There's no banjo on top!
One of many pointy and prominent peaks in the rugged Kofa Mountains, Old Smokey is a non-technical ascent with some serious exposure on a narrow knife ridge to the summit.
This is an off-trail hike with no established route. The Kofa Mountains are remote and extreme. There is no water or shade and this peak should not be attempted in summer or by inexperienced hikers.
The hike begins at the end of the Kofa Queen Canyon road, at the signed wilderness boundary. The shortest route to the peak heads south from this point. You could stay in the drainage and climb to the saddle in front of you or climb the steep hill to the left of the drainage and drop down into the shallow valley on the other side. Though steeper, the hill is free of brush and easier to travel.
Once dropping into the basin, follow the main drainage to the south and follow it for about 0.75 miles and follow a wash that comes in from the left at about 33.346879 -114.045782. Stay on the slope above the drainage on the right, and climb toward the peak while traversing the steep slopes on Smokey's northeast side. When you reach the scree slope at 33.34238 -114.044625, head straight up toward the notch in the summit ridge. This ascent is very steep and very loose. Near the top you will find a few firmly planted steps on bedrock, but about 400 feet of the final ascent is a footing challenge!
Once on the ridge, head to the right toward the summit. The view to the west side reveals some awesome exposure and several hundred feet of drop to the valley below. Heading toward the summit, you will quickly encounter what looks like the summit block with a very challenging climb. This isn't it! Head around this to the right and approach the actual summit block next. Getting to the top requires what is otherwise an easy class 3 climb that will get in your head due to the 400 foot drop on the left of a 1 foot wide knife ridge with a more comfortable 20 foot drop on the right.
Once past the knife edge, the final 20 feet to the summit are a piece of cake and allow you to finally breathe easy and enjoy the views and sheer drop around you while contemplating the trip down!
From the end of Kofa Queen Canyon Road, hike up the old closed roadbed into the Wilderness for 1 mile until it drops into the wash at another road closed sign and wilderness boundary. Turn right and follow the wash upstream for about half a mile to a fork at 33.351533 -114.034291. Take the left wash and follow it about 1.25 miles to about 33.343516 -114.039864 where you should climb out of the wash to the left and follow the ridge straight up toward the peak visible in front of you. This route is about a mile longer, but offers easier terrain than the shorter route described above.
Either option can be traveled in either direction, or the two can be combined in a loop. The official route posted to this hike is a counter-clockwise loop and the statistics reflect that route. An out-n-back via the short route would be a mile shorter, and via the long route would be a mile longer than the posted stats.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This is a moderately difficult hike.
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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