register help

Mohawk Mountain, AZ

100 7 0
Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Ajo
3.3 of 5 by 3
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 640 feet
Elevation Gain 2,067 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,158 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.39
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2018-04-21 Jim_H
8  2013-04-20 desert_boonie
20  2013-03-09 desert_boonie
30  2011-01-08
Barry Goldwater/Cabeza Prieta
27  2010-03-15 easternewbie
Author easternewbie
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 27
Trips 12 map ( 65 miles )
Age 32 Male Gender
Location Aurora, CO (and sometimes Mesa)
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:23am - 6:32pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Borderline Technical
by easternewbie

This is an incredibly remote, rugged, and challenging range highpoint on the Barry M. Goldwater Range. It's also one of 73 summits in Arizona with over 2,000' of prominence; in fact, it's the lowest peak on this list, but that assuredly does not make it the easiest! Though getting to the top is difficult, the experience is rewarding, and you will get to see a part of the state that very few individuals ever will.

The Mohawk Mountains, like much of this part of the state south of I-8, is on the Barry M. Goldwater Range. A permit is required to access the BMGR/Cabeza Prieta complex, but it is free and easy to obtain. This is a bombing range--your hike will be punctuated by the occasional distant sonic boom--but the range is not in an active bombing area. Even so, on the off chance you should encounter any unexploded ordnance, don't touch it.

This area is incredibly remote, and if you should become seriously injured, you're pretty much on your own. Do not attempt this "hike" unless you have abundant experience with rugged, off-trail routes. Do not come here alone, and leave detailed plans of your trip with friends/family. Bring plenty of water, and know how to get your vehicle out of a tight spot. Definitely do not come here in summer!

Lastly, this corner of Arizona is well-known for illegal border crossers. It would be unwise to leave a vehicle in plain sight on a road (though you should be okay at this trailhead), or leave valuables in your vehicle. You'll probably encounter border patrol at some point--just show them your permits and you should be fine.

From where you parked, aim for the initially wide and prominent drainage basin leading almost directly toward the summit. Your aim is a 2250' saddle. You may choose to either stay in the bottom of a wash (which eventually leads through a rather neat small canyon, or to stay left and make the easy traverse above the wash for a ways. Either will work. Eventually, the wash and traverse routes rejoin, and you can simply rock-hop your way up the drainage as you moderately gain elevation. Aside from bits of brush here and there, this part is easy.

Ahead of you, there is a large reddish-black tongue of rock that appears to be blocking the way. However, it can be circumvented on the left by going through a patch of slightly heavier brush. Beyond this is perhaps the crux of the route: at around 1550', the drainage splits. Do NOT attempt the branch on climber's left--it initially looks easier, and can be ascended a ways, but you'll ultimately find yourself cliffed out. Instead, examine the gully system on climber's right. There is a 30' tall waterfall, nearly vertical, and with probable good handholds. However, it's 4th/low 5th class, and unless you're very comfortable with such terrain or have ropes, I don't suggest you try it. Instead, ascend the nasty, class 2/3, steep scree slopes to the right of this waterfall for perhaps 250'. This is a nasty bit, with plenty of brush and stabby plants and untrustworthy rocks. Don't trust your handholds here! Continuing uphill you'll eventually get "squeezed" into a spot with a rock slab on your right and no real way to continue upward. Here, double back and descend 50' or so back into the drainage, which is again easily passable for a ways. Remember where you rejoined the drainage here, because on the way down you'll need to leave again at this spot. If you keep descending the drainage past here, you'll find yourself atop that 30' waterfall!

From here, ascend the remaining 400-500' to the obvious saddle, really more of a notch in the ridge. Near the top it steepens again, but not as badly as before. Catch your breath, and enjoy the view! You're at the edge of another drainage bowl, this one pretty tame by Mohawk Range standards. Saddle 2590' is pretty much straight ahead and is the last fairly gentle notch in the ridge; to the right of that saddle is the rocky summit. Now aim for saddle 2590' by means of traversing and/or descending the drainage bowl, and ascend the opposite drainage to the 2590' saddle. This part is relatively easy and you should be able to figure it out. At this second saddle, spectacular views open up to the east. You're now only a tenth of a mile and 200' below the top--but now it gets tricky again!

The final ridge is very rocky, knife-edged, and (at least when I was there) ferociously windy. And the closer to the summit you get, the more the slopes to climber's left turn into sheer cliffs. Be careful here. Staying directly on the ridge crest would probably be borderline technical climbing in spots, but the good news is that you can usually bypass it on climber's right on class 2 rocks and slopes. So finally, you're at the summit block, which is almost entirely ringed by impenetrable cliffs at this point. There's only one way up, and it's a doozy. Okay, it's not that bad--class 1/2 at worst--but if you fall, you die. There is a flat, even ledge that's about two feet wide, a dozen feet long. It has a bit of loose rock underfoot, and one palo verde tree growing out of the rock on your right (it's both a help and a hindrance). There's a sheer, several-hundred-foot dropoff to your left. Walk out to the tree, take a deep breath, and swing yourself to the other side. Or alternatively, clamber over the trunk of the tree for a slightly less exposed move. I did both. From here, (carefully) make your way up the last dozen feet and top out! Admire the stunning views of this most remote part of Arizona. Sign the register, if there is one; I didn't have time to look, unfortunately.

When you're ready, return the way you came. The crux back in the first drainage requires care, and in my case, lots of slow scooting down on my butt. Don't wear pants you care about!

Water Sources
Unless there has been a recent rain, don't count on any. This is one of the hottest, driest parts of Arizona.

Camping is allowed in the BMGR. There are a multitude of good spots to camp near the parking area, though none are likely to have water.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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

2010-03-16 easternewbie
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Mohawk Mountain
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    Coming in from the south I spotted 6 to 8 pronghorn. Awesome! I wish I skipped this early on after realizing I didn't care for the boulders in the bottom, and instead I should have spent some time hiking the dunes.

    Driving out the clouds and views were lovely. I won't be back for this mountain, but I sill like the views of the range. I found this and the SP description inadequate for the gully and when unfamiliar, having no gps, as well as when time limited and it being warmer than ideal for black rock. The slopes were rough and unpleasant, and after inspecting summit pictures, I am OK to skip this.
    Mohawk Mountain
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Was lucky to have the opportunity to get up this mountain again and to meet another great HAZ hiker John. After a few exchanged messages we were able to set this trek up and he was kind enough to agree to do another peak in the range I wasn't able to do last time I was down there with me. That traverse to peak 2551' put to most spice in the trek for us but it was well worth it. After seeing John attract the most cholla barbs to anyone I have ever seen I thought I was going to get away from them for the day, figures on the way out I get a nice thick one stuck in my calf. I couldn't help but let out some words people shouldn't hear. :) Great day again down south, and John was looking over another trek in that range for us to do when temps cool off, I like his style.
    Mohawk Mountain
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Another trip down south, another great time spent in the AZ desert. With weekend weather cooling off again it was time to hit this area up before the heat comes in and makes it not as enjoyable. Off from the valley before the sun was up I was making good time on the less traveled highways to get to this area. About 15 miles west of Gila Bend the sunrise came, and I went over a hill and the Mohawk Mountain range was in sight. The early morning light on them and the surrounding mountains really told me I was in for a good day.

    I get to mile marker 48 and was able to cross the highway there and go through the gate to start the sandy road traverse to where I wanted to park. I called in my permit, tried to get my things together there so I wouldn't waste time at the trailhead (meaning where I park for the day)and got going towards the mountain. Just looking up at this range was pretty breath taking, for a range that tops out just over 2700' she looks like a massive girl that should be double that number. I find my opening in the mountain I wanted to traverse, find the rock path with faint tire marks on it and get myself as close to the mountain as I can.

    The hike starts and I enter the wash that is virtually the golden road up this mountain to the saddle. I was hoping to see some pools of water but no such luck, she was pretty dry even with recent rain in the area. The rock formation leading up this mountain is pretty spectacular, she is pretty solid on the lower half and then as you go up she becomes a bit crumbly which could damper your day if you decide to make a good scramble in certain sections that look tempting.

    I made great time getting up and was on the saddle in just over an hour. From here the views are incredible, you get your first look at the SE range and I was just in awe with the rugged country and peaks in front of me now. I look up at the summit traverse and also start to drool, I know right away this is going to be fun. She quickly becomes exposed and you can really have some fun on this short ridge traverse to the summit as long as you check the holds in the rock because half of it wants to come out at the simplest touch. I come up over a jagged rock and see the towers on the summit a hundred feet away. I was almost disappointed that the traverse was over and I was on the summit already. But the views from up to will satisfy almost anyone who goes up there.

    The wind was whipping pretty good on top so I got my jacket on, pulled out my lunch and summit brew and tried to avoid the wind by dropping down below the solar panels taking in the views to the south and looking over at future treks. While enjoying my brew, I looked over at peak 2551' just to the NE of Mohawk and had planned on getting up her today as well. With the 700' drop and my still sore big toe from last weekends hike it didn't look as appealing to me anymore. So while looking over at the Mohawk Dunes just to the west I had a better idea of getting down and then checking out a section in the dunes and do some soothing barefoot hiking.

    As I get everything together on the summit and plan to start heading down I see a helicopter nearby coming close to the mountain. So I did what anyone would do, I went over to the summit helipad and stuck my thumb out trying to get a ride down. They didn't come close enough to see me so I had to hike down. Again I made good time going down and with the dunes in front of me the entire time I couldn't wait to check them out. I got back to the Jeep, downed some nice cold Gatorade and drove on over as close as I could get to the dunes.

    Had to do about a 25 minute hike across the sandy desert floor, sinking in the ground to my ankles several times before actually reaching the dune hills. Once I reached the hills it was time to take my shoes off and go barefoot in the sand. WOW, what a great feeling, it brought back memories of a few weeks ago when I was actually walking on sandy beaches. I took in the views, enjoyed the nice cool sand between my toes which made me forget about my sore big toe and turning black toenail. I laid down against my pack looking back at Mohawk and the hike I had just done and couldn't have asked for anything more in life. With the light breeze setting off a cooling effect in the sun I was able to take a nice 20 minute nap in the sand. After looking at the time I knew it was time to end to peaceful day and head back home.

    On the way out I was stopped by border patrol just doing their routine checking of who was in the area and why. Again I got a weird look on someones face when I told them I was out here hiking. He let me be on my way and it was off to Dateland for a nice cold shake and replenishing fresh dates for the rest of the drive back home.

    Another beautiful isolated hike in southern AZ, cannot beat that.
    Mohawk Mountain
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Came back for another climb up this bad boy with Scott Kelley. Not much new to report, though the ascent was more enjoyable with company! Great views from the top, less hazy than last time if my memory serves me. Perfect hiking weather.

    As a sidenote: Scott tried the 30' waterfall and reported its upper reaches to have rather loose rock. It's probably best avoided.

    We went on to climb the highpoint of the Sierra Pinta the next day, which makes this one feel like Camelback in comparison!
    Mohawk Mountain
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This is basically a more steep, more rugged version of "nearby" Sheep Mountain. I went with Scott Surgent, and we made it about halfway up before coming to the gully split; I went ahead on the L fork and found it to dead-end, then found the R fork to be a royal pain to get up. So did Scott, and he decided to call it a day there while I went ahead alone to the top.

    If you have the equipment and the knowledge to use it, the 30' rock waterfall might actually be an easier alternative to the nasty loose scree to the R of it. If you can surmount/safely descend this waterfall, all that remains in your way are one or two easy class 3 waterfalls just above.

    Beautiful part of the state, especially with all the greenery from our wet winter. Nice views of the Kofas, Castle Dome, and the band of dunes paralleling the approach road from the summit!

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    Get onto I-8 from your major city of choice. Get to Tacna, about an hour's drive west of Gila Bend, and exit to head eastbound on I-8. Just past the 48-mile marker, there is a road turnoff to the right with an unlocked gate. Follow this rough road south a mile to an obvious crossroads, turn left. Follow the main track, a wide, generally good sandy road, generally east a few miles until it ends at a junction. Turn right and follow a similar road for about half a mile to a four-way intersection, turn right. In just under 0.5 miles, you should see a faint road off to the right, with a gate and sign a short distance beyond; turn here. Follow this generally good two-track for approximately 8 miles until it meets Mohawk-Papago Wells Rd at marker post G1W. Turn right, continue for approximately 0.6 miles until some prominent tire tracks can be seen to the left. Follow these in to near the base of the wash, traveling over surprisingly good terrain. Park where you please.
    page created by easternewbie on Mar 16 2010 12:28 pm
    help comment issue

    end of page marker