register help

Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA, AZ

no permit
254 25 3
Guide 25 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Quartzsite S
4.4 of 5 by 8
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.49 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,841 feet
Elevation Gain 2,021 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,049 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.74
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
9  2018-03-29 Jim_H
15  2018-03-10
Signal TeN EWe
23  2017-03-25 Jim_H
4  2017-03-03
KOFA sampler
10  2016-12-10
Signal and Ten Ewe
7  2016-12-10
Signal and Ten Ewe
8  2016-12-10
Signal and Ten Ewe
23  2016-12-10
Signal and Ten Ewe
Page 1,  2,  3
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 74
Routes 667
Photos 13,162
Trips 1,416 map ( 10,534 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge USFWS
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:20am - 6:43pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Yuma County Highpoint
by chumley

This very steep off-trail route leads to the summit of Signal Peak, the highest peak in the Kofa Mountains, and the Yuma County highpoint. Despite the lack of trail, the route is well-traveled and relatively easy to follow. The grade is challenging, especially on the descent when sections with loose dirt and gravel makes firm footing difficult. The views over the rugged Kofa range and surrounding valleys are well worth the effort.

The Kofas are a brutal environment. Most of the year it is very hot and dry. There is virtually no shade, and there's no water anywhere near this hike. Winter can be very cold and windy. Weather conditions are key to making this an enjoyable hike. Check the forecast before you go!

Hike Details
The hike begins at the mouth of Ten Ewe Canyon along a high-clearance dirt road in Kofa Queen Canyon. There are a couple of metal stakes in the ground and a small campsite in the wash, but otherwise the "trailhead" is not obvious. I highly recommend using Davis2001r6's GPS driving route to help you navigate there.

Begin the hike by heading up the wash in Ten Ewe Canyon. There may or may not be cairns along the way, but it doesn't really matter at this point. For perspective as you look up canyon, there's a large cave and dryfall in the cliff face ahead of you and the route will ascend to the left of that but below and to the right of Ten Ewe. After about 0.3 miles in the wash, the route begins to follow the shelf on the left side of the wash. There is not a well-marked exit to the wash, and there are several routes near the bottom, but they all seem to come together quickly and quickly goes parabolic straight up the ridge, climbing ever steeper, directly up to the base of the cliff at 0.6 miles. Here the route turns right and proceeds to a sandy break spot with great views of the dryfall in Indian Canyon on your right at .70 miles.

The route continues to ascend the left slope of the canyon. Some sections are very steep, there's some loose footing, and a couple of short, easy scrambles, where you'll need to use your hands. At .90 miles you reach the top of this section and a saddle that looks over a small basin. From here you will traverse around the left side of the basin, dropping a few feet in elevation as you pass through a small shaded drainage at the 1.0 mile mark. The ascent continues dropping in and out of the Indian Canyon drainage which offers some areas of solid granite footing and easy scrambles.

At 1.3 miles the route veers to the right, following the obvious drainage, keeping below a large alcove that could be used for shelter if needed. After getting above the outcropping with the alcove, at 1.45 miles, the route veers left again, climbing a more moderate drainage with loose rock and desert flora before reaching a ridge at 1.6 miles. From here you can see the summit as well as a small communications array on a sub-peak about 300 yards south of the summit. The last .15 miles traverses below a secondary peak before arriving at the true summit which features the "Kofa 2" benchmark, and a cemented ammo can register a short distance away.

The views in all directions are phenomenal with near-vertical descents to the north and west into Palm Canyon and Four Palms Canyon as well as the views to the southwest over Ten Ewe, Old Smokey, Squaw Peak, and the unnamed Kofa spire next to the nondescript Summit Peak.

Return the way you came, or consider a side trip to Ten Ewe if you are a little bit more adventurous!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2016-04-11 chumley
    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.

    Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Short on options and time, I settled in at a camp just up the road from last year's site, to hike this the next day. Nice views of Castle Dome at sunset from my spot. I then parked just out of the canyon/ wash at a spot I hiked to last year, adding in the same road stats of 5 mile and 600' AEG. Somehow, I found the road to be in excellent shape, way better than anything else out here, and improved from last year. No large boulders, and I could have and should have driven up except for the added excercise, which I liked and wanted.

    Much nicer this year, but time strapped. Warm, pleasant, and not windy. Skipped 10 Ewe, but that wasn't so great. Had a good time. This wasn't on my radar, but I was able to warm up for it, and was really happy I hiked it, as it sure is neat to observe from lots of places, including miles and miles away on I-8 just west of Gila Bend.
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Signal TeN EWe
    I had an in town commitment that required me to choose a short hike. This pair is always a winner.

    My plan was to explore a potential NEW ascent route of Ten Ewe from the "ramp" that climbs the southwest face. I'd read online somewhere that somebody had gone that way before and I'd never really considered it. The satellite photo makes it look like you could drive your Jeep up it if you had good enough tires. But photos can be deceiving.

    Approaching it, I was pretty leery as the slope looked very narrow and steeply angled to the very exposed abyss below. Once there though, I was able to find a reasonably safe route with minimal light climbing and not much brush. This approach is much more scenic than the chute on the north side and I'd recommend this route be part of a lasso loop to the peak for anybody hitting this one in the future.

    I also established that traveling between Ten Ewe and Summit Peak would be possible, which might make for a fun day sometime.

    The weather was a treat. It rained all day, and I enjoyed seeing this range under a cloud of gray and rain. Three times the rain came down heavy enough that I ducked into a cave for a few minutes to wait it out. It didn't seem cold, but it was only 55 at my truck when I finished, so it might have been in the upper 40s up top. There was a nice breeze to go along with the stinging drizzle.

    Of course, it makes no sense to be that close to a county high point and not actually hit it, so I made sure to bag Signal Peak too. 😉

    A fantastic day all around!
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I drove out Friday and camped to give myself more time for this hike, and that was a smart choice given how long the drive takes. I probably could have made it all the way to the TH, but meeting a vehicle going down wash I opted to back up and park in a side spot to let them pass. I then decided that since I might be able to hike as fast as I could drive, and there were some large boulder in the next stretch, I would just park and walk. I was 1.5 miles from the TH according to Todd's mileage in the directions, and my car odometer. After the next section it was really smooth, but I liked the walk. Lots of poppies, too.

    Maybe I was tired, or who knows what, but I was surprised that walking down wash I somehow chose the wrong two-track, which seemed impossible, but I ended up going a mile down wash from my car (per my odometer driving out) before I realized I was way past my parking area. I turned back, and found my car easier going up canyon. This error, when added to Ten Ewe's additional stats gives me 5 miles more and 600 additional feet. Except that brush in the wash hid my car, I couldn't believe I did that.

    The hike is pretty enjoyable with a well worn trail right now, all the way to the summit of Signal. Clearly, the county high point status must draw them out. No one seems to do Ten Ewe, as that was rougher and there was no obvious trail. I made a nice large cairn in the gully below the tight squeeze. Views were not as good as last time on Castle Dome, low level haze from the breeze may have been to blame. It was cooler or cold, too. Only in the mid-70s in the canyon, so colder on top. Unlike on CD, there was a stiff breeze, too.

    This hike feels far different than Castle Dome. I felt like I was in the western Superstitions, but with fewer people. The canyon live oaks in the upper canyon add a feel that is not western desert, in mind. Also, I saw a lot of people camping out here, some ATVers in the canyon, and 2 people coming down from the summit. The massif is really impressive coming in from the north, and it photographs well. However, I think Todd's group hikes account for the greater number of logs for this hike, compared to Castle Dome.

    So far, given my December trip, my last trip, and this one, I confirmed that I like the KofA best when hotter, as in the low 90s. Fewer people, and more pleasant for me.

    Poppies and lupines, and lots of colors with no crowds!
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    KOFA sampler
    Started with an early morning ascent of excellent Castle Dome Peak on a very well-cairned and established route that's better than a lot of official trails I've been on, with some fun scrambling and 3rd class near the top. Then Palm Canyon, short and interesting. Then Signal Peak, another good climb to a big summit, also follows a well-established route.

    Visited Castle Dome Mining Museum the previous day, its well worth the $10 and a couple of hours.
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Signal and Ten Ewe
    Chumley organized this trip and I was along for the ride. This is my first visit to the KOFA Mountains and I was impressed. The mountains rise up similar to the western Supes over Apache Junction. They are stunning as you drive into the mountains. The first few miles of road are in excellent condition but the road deteriorates as you drive back. High clearance is a must.

    We parked at the unsigned trailhead and the six of us started the hike in. The first mile is easy going as you walk up the wash and then start gaining elevation. The climb gets steep and loose as you progress and the summit comes into view from one of the saddles. We continued on and topped out on the summit and enjoyed the views.

    From there we dropped down a bit and then headed over for Ten Ewe. Chumley, LP & JJ opted for a challenging route while Tortoise, Dave1 and myself climbed up a chute with a squeeze near the top. Once above the squeeze it’s pretty much straight up although we zigzagged back and forth to avoid any exposure. All of us topped out and enjoyed the views. I headed down first and worked my way back down the route I came up. It was nice taking my time as I retraced my route down. All of us regrouped at a saddle below the chute and then blew down the mountain.

    Once back at the vehicles we took a break and then drove over to our next hike of the day in Palm Canyon. I really enjoyed the Signal Peak hike. It’s very straightforward and good fun. Ten Ewe was another fun adventure and I’m glad we spent the time hitting that summit too! Thanks Chumley for organizing and driving!
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Signal and Ten Ewe
    I had told Denny I would take him up Signal Peak in the Kofas as he pursues the AZ county highpoints. This is prime season to be in the Kofa, and I hadn't been since spring so it was nice to get back. We recruited Dave and three Johns to joins us on the day. Good thing everybody has a workable nickname. Specifying JJ9LP is much easier than everybody responding to "John" :)

    We were at the trailhead in about 2:55, including a 15-minute morning breakfast stop, and on the trail by 9. We could have left a couple hours later since for some reason we made it a point of trying to keep up with JJ. :app:

    County highpoint reached by 10:15. Spotted a lone ewe on a prominent point on our way to the southern viewpoint before heading over to Ten Ewe. JJLP and I took the upper chute and I was relieved to find it wasn't as much of a challenge as last time when I turned back and took the lower chute. I really like the high route better, but you have to get past a short climb where your best holds are very loose rocks. The slope up after that is fun.

    After a short break at the summit we headed back down. It's steep, and we were back at the TH in no time. This is one of those hikes I can do a couple of times a season. It was great to hike with Denny for the first time in a long while ... and everybody else too I guess. :)
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    @Tortoise_Hiker motivated me to catch up on my county high point's list with his recent summit of Harquahala, so I headed the same direction, but a little further west to Yuma County and the Kofas.

    I knew Chumley had an affinity for this area, but I had always remained a little skeptical at how much I would enjoy the area. From the start this skepticism proved to be unwarranted, as it did not take long to fall in love with this quaint desert range and its craggy terrain. Someone thought it was a good idea to have a family reunion at the trailhead, so I had to park a few hundred feet up the road past the TH. I also had to delay my start time by 20 minutes because my phone had came unplugged on the bumpy road and sucked my battery dry with google maps running and frequent checks of route scout on the way in. Normally, I would have just left, but I had all of my routes on the cell for this hike. No worries though, once it hit 50% I was gone and I decided that instead of using RS to track, I would use my regular GPS sans downloaded route and screen shots of description, or quick route previews in RS if needed.

    After finally getting to start, Signal Peak ended up going a little quicker than I thought. Chums wrote a good description and the route to the peak resembled more of a trail than an off trail route in many spots. I ended up only needing to check the route a few times on my phone and did not use much of my cell battery on the way up,so I decided to make it a double and added in Ten Ewe on the way down. I had downloaded the route the night before and thought it would be a good option if Signal went well.

    Ten Ewe ended up being the highlight of the day/hike for me. Ten Ewe takes a little more scrambling and there are a couple of class three spots, but the peak offers a better view in my opinion and cooler summit in general. The route is also more fun in comparison to the steep, loose trail to Signal. After taking in the views from Ten Ewe, I headed back down the way I came and was back on the established trail shortly after. From there, its just a quick, knee jarring jaunt to the wash and road.

    A great first visit to the Kofas, I am already pining for another trip!
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Signal Ten Ewe
    Another great trip to Signal and Ten Ewe. Not much to say more than I've said before. I really think Ten Ewe is the gem here, but both are worthwhile and should really be done together.

    As anybody who has read my posts before might know, I like weather. Not the babe on TV in front of the green screen, but actual stuff that happens in the atmosphere. After a few months of nothing happening, I wanted to take advantage of this rare opportunity and go somewhere cool. I figured the Kofas would provide a good chance to see clouds and rain in a spectacular setting. We hoped for a little more color at sunset, but stuff like this is hit or miss!

    It was great to visit here in April and enjoy cool temperatures in the 50s and 60s. A very rare treat indeed! I thought my visit a few weeks ago would be the last until fall. Now I wonder if there's a chance for one more? Maybe if there's some weather...
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Though we did Signal and Ten Ewe in the same hike, I'm splitting them up. Check out my triplog for Ten Ewe if that interests you, or if you'd consider doing them both together as we did.

    Starting from the campsite at the junction of Ten Ewe Canyon and the road, we began the hike up canyon. After about 0.3 miles, we spotted cairns that indicate a route that leaves the wash on the left side. From there to about .65 miles, we climbed the gentle ascent up between the two drainages, Ten Ewe on the left, and Indian on the right, before reaching a rock outcropping that the route goes to the right of, before coming to a clear sandy viewpoint overlooking Indian Canyon to the right at about .7 miles.

    From here you might think that the route drops into the drainage, but no, it continues a solid ascent up the left side, parallel to, but above, the canyon itself. At .9 miles, the route reaches a saddle of sorts, where you are exposed to a mini "inner basin". Here the route stays left, but descends slightly, the first respite from the relentless climb so far. At the 1-mile mark, the route crosses the Indian Canyon drainage by passing through a dense, shaded "tunnel" of trees and other flora.

    The next .2 miles (1.2 miles total) generally follows the canyon upwards to the west, before turning to the northwest at a junction of drainages, climbing an additional .3 miles (1.5 miles total) up an exposed rock drainage with a cave/overhang above on the left. From here, the route is easy to follow through upper reaches of the mountain with rocky footing and typical desert flora.

    At the 1.6 mile mark, you reach another saddle, opening views to the south and exposing the summit of Signal Peak for the first time. The peak visible above to the immediate right is a few feet below the true summit, so the route passes below it to the 1.7 mile mark and the saddle between the two peaks, introducing the first views to the west into Palm Canyon and the La Posa Plain below. An additional short climb gets you to the true peak at 1.75 miles.

    A summit register exists in a cemented spot in a small sheltered alcove about 100 feet northeast of the summit benchmark. The views here are spectacular, and worth every bit of effort it took to gain this summit. Enjoy it. Have a snack and take it all in!

    On this trip, Bob and I reached the summit in about 100 minutes, and then enjoyed a summit beer and some lunch before heading to the south a quarter mile to the adjacent peak and views, before checking out the peak to the east of the summit that appears higher from all spots except when you are on that peak itself!

    It was a little hazy on the day we were there, but I was surprised to later discover that views included the Harquahalas, Big Horn, Saddle Mtn, Eagletails, and Woolsey, about 60-70 miles away. On a clearer day, the Sierra Estrella (110 mi) would be in view looking back to the east, and I've heard others have spotted the Santa Rosas and San Jacintos, 130+ miles to the west on the clearest of days.

    Return the way you came, or make it more of an adventure by hitting up Ten Ewe, Signal's next door neighbor. :)

    While Signal is an off-trail summit, there is a fairly well-established route and no exposure or real scrambling. Ten Ewe is a different animal, so if class 3 and some exposure aren't your thing, you probably will want to stick with just Signal.

    (Note: Mileage and time posted are for the ascent, breaks, and side trips only.)
    Signal Peak 4877 - KOFA
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    2nd favorite non-technical peak in the KOFA after Castle Dome. Maybe the best for views. Top of the world views to the SE over some of the most rugged terrain in southern Arizona.

    A full day hike- light class 3 scrambling. Ginger the dog summited without harness. Basic route finding if you pay attention- unlike us. No really exposed scrambling.

    Drove in on KOFA Queen wash. Later, we ended up camping at the very end of this road for 3 days and never saw anyone. The road was high clearance 4WD, but I think a good driver with good clearance is more than a match for it. The trail head sneaks up on your right and you have to look back and to the right to see 2 metal fence stakes about 3 feet apart that mark the start of the trail. Also, look for the huge valley on the right that the trail leads up into as it is easy to spot.

    Trail was dispersed in spots, but you basically know where you are headed, so if you lose it look around. We followed the topo route and used large topographic features and summited without issue. Coming down we got lost-ish. What can I say? We enjoyed being lost-ish. Like, half hour lost(ish). We looked down a feature-length ravine that lead out to the south and east with the Signal Peak massif towering overhead. We told ourselves it was worth the detour.

    As for the summit, wow! Looking out over a humbling and panaramic vista, we could see maybe twenty beckoning peaks many of which look to be verrrry technical. Rugged and remote.
    Brief lunch on top, then back to the camper. We did not get cell service on top with Sprint.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Quartzsite drive south on US 95 for 19 miles to Palm Canyon Road. (From Yuma it's about 50 miles north on US 95). Follow Palm Canyon Road 3.3 miles to the entrance kiosk for the Kofa NWR. Turn left onto Queen Canyon Road and follow it 7.4 miles to the mouth of Ten Ewe Canyon, which is unmarked.
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it hard
    help comment issue

    end of page marker