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China Peak, AZ

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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,377 feet
Elevation Gain 1,734 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,831 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3-4.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.91
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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13  2014-01-19 PrestonSands
13  2012-05-31 MAVM
33  2010-04-17
West Dragoon Weekend
1  2009-10-24 VVebb
6  2009-10-21 PrestonSands
18  2009-02-12 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,659
Trips 1,750 map ( 9,074 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:31am - 7:22pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

See Mexico from China!
by PrestonSands

This hike follows old mining roads to the 7125-foot summit of China Peak, along the crest of the Dragoon Mountains. China Peak's spectacular 360-degree view of southern Arizona, coupled with the Dragoon's signature granite formations, makes for a great hike.

As this hike makes use of Forest Road 697, which is a lightly used, high clearance four-wheel-drive road, one could shave several miles off of the hike if they are not opposed to scratching up their vehicle on thorny vegetation and rocks, on a road with limited turn around spots. This description begins at Middlemarch Road, which is the suggested starting point.

Zinc, lead, and silver was discovered in the Abrigo Limestone on the south slope of China Peak in 1913, leading to the development of the San Juan Mine (a.k.a. Gordon Mine). With over one thousand feet of underground tunnels, this operation supported a small mining camp nearby, known as Gordon Camp. Mining ceased in 1952, and the mines lie abandoned today.

From Middlemarch Road, the hike heads north, following the rocky route of Forest Road 697 up a small valley. Upon crossing a saddle at 1.1 miles, the road begins a steady ascent along a mountainside of ocotillo and grey limestone. Views from this area include Tombstone and the Mule and Huachuca ranges. The route comes tantalizingly close to impressive formations of Stronghold Granite before passing through a road cut into a hidden valley of oak-juniper woodland and lichen-encrusted cliffs. At the bottom of the valley, a side road leaves to the right: stay left. Our road continues north, following a rocky creek bed, and passes another side road to the right at 2.7 miles. Again, stay left.

The increasingly primitive road reaches the first of several collapsed shafts and tunnels of the San Juan Mine at 2.9 miles, where it switchbacks to the left to leave the canyon bottom. At 3 miles, the road comes to a turn around in a small side drainage, where an ATV trail branches off to the north, climbing a mine tailings dump. Follow the ATV trail, which begins an unforgivingly steep ascent along China Peak's south ridge.

The trail crests a false summit shortly before terminating at China Peak's conical apex, where one can take in an outstanding 360-degree view of most of southeastern Arizona. A little over a mile to the north, the towering rocks of Cochise Stronghold erupt from the heart of the Dragoons.

From China Peak, one can return the same way or head down the peak's north ridge to connect with Forest Road 345A and the Slavin Gulch Trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-02-19 PrestonSands
    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 $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    Take US 80 (south) from Benson. Turn left onto Middlemarch Road (one mile north of Tombstone), and follow it for 11.8 miles to Forest Road 697 on the left (this is 1.8 miles after entering Coronado National Forest). It is recommended to park at the beginning of FR 697. Follow FR 697. (see hike description)
    page created by PrestonSands on Feb 19 2009 12:50 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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