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Eagle 3186 - Eagletail Mountains Wilderness, AZ

no permit
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Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Buckeye W
4.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,161 feet
Elevation Gain 1,549 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 23
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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44  2019-01-09
Eagle 3186 & 2 Benchmarks-Eagletail Mtns Wilde
22  2018-10-19 Jim_H
41  2016-02-13
Triple Eye Eagle
Author Jim_H
author avatar Guides 55
Routes 44
Photos 7,651
Trips 1,615 map ( 9,681 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Apr, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:21am - 6:32pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
northern accipitridae visual acuity
by Jim_H

Eagle 3186 is the highest point in the northern half of the Eagletail range, eclipsed only by Eagletail Peak at the southern end of the range. Eagle 3186 is a non-technical peak, providing the best views over the range available without climbing gear. This hike provides a decent challenge for desert route finding, cross country travel, and is a nice way to be alone, but you don't have forest of cholla, or ATV people.

The hike is basically 2 segments. The first is the long road walk approach to the catchment. The second is the off trail approach to the base of the mass of peak 3186. The second segment is more difficult, but it is pretty straightforward to get to. Once at the base, avoid going up to the cliffs and instead go around to the SE face and scramble up to the summit block. For the summit, it should never be too difficult.

There is not a lot of wildlife out here from what I could tell, and the vegetation being so sparse may be a part of the that. Just a lot of rock, really. Desolate isolation in the middle of a heavily traveled via interstate highway desert, is how I saw it.

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2018-10-20 Jim_H
    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
    Eagle 3186 - Eagletail Mountains Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Triple Eye Eagle
    My goal was Eagle 3186, the benchmark on the highest peak in the northern Eagletail Mountains. I'd always looked at this range while driving on I-10 west to California, and was happy to finally explore here. Most who visit begin near Courthouse Rock and the Ben Avery trail on the east, but I chose to start on the northwest, at the end of YE029 off the pipeline road. It's about 3.5 miles to Triple Eye Catchment along an old roadbed. About 2 miles in you catch a glimpse of the first of the triple eyes. Another half mile along the road and you can see all three. I had seen the name on the map, but didn't really know what to expect. A quick web search hadn't netted any details. As a result, I was quite intrigued when I saw it. So much so, that I decided I should climb up to it. But I didn't want to get too distracted from my goal, so I pressed on and decided I could climb Triple Eye on the way back if time permitted.

    I continued to Triple Eye Catchment at the end of the old road, a fascinating structure of engineering built by AZGFD for watering wildlife. Probably the most extensive project like this I've ever encountered. I smiled for all the game cameras ;) and pressed on uphill toward the peak.

    Along my planned "best-route" option, I saw a large arch up a side drainage and decided to check it out. It was great! I ended up having lunch here. I was slowly learning that the Eagletails are absolutely loaded with natural arches and windows! My arch side-trip made me choose a different path to ascend, and I'm glad I did! My approach to a small ridge kept me hidden from four mighty rams that were foraging in a draw just below the crest. It wasn't long before my BO notified them to my presence, and they ran a good distance before taking a breather to curiously look back at me. I knew the Eagletails had a population of sheep, so I was very excited to be able to encounter this herd! :y:

    Climbing ever higher, I was surprised that the next wildlife I spotted were four deer. They too became aware of my presence and ran off quickly.

    Eagle 3186 is protected on three sides by 100+ foot cliffs, but I was able to traverse a moderate slope to the west and ascend into a small bowl southwest of the peak (oh, and another arch). From here, I decided to head straight up for the peak, a solid class-3 endeavor. Nearing the summit, I had to head around to the east before making the final 20 foot climb to the summit. There is a ton of room and great views in all directions. The register was placed 20 years ago, and there were perhaps 12 entries, including all the usual suspects.

    On the return, I descended the drainage toward Dead Deer tank, another natural pothole aided by AZGFD construction. And another arch. :roll:

    I was down to a half liter of water, and with 6 miles or so to get back to the truck, I decided to drink and filter from a pool in the bedrock. I was surprised to find such pools in these dry and desolate mountains. It has to have been many weeks since it last rained here.

    The extra water allowed me the luxury of not heading directly back to the truck, but ascending the peak of Triple Eye with an attempt to view the arches up close. This is a rugged, vertical mass of rock and I ascended the drainage to the west before climbing the ridge to the arches. I was unable to get above them, but by taking a route on the north side, I was able to clearly see the westernmost arch. I made a solid attempt to climb it, but turned back due to being alone. In reality, the class-4 ascent would not be particularly difficult, but tired, at the end of a long hot day, and no support, I decided it wasn't worth the risk.

    The center arch is not visible from anywhere on the north side, though the opening where it is can be seen. I went around to the east side and caught a glimpse of the third eye, though this one may be the most precarious to attempt to reach. With sunset nearing, I contemplated dropping directly into the drainage east of the eyes, but decided to head back to the west side of the eyes before taking a less-than optimal route back toward the road to try to shave some distance. It would have been easier to descend the same drainage I had come up.

    All-in-all, a fantastic day, and an area that deserves further exploration!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    Take I-10 West from Phoenix to Exit 53, Hovatter RD. Go south and over
    the canal. Take the left onto the dirt road which may be signed as the
    AT& T frontage Rd. Continue on the Frontage RD for a total of 7.14
    miles to the El Paso Gas Line Access RD. At 1.1 miles, bear left at
    a narrow fork in the road. At 4.4 miles, curve due south and at 4.5 miles, cross over the connector road
    and continue south towards a microwave tower structure and the gas line access road.

    At 5.86 miles you will pass 51st ST N, in La Paz County, which is
    graded, and then right after, a rough 2 track crossing. Continue
    south. Shortly after you will continue south at a fork, with a left
    going up to the micro-tower. This is in slightly hilly terrain.

    Left on to the El Paso Gas line for 5 miles, or 4.99 miles per the
    GPS. Then turn south, or right on to a 2 track which is also 1.4 miles
    west of the compressor or other gas station on the El Paso Gas line. This was signed as YE029.

    Proceed SW on the 2 track for 0.7 miles to another intersection and then
    head SSE on another rougher 2 track towards the Eagle Tail wilderness boundary, and the parking area.

    It is just over 3 miles total from the cattle gate to the wilderness boundary.
    page created by chumley on Feb 14 2016 11:00 pm
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