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Mount Ajo Peak, AZPrint Full | Basic
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Description 32 Triplogs 2 Topics
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 Ajo
Statistics
Difficulty 4    Route Finding
Distance Round Trip 9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,350 feet
Elevation Gain 2,450 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,800 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 23
gpsjoe
Descriptions 16
Routes 123
Photos 2,810
Trips 140 map ( 1,516 miles )
Age 72
Location Mesa, AZ
Photos
Rated Viewed All Mine Friends
12  2013-12-08 JuanJaimeiii
19  2013-03-23 writelots
73  2013-03-23 tibber
30  2013-01-13
 Organ Pipe Cactus NM - Wi
 Randal Schulhaus
21  2011-12-30 Randal Schulhaus
2  2011-12-26 Booneman
24  2011-12-04 JuanJaimeiii
22  2010-03-21 writelots
55  2010-03-20 tibber
5  2010-02-06
 Arch Canyon - Organ Pipe
 cabel
15  2009-04-27 davis2001r6
10  2009-04-27 sbkelley
Page 1,  2
Large Profile
Trailhead Forecast
Historical Weather
Radar
NPS Organ Pipe Cactus NM
Wilderness Organ Pipe Cactus
Backpack - Possible - Not Popular
Seasons - Late Autumn to Early Spring
Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
0.0  Bull Pasture - Estes Canyon Loop
4.0  Grass Canyon Loop
4.0  Alamo Canyon - Organ Pipe NM
6.6  Arch Canyon - Organ Pipe NM
6.7  Ajo Mountain Drive - 21 mile bike loop - ORP
6.7  Visitor Center Trail - Organ Pipe NM
[ View More! ]
Culture
     Benchmark
     Cactuscat Pose
     HAZ Gear
     johnr1
Space
Fauna
     Bighorn Sheep
Space
Flora
     Barrel Cactus
     Brittlebush
     Buckhorn Cholla
     Chain Fruit Cholla
     Fairy Duster
     Fremont's Pincushion
     Hedgehog Cactus
     Hopbush
     Indian Paintbrush
     Mexican Vervain
     Nichol's Hedgehog Cactus
     Ocotillo
     Organ Pipe Cactus
     Owl Clover
     Teddy Bear Cholla
Space
Geology
     Natural Arch

Very Scenic Low Desert
by gpsjoe

Mobile Version
The hike to the peak of Mount Ajo is both challenging and beautiful. The views of the surrounding mountains into Mexico along the trail and at the peak are spectacular. The lush vegetation in Bull Pasture and especially Estes Canyon added another dimension to this hike. These areas get enough water to support some of the healthiest organ pipe, saguaro and cholla cactus plants I have ever seen. Some chollas were 8 to 10 feet tall and looked like small trees. I have seen plenty of chollas but these were unusual.

Going in we followed the Bull Pasture Trail all the way to Bull Pasture. Along the way there are views to the south to mountains in Mexico. This is a maintained trail that climbs from the trailhead at 2,350 feet to 3,250 feet in about 1.5 miles reaching the end of the official trail overlooking bull pasture where ranchers once kept cattle during the winter months. The pasture is rich with lush grasses and you can see why it is aptly named. At the end of the Bull Pasture trail there is a second sign-in post I assume is for those continuing on past that point. There is an un-maintained use trail from there to the peak about 2.6 miles long that is marked with rock cairns along the way and is not too difficult to follow. We climbed from 3,250 feet to the peak of Mount Ajo at 4,808 feet on this trail. There are several very steep sections with loose dirt and rocks that make it a bit challenging but ultimately doable. The reward is the spectacular 360 degree views from the top of the mountain ranges of Mexico, Organ Pipe and the Tohono Odham Indian Reservation. At the peak there is a large ammo sign-in box and a couple of low profile solar powered FM antennas. The antennas are not visible from below and only come into sight about a mile from the peak.

Going back down is a slow process due to those steep sections and rocky terrain. When we arrived at the signed intersection of the Bull Pasture and Estes Canyon trails we turned right onto the Estes Canyon trail and returned to the trailhead this way. The relaxing return hike through Estes Canyon was very scenic. Some of the best cactus specimens were in this lushly vegetated canyon. Also there are some great views back up to the Peak of Mount Ajo.

Sun_Hiker and I did this one on a Thursday starting at 9:00 AM and finishing at 4:30 PM. We went very slowly on the downhill part and neither one of us fell. Also we stopped numerous times for picture taking, something I'm sure that most will want to do. There are plenty of photo opportunities here.

Mount Ajo is in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. We drove from Phoenix to the Visitor Center on Wednesday afternoon and stayed in Ajo Wednesday night. There are campgrounds near the visitor center as well as in town of Why and a few places to stay in Ajo, 33 miles from the visitor center. The National Park allows backcountry camping. Stop in the visitor center to get the appropriate permits. Alternatively you could leave Phoenix at 4:00 AM or so, do the hike and return home the same day, but that's a long, long day and I don't recommend it.

Stop in the visitor center located 33 miles past Ajo (22 miles past Why) on route 85 for a map and directions to the trailhead. There is an $8.00 charge unless you have a National Parks or Golden Age Pass.

Cautionary notes:
1. The hike is almost totally exposed. The peak season at Organ Pipe (from their website) is November 15 to April 15. To avoid excessive heat, I would do this one November 15 or later to March 15. Avoid this hike completely during the summer months since daytime highs can exceed 100 degrees. And it will feel a lot higher than that with no protection from the sun.
2. The first 1.5 miles on the Bull Pasture trail is good trail with a reasonable hiking grade. Then the use trail to the peak (not shown on the official map but adequately marked with rock cairns) becomes quite rocky with loose dirt and rocks and very steep in parts. This will slow your rate of progress significantly while hiking up to the peak and especially while coming back down.
3. This hike should never be attempted in the rain or when the trail is wet. If you find yourself there under these conditions you can do an alternative hike like the hike through Arch canyon up to the Arch. We went with a group to Organ Pipe in February 2005. It rained that day and we did exactly that.

-

    Directions Preferred Months Nov Dec Jan Feb
    Water / Source:None
    Preferred Start8 AM Sunrise6:39am Sunset5:51pm
    Road / VehicleFR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay
    Fees / Permit


    National Park
    $8 fee per car for a 7 day pass. Backpacking and backcountry camping is not allowed at this time due to an increase in illegal border activity.. Camping is available in the two designated campgrounds only.

    Directions
    Print Version
    To Estes Canyon Trailhead
    From Phoenix
    1. Take I-10 east until you reach the junction of Hwy 347 south to Maricopa AZ.
    2. Continue along Hwy 347 until it terminates at Hwy 84.
    3. Take Hwy 84 west until you join I-8 west towards Gila Bend AZ.
    4. When you reach Gila Bend, take Hwy 85 south towards Ajo AZ and the Mexican border.
    5. Continue on Hwy 85 passing through the towns of Ajo and Why before entering Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
    6. Obtain your day pass from the Visitor Center on the west side of Hwy 85, ~5 miles north of the Mexican Border.
    7. Take the Ajo Mountain Scenic Drive 11.4 miles to the Estes Canyon Picnic Area and Trailhead.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 159 mi - about 4 hours 0 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 154 mi - about 4 hours 12 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 288 mi - about 6 hours 0 mins
    Login for Mapped Driving Directions
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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