I travel to New Mexico quite often for business and when I do I take I-10 to Las Cruces and then up to Hatch. Along the way I pass the Dos Cabezas Mountain Range between Willcox and Bowie. Every time I look over I think to myself how cool the "two heads" look and how cool it would be to summit them. They tower over everything in the immediate area and are very unique in their formation.
Doing a little research revealed that there are some access issues going up the dirt road from the town of Dos Cabezas. I believe with a little effort and persistence you should be able to get the key to open the gates. If you are successful however you would need a 4x4 or at the very least a good high clearance vehicle to make it up the hill. With that being said I decided to take another approach. I had heard that the land is managed by the BLM and that there is a picnic area on the Eastern side of the range. I spent a little time with the topo maps on HAZ and figured I would give it a go.
There isn't a trail from that side that takes you to the two heads. There is however a patchwork of various game trails and old jeep tracks that make the travel a little easier at times. These trails seem to come and go and it is good to just use them when available. I found it best not to spend too much time trying to follow them as they eventually just fade away. Along the way I saw an old cabin, an old car, a couple wells and a bunch of old relics all working their way back into the earth.
I had printed out my maps and along the way looked for land marks to guide my way. For the bulk of the trip you can't see the heads as they are behind the range. I used Copper Peak as my main target to stay on track. When I was making my way past it I couldn't resist the urge to go up and summit while there. Government Peak marks the Eastern end, Copper Peak is in the middle and then the "Dos Cabezas" are on the Western end of the range. Once at Copper Peak the two heads were just as clear as day but still looked a good distance away. The good news here is that it isn't far down to the road that goes to the communication towers. This would be a welcome way to travel towards the peaks.
From here I simply followed the road until it branched off and headed up toward the base of the peaks. Once in between the two I went straight up and found the shovel head that others have spoke of. This was the confirmation I was in the right place for the final ascent. All I could think of was wow I made it but the day is really getting away from me. Up the North Peak I went and looked at the time. It was now 4 O'clock. I had started at 10:30. It's going to be dark in 2 hours! I can't stay long I think to myself even though I have a head lamp in my bag. After all there really isn't a trail and I am in unfamiliar territory. I decided to save the South Peak for another day. I plan on coming back and doing this a few more times to try and perfect the route in from that side. My best guess is that it is about an eight mile trek in from the east if you catch a clean line and don't have to back track much.
Knowing that I was going to be facing dark soon, I made a judgment call to drop down the South West side into the small town of Dos Cabezas. I would be miles away from my car but there is a road all the way down and it was a safe bet. If I had just one more hour of daylight I would have headed back the way I came for sure.
It took 5.5 hours to get up but I spent time at the cabin, taking pictures, and making sure I was making mental notes of my route. In the future I am sure the trip in would be more like 4 hours and the trip out around 3. Add in an hour for time with the two peaks and all should be good.
Based on the time it took me to reach Highway 186 I believe the way down to the road was around 5 or 6 miles. There wasn't really any good way to get to my car at this point so I started walking down the road towards Willcox. It is 14 miles from Dos Cabezas. My hope was to catch a ride from a passerby. Unfortunately, there was only one car that went by and they didn't stop. After a little more than four miles a car went by the other way and then flipped around and headed for me. Turns out it was DPS and when they saw me with my headlamp they wondered what I was doing out there. I explained my situation and they offered to give me a lift.
I stayed the night in Willcox and then hitched a ride in the morning. Man, it was great to get back to my car. Clean shirt, clean socks and no more thumbing it!
This was quite the adventure to say the least! I am looking forward to doing it again sometime soon, but as a normal out and back.
As a side note: there is a guy who owns 240 acres on the eastern side of the range. His property has a locked gate that says "JJ" on it. His name is Jerry and his wife's name is Judy, hence the "JJ". You don't have to worry about him giving you any trouble out there as he is one of the nicest people I have ever met.