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Sunset Pass - Harquahala, AZ

no permit
16 1 0
Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Parker
1 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 12.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,965 feet
Elevation Gain 1,900 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,500 feet
Avg Time One Way 10 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.83
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
12  2013-03-07 kingsnake
4  2013-03-07 gummo
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 7 AM
Sun  6:18am - 6:37pm
0 Alternative
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Hey Rocky, watch me pull some rocks out of my hat!
by kingsnake

Sunset Pass is the 3884-foot pass between, to the west, Harquahala Mountain (5681 feet) and the Hill 5026 ridgeline, to the east. One would think that something labelled "pass" would have some sort of wagon-friendly, or at least horse-friendly, route for the hardy pioneer types to travel through in days gone past. If so, one would be wildly optimistic. Yes, there are 3+ mile jeep trails at either end, but the middle six miles are a whole different ball of burro poo.

South Half
Brown's Canyon Saddle, travels a similar route, five miles east, also with the middle third being wash / off-trail. However, the washes in Brown's are much more scenic, whereas here in Sunset they are just plain hard work. You are faced with a choice of beating across cactus and prickler-choked wash-crossed hillsides, or laboriously step-watching up rock-strewn Sunset Canyon itself. Long sleeves and pants, preferably of heavier material, recommended. Also, stiff shoes to negate effects of ankle-rolling. Otherwise, you will bleed. Guaranteed. Also, a week ago in Brown's there was lots of pools; this week in Sunset there was no water of any sort. As Sunset is much harder work than Brown's, bring extra water, even in cooler months. Then, having beaten your way up Sunset Canyon, you are faced with the south wall of Sunset Pass: 700 feet in .6 miles. Not high, but steep, and after exhausting yourself on the way there.

North Half
TBD. The wash-walking is shorter and not as steep: If approached from the north, about 1000 AEG in 1.6 miles. This might be a better approach, but Gummo and I did not make it this far, so cannot say for sure.

Check out the Triplog.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2013-03-09 kingsnake

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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 Review
    Sunset Pass - Harquahala
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    Met up with gummo at the foot of FR 9303 at 0800. Gummo was wearing an ankle brace and shorts: One would turn out to be a wise decision, the other not. Started up the 4x4 only jeep trail.

    After a couple of miles, right by the first warning sign, diverted west towards USLM 1142, which the topo shows as having a triangle, which usually seems to indicate an actual physical marker. There was a wood post, but we could not find a marker despite about 15 minutes of searching. There was cattle, though, and a view of the ranch which had posted the signs.

    Back on the jeep trail, we passed several abandoned vehicles and various mining equipment. There's a lot of mine shafts north of the ranch. Just before the jeep trail turns west up a steep slope, it crosses the Sunset Canyon wash. We continued a few hundred yards past the wash, a bit up the trail, then dropped into the wash.

    From there, the next several miles were constant rock-stepping. :oplz: The only "relief" was to try following the odd 100-yard cattle path through thick pricklers. (By the time we reached the foot of the pass, gummo's calf looked like someone had run a razor up it.) Eventually, we grew tired of the rocks, deciding instead to try bushwhacking north across the runoff washes on Sunset Canyon's east slope. That was worse. Basically, Sunset Canyon is Evil Kirk :x to lower Brown's Canyon's Good Kirk. :A1:

    By the time we arrived at the foot of the pass, I was physically spent to the point of walking a hundred yards, taking a break, repeat, etc. :sweat: We were 7 miles into the hike, with over 6 miles ahead of us -- at least 2 miles of that off trail, and over 700 AEG. I had figured that if Brown's had taken seven hours (five walking), then Sunset would take six and eight. We were already six and a half total hours into the hike. Water was also becomming an issue, as even though I brought more than for Brown's Canyon, I was still going through it quicker than I expected. (Perhaps because I had a small fever on Monday and Tuesday, or it was warmer than last week, or it was a much harder hike than Brown's, or a combination of all three.) After some discussion, we decided it would be smarter to head back south, than continue north, probably making a deteriorating situation worse.

    On the way back, we stuck strictly to the main wash. By mid-afternoon, some clouds had come in, and a breeze had picked up, and it was a god-send. I felt refreshed. Gummo even commented to me that I had picked up a few steps. Just before we reached the jeep trail, gummo tweaked his injured ankle, so rather than booking it back to his car, we walked a bit slower. Along the way, I tried calling my wife, but with only 1 verizon bar, could not connect. :pray: Amazingly, I was able to get a text from her, and so let her know that 1) we were alright, and that 2) could she please meet us where we started, rather than our intended destination on Hwy 60. We got back to gummo's car at 5:45 pm, almost 10 hours after we started.

    Unfortunately, gummo never did find any snakes, so I did not get to watch the Snake Whisperer in action. :doh:

    After my wife arrived, we split up. On the way back to Phoenix, I drank three V-8s, two waters, a Gatorade and a large diet cherry Pepsi. We actually had to stop about five miles west of Wickenburg to switch drivers, as I had started to cramp too severely to drive. :stretch: Got home at 8pm, and peed for the first time in 12 hours. :y:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    North on I-17. West on Carefree Hwy. North on Hwy 60 to Wickenburg, continuing west on Hwy 60 to Aguila. South on Eagle Eye Rd, 15.5 miles, just past second Tiger Wash crossing, to FR 9303.
    page created by kingsnake on Mar 09 2013 7:53 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
    help comment issue

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