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Council Rocks, AZ
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Overview: The Dragoon Mountains are mainly known for the famed Chiricahua Apache Warrior, Cochise, and his stronghold. What many people don't realize, however, is that there is evidence of humans hundreds and hundreds of years older than the Apaches hidden in these mountains. The most easily accessible of these is Council Rocks.


History: It is thought that the pictographs scattered around Council Rocks were put there by ancient Mogollon people roughly 1,000 years ago, along with the grinding mortars used for grinding nuts and seeds.

Some people also believe that it was at this location where Cochise made peace with General O.O. Howard in 1872. According to Howard's description of their meeting place, however, this may not be entirely true: Conceive yourself standing beneath a cluster of oaks on a plateau of grassland, facing westward, with a high mountain behind you, toward your right a wall of sandstone rock almost perpendicular, presenting somewhat the appearance of an old castle in ruins. A few hundred yards in front a stream of water clear as crystal. Beyond a series of ravines with mesas or tablelands between, mainly parallel to the stream and to the mountain range. Six or seven miles distant, apparently much less, there arose a globular height 300 feet out of the plain entirely independent of other hills, beyond it the river San Pedro. Some people believe this sounds like Council Rocks; some claim it is a more accurate description of Slavin Gulch, which is passed en route to the Council Rocks Trailhead.

Hike: From the parking area, you will have a few options to reach Council Rocks. The house-sized boulders directly above are your destination. There is no official "trail" to get there; rather, a few paths that lead straight up. We chose a break in the fence on the left side of the parking lot with a path that looked well-traveled. It meandered around the base of the rocks for a minute and then shot straight up. Catclaw was prevalent and required a bit of dodging. The path topped out at a large room created by a giant fallen boulder. There was evidence of campfire, but no trash. On the other side of the large room is a wall full of pictographs. If you have a hard time spotting them (which some people do), just find the free-standing sign describing the pictographs and then look about 20 feet in front of it. They are a faint pinkish color, although apparently much better preserved and less faded then other known pictographs. Make sure to do plenty of exploring in this area. There is a different view around every corner and the boulders are really fun to climb on.

Beyond the immediate Council Rocks area, there is a well-worn path that continues north. It is worn for about 0.5 miles before petering out into a series of fainter paths and washes. There seems to be plenty of potential exploring in this area.

Conclusion: We did this hike as part of a relaxing New Year's camping trip and were surprised at the number of people visiting the western Dragoons. All of the info I've been able to find on the west side of the range included phrases like "remote" and "lesser known". Don't believe what you hear elsewhere; people ARE visiting the Western Dragoons. There are a plethora of top notch car camping spots on the back-roads, but they were just about all taken when we were there. During our 1.5 hour exploration of the Council Rock area, we passed at least 3 other groups. I can't blame any of them, though. The Dragoons are beautiful, and the west side is the best side for enjoying the sunsets, as the sun illuminates the west face of the mountain and turns the boulders bright orange. If you decide to visit Council Rocks, consider checking out one of the other nearby hikes, such as Stronghold Canyon West or Slavin Gulch. It will definitely be hot in the summer, so bring plenty of water during those warmer months. Lastly, the road to the trailhead, 687k, is not suitable for a low clearance vehicle. If you have low or medium clearance, park in one of the pullouts near the 687K turnoff and walk to the trailhead.
Description 11 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 3
 Region
 
0
0
 Douglas
Statistics
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,940 feet
Elevation Gain 150 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.95
Interest Historic
Author JoelHazelton
Descriptions 16
Routes 9
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 31
Location Phoenix, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
22  2016-01-16 Ysabet
22  2014-03-28 tibber
13  2014-03-28 writelots
7  2013-04-14 Pivo
29  2013-01-17
Cochise Stronghold Trail #279
MAVM
8  2012-05-25
Slavin Gulch Trail #332
MAVM
24  2010-10-29
Western Dragoon Wanderings
Sarae
13  2009-01-01 JoelHazelton
12  2003-02-04
Slavin Gulch Trail #332
rwstorm
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Forest Coronado
Backpack   No
Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → 3 PM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:16am - 7:30pm
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Slavin Gulch Trail #332
2.1 mi away
7.4 mi
1,854 ft
Sheepshead Peak 6545
4.0 mi away
3.8 mi
1,643 ft
Cochise Stronghold Campground
4.2 mi away
Cochise Stronghold Trail #279
4.2 mi away
4.5 mi
1,100 ft
Cochise Stronghold Nature Trail
4.6 mi away
0.4 mi
59 ft
China Peak
5.3 mi away
7.8 mi
1,894 ft
[ View More! ]
Geology
Granite
Meteorology
Sunrise
Sunset
Named place
Council Rocks
Culture
Mogollon Mano and Metate
Learn some history at the Dragoons
by JoelHazelton

Overview: The Dragoon Mountains are mainly known for the famed Chiricahua Apache Warrior, Cochise, and his stronghold. What many people don't realize, however, is that there is evidence of humans hundreds and hundreds of years older than the Apaches hidden in these mountains. The most easily accessible of these is Council Rocks.


History: It is thought that the pictographs scattered around Council Rocks were put there by ancient Mogollon people roughly 1,000 years ago, along with the grinding mortars used for grinding nuts and seeds.

Some people also believe that it was at this location where Cochise made peace with General O.O. Howard in 1872. According to Howard's description of their meeting place, however, this may not be entirely true: Conceive yourself standing beneath a cluster of oaks on a plateau of grassland, facing westward, with a high mountain behind you, toward your right a wall of sandstone rock almost perpendicular, presenting somewhat the appearance of an old castle in ruins. A few hundred yards in front a stream of water clear as crystal. Beyond a series of ravines with mesas or tablelands between, mainly parallel to the stream and to the mountain range. Six or seven miles distant, apparently much less, there arose a globular height 300 feet out of the plain entirely independent of other hills, beyond it the river San Pedro. Some people believe this sounds like Council Rocks; some claim it is a more accurate description of Slavin Gulch, which is passed en route to the Council Rocks Trailhead.

Hike: From the parking area, you will have a few options to reach Council Rocks. The house-sized boulders directly above are your destination. There is no official "trail" to get there; rather, a few paths that lead straight up. We chose a break in the fence on the left side of the parking lot with a path that looked well-traveled. It meandered around the base of the rocks for a minute and then shot straight up. Catclaw was prevalent and required a bit of dodging. The path topped out at a large room created by a giant fallen boulder. There was evidence of campfire, but no trash. On the other side of the large room is a wall full of pictographs. If you have a hard time spotting them (which some people do), just find the free-standing sign describing the pictographs and then look about 20 feet in front of it. They are a faint pinkish color, although apparently much better preserved and less faded then other known pictographs. Make sure to do plenty of exploring in this area. There is a different view around every corner and the boulders are really fun to climb on.

Beyond the immediate Council Rocks area, there is a well-worn path that continues north. It is worn for about 0.5 miles before petering out into a series of fainter paths and washes. There seems to be plenty of potential exploring in this area.

Conclusion: We did this hike as part of a relaxing New Year's camping trip and were surprised at the number of people visiting the western Dragoons. All of the info I've been able to find on the west side of the range included phrases like "remote" and "lesser known". Don't believe what you hear elsewhere; people ARE visiting the Western Dragoons. There are a plethora of top notch car camping spots on the back-roads, but they were just about all taken when we were there. During our 1.5 hour exploration of the Council Rock area, we passed at least 3 other groups. I can't blame any of them, though. The Dragoons are beautiful, and the west side is the best side for enjoying the sunsets, as the sun illuminates the west face of the mountain and turns the boulders bright orange. If you decide to visit Council Rocks, consider checking out one of the other nearby hikes, such as Stronghold Canyon West or Slavin Gulch. It will definitely be hot in the summer, so bring plenty of water during those warmer months. Lastly, the road to the trailhead, 687k, is not suitable for a low clearance vehicle. If you have low or medium clearance, park in one of the pullouts near the 687K turnoff and walk to the trailhead.
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    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.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Tucson, take the I-10 south to Highway 80, in Benson. Take 80 south towards Tombstone. Just before Tombstone, turn left onto Middlemarch Rd. Once you enter the national forest, Middlemarch Rd. degrades in quality. Travel several miles down Middlemarch Rd, past many perfect campsites, until you reach 687K. Turn right on 687K and follow it to the trailhead.

    Reported difficult to find: load this into your gps and report back
    page created by JoelHazelton on Jan 07 2009 3:52 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    stay out of the scorching sun
    prehydrate & stay hydrated
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