It doesn’t get any more convenient
Located just minutes from downtown Patagonia off the paved, Harshaw Road, it literally doesn’t get any easier or more convenient than getting yourself to a trailhead / parking area. That said, there is definitely more than one way to approach / incorporate Kunde Mountain into your route. However, launching from the Harshaw TH is definitely the most straightforward. In addition to being extremely easy to find, [and not having to deal with rough dirt roads], starting from the Harshaw TH has another advantage: it’s also a takeoff point for the Arizona Trail, which happens to go vey near the base of Kunde Mountain.
Hike (again, this is one of many options) – The route I took is a lollipop loop and can be divided into three segments:
1. Approach/Return – This forms the “stick” of the lollipop and is the most straightforward to describe: from the Harshaw Road TH, simply follow the Arizona Trail heading to the NE [left-hand side of the road if coming from Patagonia] for about 2 miles.
2. Ascent – After about 2 miles, the *bushwhack to the summit of Kunde Mountain will begin. *NOTE: According to FS Topo, there should be a jeep road that leads to the summit; however, unless I completely overlooked the obvious, I did not see anything that remotely resembled a trail / jeep road. Thus, after departing from the Arizona Trial where a jeep road should have begun according to FS Topo, faint animal routes, [at best], were all I had to assist me in negotiating the terrain as I continued up toward the summit of Kunde. As someone who’s accustomed to off-trail peak bagging, I did not find the terrain to be difficult in terms of poor footing / having to dodge tons of cacti. On the flip side, it’s definitely not the uber easy kind of bushwhack that involves traversing soft, pine-covered hillsides at 7,000+ feet; and someone who’s never been off-trail may find it challenging. Finally in terms the terrain, another important consideration: when I did this hike [in August] I would rank the visibility factor as “fair” to “poor” due to the thick grass; and, while I did not encounter any snakes, I probably would not have opted to do this hike during snake season had I known how thick the grass was going to be in places.
After bushwhacking for nearly two-thirds of a mile, I came upon a depression in the Earth [which somewhat resembled an area of old mining activity]. After skirting this depression, I immediately encountered a well-defined route that leads the rest of the way to the summit. This route was consistent with where the jeep road should have been, according to FS Topo.
The 360 degree summit views are absolutely beautiful. There is a register nestled among the rocks in the area of the highpoint, and it dates back to 1985. Being a SAHC Peak, Kunde Mountain gets some amount of action, but there are still full calendar years without a single sign-in. After signing in and soaking up the views, Kunde Mountain’s lower prominent point is a short but fun scramble away and definitely worth checking out while you’re up there. It looks ‘craggy’ but a route leading from one prominent point to the other makes it easy to access.
3. Descent – for those wanting more variety than an out-and-back, I highly recommended descending via the wide, grassy gully that is situated between Kunde’s two prominent points. The descent is fast, fun, and slightly less brushy. Shortly after entering this wide gulley, I noticed a barbed wire fence and found that there were faint routes and/or better footing if I stayed within about 15-20 feet of the fence, on the left side. Following this fence, which leads toward UN 5213 and then contours it, will eventually lead you back to the Arizona Trail, almost three-quarters of a mile closer to the TH than where you departed the trail to ascend Kunde.
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.