Ascent of Harquahala Mountain on 2018-03-31

Climber: Jon Adams

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, March 31, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Harquahala Mountain
    Elevation:5681 ft / 1731 m

Ascent Trip Report

Had intermittently thought about doing Harquahala over the years, mostly thinking to drive to the top as there's a fine dirt/gravel road that leads in from the south. However, with my recently new-found enthusiasm for summiting peaks under my own power, and discovering recently that Harquahala had a trail that approached from the north, it was on my list of the Arizona 2000' prominence / 25 mile isolation peaks.

Using the trip report of Sexauer, I found the BLM dirt road that exited US 60 just about 0.2 miles west of the forlorn palm tree on the north side of the highway. And like him, As there happened to be a road-bike cyclist heading east when I spied the palm tree, I missed the turnoff. After returning, there's closed but not locked gate just off US 60, and then it's maybe 2 miles to the trailhead. Nice trailhead as well, with plenty of parking and a toilet.

I had meant to get up at 0600 and get on the trail by 0830, but a great beer-tasting event the night before extracted a bit of a toll on me so didn't get up until 0700 or so, and finally got on the road by about 0815. I-10 west to Salome Road, then NW to US 60, then ENE to the dirt road.

While the weather had promised a high of only 75F or so and clouds, when i got to the trailhead it was already about 80F with thin cirrus.

Trailhead was completely jam-packed with cars. Amazing! However, no one was around and I figured that everyone had done the right thing and started the hike hours earlier.

The first kilometer or so beyond the steel pole-fence was a continuation of the original jeep trail, but now only for horses, hikers and mountain bikers. Made sure that my two-way ham radio handheld was dialed into the amateur radio repeater on Smith Peak, on the north side of the McMullen valley. Way more reliable than cellular in case something happened to this lone hiker.
Trail is in very good shape. The first 2-2.5 km or so is a gentle grade, that helped to get my blood flowing. Once in the canyon proper, the trail switchbacks back and forth climbing the east canyon wall until a ~4300' saddle is achieved. Along the lower part, I crossed paths with a total of 4 people, all headed down. At the saddle, there was a clear and fine view from SE through SW, then from NE to NW. And, I saw coming down the trail above bunches of people. Ended up being about 20 in all, by the time I'd made it half of the remaining distance to the top. Everyone was friendly.

Making the summit, I did the obligatory shot of the benchmark but was unable to find the peak register that had been placed there by Sexauer in September 2017.

All in all, it was a fine hike, but it kicked my fat ass. Ended up well over 90F, and while the trail was well marked, easy to follow, fairly gentle grade, I was so whipped by the time I got back to the truck (everyone was gone then and it was 91F at 1645) that I forgot to take the truck out of 4x4 all the way home %^(... That's what happens when I don't hike for 20 days!

Pictures and more at WirelessJon
Summary Total Data
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Jon Adams
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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