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Pinacate Peak, AZ

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Guide 3 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Ajo
5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 426 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8 hours
Backpack TBD
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
59  2017-04-03 mike85741
Author Ksorensen
author avatar Guides 8
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 9 map ( 73 miles )
Age 48 Female Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Jan → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Winter
Sun  6:19am - 6:28pm
0 Alternative
by Ksorensen

Note: This hike is in Mexico. HAZ does not have access to data for the area... so the trail data is speculation at best.

The Pinacate mountain range is the large volcano in Mexico you see off to your right as you drive down to Rocky Point.

Once at the base of the volcano (see directions below), there is a road that begins to wind up the mountain, but then tapers off. We hiked this road and then all splintered off into different directions, each trying to find the 'best' path up the volcano. I don't think anyone ever found an actual trail. The volcano is all lava rock and cinder so it would be difficult to create a real trail. I started on the southeast side and headed in a northwest direction up the mountain, eventually realizing the peak from the north. The peak is around ~3,900 feet high and the hike is extremely difficult. I heard that most people who attempt the peak do not make it. You must make your way through the razor-sharp lava at the base of the mountain and then through the loose cinder at the top. My thick leather boots were torn to shreds and my joints ached from the constant pounding. The hike took all day.

Once at the top, it is tradition that you imitate the Pinacate Beetle by doing a hand-stand. Apparently, this particular beetle likes to stick his rear-end in the air. The view up there is impossible to won't get a better one anywhere. On a clear day you can see the mountains of Baja California. What is even more remarkable about this trip is that the pristine Sonoran Desert in the area is entirely awash in black soil and black rock from the volcano. A truly eerie and beautiful landscape that you will not see anywhere else. While you're there, take the extra time to go see El Elegante, a beautiful impact crater where rumor has it that astronauts trained for the moon landscape. Don't know if that's true, but it sounds plausible.

This hike is very difficult, but one of the most rewarding you can imagine. If you do one hard-core desert camp/hike in your life, make it this one. Be very careful, however. Only attempt this hike if you are an experienced hiker and camper, who is well-versed in desert survival. Don't mean to scare you, but An Arizona hiker got lost in this area several years ago and died of dehydration.

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2002-02-18 Ksorensen
    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
    Pinacate Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Note: I uploaded a GPS route which included part of the road since it wasn't clearly visible on the map. It's best to park at the Co-no Rojo (Red Cone) Campground, which is roughly a 14 mile drive from the visitor center. By the way Co-no has no dash, but it's being screened out because it means something else in Spanish ;-).

    Starting out, we took the road which seemed to wind around away from Pinacate Peak, which was our goal. Starting elevation was approximately 1306 feet. We stayed on the road for about 1 mile, and then decided to take a shortcut, heading North. We were off the road for roughly 30 minutes and then we linked up again with the road and decided to follow it further. There are signs marking each kilometer on the road. We kept hiking and the road was starting to gain more elevation. At a high point, still on the road, we saw a sign that said "8 km", and that was the last sign we saw with a measurement on it. The trail narrowed and began to climb toward Pinacate mountain. There were huge fields of yellow flowers around us. At a high point we saw a bighorn sheep, briefly, on a peak just North of Pinacate. The last several hundred feet of climbing was on unstable ground with a lot of loose rock which made it difficult. There was so much loose rock that we would sink into the ground several inches. For every 2 feet we stepped upward, we lost about 6 inches due to sliding backward. Eventually we made it to the top and were able to see some really nice views of the surrounding area. A crater could be seen in the distance. The Gulf of California was easily visible, which was only roughly 20-25 miles to the Southwest. The peak was at 3,910 feet elevation, which was a difference of 2,604 feet. On the way down we decided to take a shortcut because the road was definitely not a direct route and we were short on time. We did have to cut across a few lava flows, which were like piles of sharp rock. The "lava rock" was 95% stable on the flat areas and not too difficult to walk over, just a bit slow.

    The fee for just hiking for the day was 64 pesos or $4 USD. There may be a higher fee for camping, which we didn't do on this trip. We ended up staying at my ocean front condo at Sonoran Sea Resort in Rocky Point, which is roughly 30 miles to the South. If anyone would like to stay there, please private message me or visit the website listed in my signature below.

    Permit $$
    Information is listed below

    Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
    $8 fee per car for a 7 day pass. Backpacking and backcountry camping is not allowed at this time due to an increase in illegal border activity.. Camping is available in the two designated campgrounds only.

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    To hike the summit, you must first stop off just across the border for a permit. The border guards can tell you which building to go to for permits. Approximately half way to Rocky Point is a dirt road (marked by a sign and old tires) that leads to the base of the mountain. You should drive there armed with very good topos because there are dozens of dirt roads that snake all through the country there and I can't remember exactly which ones get you to the base of the mountain, where you'll need to camp. We camped on the southeast side of the base of the mountain. You don't really need a 4X4 (the Mexican ranger we ran into was driving a Pinto), but be sure you have an extra tire or two with you. The road goes through sharp lava beds.
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