Little Peak with a Big History
Just like the nearby Sardina Peak, the legends of lost treasure, [once again, silver bullion], surrounding the vicinity of Cerro Colorado isn’t exactly on the same scale as the Legend of the Lost Dutchman; however, it might just explain why the little 4,207’ ‘molehill’ got the name ‘Cerro Colorado’, despite the fact that the two main ridgelines forming the Cerro Colorado Mountains just to the Northeast are filled with peaks that tower over little Cerro Colorado. Assuming the GPS coordinates listed here are accurate, then the summit of Cerro Colorado would sit just under 1 mile, ‘as-the-crow-flies’ from the old ghost town, Cerro Colorado; and it would also make this peak the highest point within a 1 mile radius of this ghost town. For a brief overview of the area’s history, along with a summary of the tale of the Cerro Colorado Treasure, I’ll defer to Wikipedia. For hike details, read on.
Hike: While this is a very short, ‘leg-stretcher’ type of hike if done by itself, [ranging from about 1.25 to 3.20 miles depending on your chosen route], the tons of nearby peaks, mines, and dirt roads in the area make this little peak a perfect add-on to a longer adventure. The peak looks approachable from most angles; and, [although I did not dash up the steeper, SE-facing slope, (which is the shortest option relative to where most will probably choose to park)], it looked totally doable. Since I did this peak during snake season, I opted to contour the base via a dirt road and than bank upwards at whatever point looked less overgrown. While I can only speak for the part of the mountain I ascended/descended, the ‘brush-factor’, [which was very mild], did not appear to change much, [at least on the sides of the peak I was able to see]. Speaking of brush, while I’d consider it very mild for an off-trail hike, I’d definitely still recommend pants. There is some thorny, catclaw-like vegetation that was not sharp enough to get through my pants but will definitely put scratches on bare skin. As for footing, I would consider it to be ‘very good to excellent’ for an off-trail hike: good griping dirt / rocks; nothing too loose or steep…
…unfortunately, being an easy bushwhack comes with a price: the summit is littered with cans and broken glass bottles; almost as if Cerro Colorado were the local mountain to drink / going partying on. At least the locals and/or whoever’s been leaving the trash confined most of it to several rock cairns that have been built on top; but it was still sad to see. I peaked around briefly for a register and didn’t find one, but not wanting to get cut on buried glass, I didn’t put much effort into it and instead focused on the spectacular 360 degree views. The immediate views were of course the Cerro Colorado Mountains directly to the NE, and then further off were the Santa Ritas to the East, the Tumacacoris to the South, and the Baboquivaris to the NW, to name a few of more well know ranges.
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.