trailhead.
The road beyond this point is washed out in three places by the stream flowing from the northeast side of Currant Mountain, and the washouts are impassible to full-size vehicles. There is a good campsite 0.3 mile below the trailhead.

Elephant Tusk Trailhead

This trailhead is at 2,530 feet, provides access to the southeast side of Elephant Tusk in Texas, and is the closest vehicle approach to the peak. Reaching this trailhead requires a 4WD vehicle.
From Big Bend National Park Headquarters at Panther Junction, go 5.4 miles southeast on Texas 118 (paved), turn south (right) onto the Glenn Spring Road (gravel) and measure from this point. Go south then west on the Glenn Springs Road, and staying on the Glenn Springs Road, turn south (left) at an intersection with the road into Pine Creek at mile 2.5. Go south toward Glenn Springs and continue straight at an intersection with the Juniper Creek Road at mile 6.9. Continue south toward Glenn Springs and turn west (left) onto the Black Gap Road at mile 8.6. The road to this point is passable with a 2WD vehicle, but the Black Gap Road requires a 4WD vehicle. Go southwest on the Black Gap Road to reach the Elephant Tusk Trailhead at mile 13.6. There is a remote campsite at the trailhead, which requires a reservation from the Park’s backcountry office. The Park only permits camping along the backcountry roads at designated campsites. The campsite is on the south side of the road, the trailhead is on the north side of the road and is marked with a metal sign for the Elephant Tusk Trail. You can easily see Elephant Tusk 4.5 miles to the northwest.

Mascot Canyon Trailhead

This trailhead is at 5,700 feet, and provides access to the southeast side of Dos Cabezas in southern Arizona. If you are approaching from the north, leave Interstate 40 at Exit 340, go through the town of Wilcox, and go 15 miles east-southeast on AZ 186 to the small town of Dos Cabezas. If you are approaching from the south, go 17 miles northwest on AZ 186 from the entrance road to Chiricahua National Monument to reach the town of Dos Cabezas. In the center of Dos Cabezas, turn north onto the Mascot Canyon Road and measure from this point.
Go 0.6 mile north on the Mascot Canyon Road past some houses to a gate with a sign-in station. Entrance to the surrounding private property is allowed, but you must sign in. After signing in and passing through the gate, go 1.5 miles northeast on the Mascot Canyon Road to a point just short of the base of the canyon where another road goes northwest then north up a steep hill. This is the trailhead and there is ample parking in the vicinity. You can reach this point with a 2WD vehicle.
The Mascot Canyon Road is gated 0.5 mile beyond this trailhead, and the continuing road is not the route. If you have a 4WD vehicle, you can leave the Mascot Canyon Road, follow a 4WD road northwest then west up a steep hill, pass an old mine, and continue west up the 4WD road to a small saddle at 6,260 feet. This is the 4WD parking spot. This steep road really does require a high clearance, 4WD vehicle. It is 0.7 mile from the 2WD trailhead to the 4WD parking spot, and driving to this point saves 560 feet of gain. If you want to camp near here, go an additional 0.2 mile west to another broad saddle area at 6,192 feet. This prodigious perch provides an unobstructed view to the south.

Rancho San Luis Trailhead

This trailhead provides access to the west side of Pico Risco in northern Baja, and is the closest vehicle approach to the peak. The Rancho is nearly as high as the peak, and just driving here can be an adventure.
From Ensenada, go 25 miles southeast on Mexico Highway 3 to a signed, paved turnoff for the small town of Ojos Negros. Turn east (right) in Ojos Negros, and carefully follow signs for the Parque Nacional de Constitucion 1857 as the road goes east, then north. Enter the park, pass some buildings, and reach Laguna Hanson, which will be to the east (right). This wonderful, forested area is a great place to camp, and many locals come here to beat the summer heat, but it can be surprisingly cold in winter. Be prepared to pay a fee, which was $10 in 2003. Dollars are accepted. Laguna Hanson is very shallow, and is sometimes dry, but the boulder fairyland around the lake is always worth exploring.
From Laguna Hanson, go north to a signed turn for Rancho San Luis, turn east (right) and go 4 miles to the Rancho. The Rancho gate is locked, and it is best to park your vehicle outside the gate. Walk into the Rancho, and introduce yourself to the friendly couple and their dogs. Tell them that you are there to climb Pico Risco, and it is a good idea to present them with a gift of food or clothes. There is no refrigeration at the Rancho, and in the winter months, fresh food makes a nice gift. Your gift will help those that follow you.

West Baboquivari Trailhead

This trailhead is at 3,540 feet and provides access to the west side of Baboquivari Peak in southern Arizona. Locate the service station on the west side of Sells, Arizona on AZ 86, which is in the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation. Go 0.2 mile east of this service station on AZ 86, turn south onto a paved road and go 0.6 mile south then east to a junction with a sign for “Topowa, San Miguel.” Turn south (right) onto Indian Route 19, and go 9.1 miles south passing through the village of Topowa to the unsigned, dirt road for Baboquivari Park. Turn east (left) onto this good dirt road, and go 11.3 miles east to the Baboquivari Campground, which is at the end of the road.
You can obtain permits for camping at Baboquivari Mountain Park Campground by mail or phone in advance by contacting the Baboquivari District Office, PO Box 3001, Sells, AZ 85634 at (520) 383-2366. You can also obtain permits on a first come-first served basis at the campground from the caretaker who lives just west of the campground, or from the Baboquivari District Office, Monday through Friday from 8AM-5PM. The District Office is located at the junction of Indian Route 19 and the Baboquivari Mountain Park Road. The tribe charges a fee for overnight camping and day use.
Copyright © 2001-2018 by Gerry Roach. All Rights Reserved.
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