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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Black Diamond Peak, AZ

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Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Douglas
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4.5 of 5 by 4
 
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,721 feet
Elevation Gain 1,425 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,162 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.81
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
25  2016-04-20
Double Dragoon
The_Dude
11  2012-01-21
Cochise Stronghold Trail #279
PrestonSands
18  2012-01-14 writelots
61  2012-01-14 tibber
21  2010-03-02 PrestonSands
8  2010-02-17 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:05am - 6:23pm
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0 Alternative
 
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Flora Nearby
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Named place Nearby
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Dragoonies and Sloth pursue the Apache treasure
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview
Black Diamond Peak, a 7,146 foot peak located in the south-central Dragoon Mountains, doesn't stand out from a distance. It's just another mountain along the crest of the Dragoons. But it delivers an adventure and an incredible view for those who pick their way up its rocky crest. This hike describes a route to the peak from Middlemarch Road.


History
Black Diamond Peak received its name from the Black Diamond Mine, discovered on its southeast slope by prospector Albert George in 1880. The name Black Diamond was a reference to its zinc ore that resembled black diamonds. George worked his claim for several years, before being killed by Apaches at Black Diamond Spring in early 1883. The mine was relocated in 1891 by several businessmen from Tombstone, who, after some exploratory work, uncovered a fortune in copper and silver ore. The mine slowly developed into a major operation in the following years, eventually spawning the town of Black Diamond, a smelter to process the mine's ore, an aerial tramway to haul the ore to the smelter, and several thousand feet of underground tunnels. At one point some two hundred miners were employed, and a hotel and post office were in operation. Lack of water and financial problems continually plagued the operation though, bringing an early end to the mining boom. The Black Diamond Mine changed hands multiple times during the 20th century, and attempts were made to reopen it, but the ore, laced with zinc, was considered too complex to profitably process.

Hike
A short distance up Forest Road 4393 from Middlemarch Road is a parking area in the trees on the left side of the road. Park here, and stay right at the road fork, which crosses a creek bed. If you have a high clearance vehicle, you can drive farther up the road and park, but turn around spots and parking are limited. Anyhow, start hiking up Forest Road 4393. The road climbs steadily up the valley floor through oak scrub towards Black Diamond Peak, which appears as a rocky topped green pyramid above. A couple of spur roads break off to the left, accessing a small abandoned mine. Our road climbs steeply, aiming for a high saddle to the right (west) of the peak. Be sure to take a break, and turn around to admire the view of the Stronghold behind you.

The steep and rocky route of Forest Road 4393 concludes at a "T" junction high on a mountainside, at 1.4 miles. The right spur leads a few hundred feet to the abandoned tunnel of the Escapule Mine. The mine is worth exploring, but be careful. Old shafts drop down from the main tunnel. Back at the "T" junction take the left spur, which is really nothing more than an old bulldozer scar from mining days. A path follows the old bulldozer scar through the pinyons, and soon peters out upon reaching the high saddle on the west side of Black Diamond Peak. The view from the saddle is impressive. One can look out of Henry Canyon's amphitheater to the San Pedro Valley, and along the spine of the southern Dragoons. Above, the rocky bluffs of Black Diamond Peak beckon.

From the saddle, a faint game trail follows the faint bulldozer scar across the rocky western slope of the peak, climbing almost imperceptibly. The game trail fades in and out, and it may take some imagination to see the ancient bulldozer scar, but you really won't get lost here. Other than scattered junipers and yuccas, the mountainside is quite open. Just aim for the ridgeline or the saddle on the far end of Black Diamond Peak. A half mile traverse will bring you to the south ridge of Black Diamond Peak.

Once you reach the south ridge, start climbing. There is nothing too difficult here, just plenty of weaving through boulders and brush on a steep ridgeline. Hundreds of feet below, the tailings of the Black Diamond Mine are just barely visible. What cannot be missed though is the far reaching view of the Sulphur Springs Valley and the Chiricahua Mountains.

The ridgeline eventually transitions into mountain top, and the going gets tougher. Rocky outcrops and pinyon limbs do their best to slow your progress, adding a bit of challenge and fun. After several false summits, you will reach the true summit of Black Diamond Peak, which is a small, bare rocky patch overlooking the rest of the mountaintop. Sign the register, kick back and enjoy the unbeatable, all encompassing view of Cochise County.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2010-03-05 PrestonSands
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    guide related
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 Reviews
Black Diamond Peak
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Double Dragoon
I made a trip down to our Cochise yard on Tuesday and ended up spending the night down there. Got all my work done, so that meant I could get a hike in Wednesday! As many times as I have been down this way over the years, I had still only hiked the Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoons, glad I could change that. I headed south to Middlemarch road in the trusty Nissan Quest hoping that the road would not prove too funky. As it turns out, the east side is a bit rough but very passable in a passenger vehicle (when dry), and the western portion is possibly one of the best dirt roads I have ever been on. I made my way up to Soren Camp road and parked shortly after the road junction. I started hiking up the road to the 'Trailhead' for Cochise. Nice temps in the morning, spring is finally starting to come to this part of the state. I followed the jeep road up to where the barbed wire fence is, I followed the fence up and eventually passed through a gate. Best bet is to stay just to the left of the barbed wire the whole way up, don't bother going through the gate. I got a little off track on the way up, but staying by the fence o the way back made for easier going. Nice little peak, a few scramble spots but all in all a decent bit of off trail. Took a nice break at the top enjoying some of the views, but the best was still to come. The summit jar was disintegrating, if anyone is coming up here anytime soon you should bring a new one! There are some nice campsites you pass on the way up Soren Camp road, I would imagine even some better ones once you get up the road further. I bumped my way down Middlemarch Pass over to forest road 4393 and parked in some shad to begin my next hike. The road up to Black Diamond is good and steep, and the temps were getting warmer with noon approaching. The track starts out nice and easy to follow, but then becomes a game trail that fades in and out. Nothing too hard to find, but it does traverse a pretty good slope, so watch your step. I was glad I brought my hiking stick along for this one, but I still ended up on my backside a few times thanks to the varied terrain, some loose rocks here and there, plus lots of vegetation to work your way around. Few things say fun like picking your way through the Catclaw and Manzanita, I left some donations along the way, and still have a few spines to dig out of my skin...The route up to the summit is not too difficult, there are a few false summits to negotiate around, but for the most part easy to find. I did not find a summit log up top, maybe I missed it. Took a quick break to enjoy the sweeping views of Southern Arizona and Mexico. So many mountains left to climb...I took a quick side trip tot he mine on the way back, but I just poked my head in the entrance. Looks like you could go quite a ways into this one if that is your thing, but I was solo and running short on time too. Chugged my way back down the forest road, and then continued westward down to Tombstone. Waved hello to a few BP agents blocking the road a few miles down and they let me pass by without any hassle. Took the 80 back through St. David and benson, and then back home by the I-10. Long day, but good to get these both in.

Wildflowers
A few things in bloom, but it is just getting started down here.
Black Diamond Peak
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Not having seen any available and appealing campsites along the West Stronghold road, Shauna and I traveled up toward Middlemarch Pass and located one on a short side road. After camp was set up, we started hiking up the road toward Black Diamond Peak.

At the saddle, we left the route to the peak and continued south and west along the old mine road I had hiked back in February 2010 (I couldn't believe it had been five years!). We stopped along the mountain side to check out some fossils, consult my area geology map and to admire the views of Black Diamond Peak and the San Pedro Valley, but with the howling wind we didn't stay long. We stopped to briefly explore the Escapule Mine before heading back to camp. As is the norm for me, I made campfire quesadillas, did some night photography and read from my Dragoon history book.

Sunday morning found us packed up and heading east along Middlemarch Road, our destination being the town of Pearce, for day two of our weekend adventure.
Black Diamond Peak
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After combing the hills unsuccesfully for Epithelantha cacti, I hit the trail for Black Diamond Peak. I decided to try a new route up through a break in the cliff band on the west slope. I went straight up into the rocky chute, fighting brush and precariously balanced rocks the whole way. I emerged at the top of the chute only 100 or so feet from the summit of Black Diamond Peak. That 100 feet was 10 minutes worth of squeezing and twisting through thick tree limbs on rocky ledges. : rambo : Following my summit visit, I descended the peak via the south ridge and then continued downslope to the historic Black Diamond Mine. The mine was more extensive than I had imagined, with numerous tunnels, a half buried mine car track, and a few bottomless, partially collapsed shafts. It was an enjoyable, remote and historic setting. I roamed the site until sunset and then made a hasty retreat back across the mountainsides, reaching my truck well after dark. No Dragoon trip for me is complete without a Tombstone visit, so I made good on that before heading home with a collection of great new adventure memories.
Black Diamond Peak
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Filled with Dragoon fever after reading Angela's recent Black Diamond triplog, I just had to visit the Dragoons...

After a cactus shopping spree and dinner with a friend in Tucson, I journeyed east on I-10, arriving at a campsite in East Stronghold Canyon around midnight. The occasional hooting from a pair of owls kept me company under the starry sky. I awoke at dawn to cliffs of Stronghold granite growing bright orange. The first stop on my busy day would be the Stronghold. I hiked up to the divide, enjoying the familiar sights and wonderful rocks as always. Another hiker seemed surprised at my turning around there. "I've gotta save time for Black Diamond Peak", I said, before heading back to the trailhead. I rehydrated upon reaching my truck, then continued south for hike #2 of the day.

My truck rattled up Middlemarch Road and my mind waxed nostalgic thinking of previous Dragoon adventures and happier times. Parking along road 4393, I set off on foot for Black Diamond Peak, soon passing a group of hikers on their way down. The wind really picked up at the saddle, where I began the Henry Canyon traverse. The Black Diamond ridge line was just as fun as I remembered, despite the wind doing its best to blow me off of it. I quickly reached the summit, where I sat down to enjoy one of my most favorite summit views and to savor the whole Dragoon experience. I was surprised to find a nice note in the summit register for me that Angela had left a week earlier. Thank you, Angela! :) Not wanting to leave but knowing I had to, I began the hike back to my truck.

Arriving in Tombstone, I realized I wouldn't have enough time to hike Mount Ballard in Bisbee as my final hike of the day like I had planned, so I decided upon the Guindani Trail, another old favorite. Thick, puffy clouds were blowing over the Whetstones as I screeched to a halt at the Guindani trailhead. Sunset was only 20 minutes away. I moved quickly across the flats and into Guindani Canyon. It was well after sunset when I reached the saddle highpoint, where I stopped to admire the fascinating form of The Cape in the distance. Two miles later the trailhead came into sight under the light of my headlamp, where I happily escaped the wind inside my truck, before departing for Tucson.

I returned to Tucson in time for the last 60 seconds of the REI Garage Sale, ate a well earned dinner, than began the long journey home.

Although rushed, this was an outstanding and very memorable trip. :D
Black Diamond Peak
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Once again, I've been beat to the wonderful details of the trip by my stalwart hiking companion... however, I really enjoyed this little jaunt, so I'm writing up my own version of events anyhow.

Tibber came down to the Old Pueblo on Friday night and I hiked her 'cross downtown to El Charro. She's gotten smart, though, and she wears her walkin' shoes when she arrives at my place now! I suppose if I was promising EC's Carne Seca at the end, she'd probably follow be just 'bout anywhere!

We spent the balance of the evening making pumpkin-pie protein bars. It's a recipe I recommend, though I still want to play with it a bit to get it dialed in to a higher level of pumpkin-y goodness. We turned in early with plans to get a decently early start.

Although it's a longish drive out through Sunsites and Pearce to the trailhead, it's a pretty one and well worth the trip even without the hike. I'd never actually driven through Pearce (on Ghost Town Trail Road no less), and found it to be the genuine little AZ ghost town I've always seen in my head. Gotta go back someday when 'all' the stores are open and what not ;) Middlemarch road was in good shape, though not super-fast through the pass. Once we turned off onto 4393, things got notably rougher. I might have made it in further with Bu if I'd been more adventurous, but we were here to hike afterall. We parked just a ways past the parking area described in the write up and headed off on foot with Lilo in tow.

The first part of the hike is classic AZ Mining Road walking. This means steep, loose and winding, but not difficult. It's a pretty area, and we were just happy to be out. I'd hoped that a little exercise would exorcise some of my nasty cold ick in my chest, but it only seemed to irritate it. I ended up spending the day sucking on lozenges and coughing 'till I peed. Nice.

At the top of the road we followed the instructions left along the old bulldozer scar. It was very obvious to me because the scar is grown in with a non-native bufflegrass where the rest of the hillside is finer, prettier native grasses. The narrow tread is a bit slopey in places, but not hard to follow. Lilo was having a great time showing us right where to go.

Once we made the ridgeline and stopped for a quick lunch, my coughing was getting quite bad. However, I was not in the mood to turn around after so short a trip, and we headed up the relatively open land along the ridge. Views here were fantastic, and the going was pretty easy. A little fun from time to time navigating around rocks and bushes, but overall just a nice walk.

Then we got to the part that Preston described as "mountain top like". And it was. Larger rock outcroppings with old, low hanging oaks and junipers. The going got fun. The last few 'false summits' were beating my endurance a little, between the fact that my cough suppressant was wearing out and there was a little more exposure than I was 100% comfortable with. (I'd give it about a 6 on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being 'no pumpkin way'). At one point, looking at the real summit still a dip and rise over, I almost gave up. It seemed like more work than it would be worth, and my woosey was hurting.

But, as Angela says, no self-respecting HAZer comes this far only to turn around...

I was very glad we pushed to the summit in the end. Not only were the views from there significantly better than from the ridge (the summit itself blocks views to the north until you're right on top), but the sun came out, the wind stopped and it was a beautiful, beautiful moment. Lilo had some trouble finding a soft spot to lay down, but she was tired enough to do with what she had.

We entered our names into the summit register, right after Preston 1/10 and Preston 1/11. I left my spiral bound notebook behind in the register, as the papers there seemed nearly full and decaying pretty quickly. Obviously not a well-visited spot, and while I'd like to keep it that way, I have to say that it's definitely worth more attention.

Our hike back was quicker and easier, with Lilo being an invaluable help in keeping us on the right animal tracks. Her nose knows for sure!

We made it to the HAZ camp just after dark, and it was such a delight to see everyone. So many folks that I'd not met before, or hadn't seen in ages. We're a pretty amazing group of folks, if I do say so myself!

Hated having to leave early, but the coughing just wouldn't stop, and I was afraid the group might lynch me if it carried on through the night. Angela and I drove back to Tucson trying to talk as little as I could (which meant I talked alot), and picking up a milkshake to soothe the sore throat.

Maybe next time for the Irish folk tunes around the fire!!
Black Diamond Peak
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It was HAZFest Winter 2012. What to do in one of our favorite mountain ranges in AZ? I printed out a couple options, what I called Plan Bs. But Wendy had a slightly different idea where I chose the lesser hike of Cochise Peak, she chose Black Diamond Peak and so Black Diamond Peak it was. Next, it was our hike to El Charro for carne seca and prickly pear cactus margaritas. We split the big plate. It was delish! :D

Saturday morning, even though Wendy woke up with a sore throat and a cough :sk: , she said "Let's hike". We headed to the Dragoons from the east side via Dragoon Road, Pearce (don't blink) and over the pass on Middlemarch Road. It's definitely a bumpy ride and when you turn on 4393, well it's much more difficult so we only went in a little ways before parking Bu. We geared up and started walking up and up and up :sweat: the old mining road. In about 1/2 mile from where we started the views to the north toward the Stronghold and east started opening up. Lilo was leading the way though and hurried us on :lol: .

Once we got to the end of the mining road (after hanging a left over the roller coaster part - I presume this was done on purpose by someone?) we arrived at the saddle. We could see views to the SW that were just a teaser to what was coming up. I thot we were hiking to the peak directly to the south of us so had that in my head while we were re-reading the directions as there was not a trail here or any cairns. After re-reading the hike desc when I got back, he called that Peak part of the southern spine of the Dragoons.

We could both see the game trail through the tall golden grass as it flanked this side of Black Diamond so off we went. You're walking on a very slanted path and some areas are a bit precarious at times but nothing unmanageable. Little did we know this would seem a piece of cake compared to what waited for us on the ridgeline and summit routes. The cane chollas were wearing their big and beautiful yellow fruit :FG: . It was such a sight; plus the cholla themselves were pretty good sized.

And of course, once you get to the middle of this 1/2 mile stretch, your views to the Huachucas and Whetstones are really something :DANCE: . Plus you get an incredible view of Rincon Peak. It did get a little windy and cool here but soon we were at the south saddle where across the way you could see a mineshaft entrance and tailings. There also happened to be a big pile of snow right there. It was now time for lunch so we found a sheltered area and lucky for us the sun stayed out and the wind died down.

After lunch, your task is :gun: up the fairly steep ridge (fortunately not far). And while this had some little challenges the most difficulty was still ahead (but what you don't know.... :GB: ). I did pass by what I presume was a mining stake. I also encountered two little colorful rainbow cactus (before death begins: http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=124805) where the middle was missing. Wendy tells me this is how they die :( . And soon we were at the top where we knew the false peaks would present themselves. And they did, one after the other, after the other, after the other. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It was the obstacles we encountered like trees, cactus, exposure, narrow routes and climbing at times (that would be climbing up, under, through and over stuff : rambo : ); that was the bad thing.

It was when we got to the last peak before the peak, we both looked at each other. I was thinking, how could that last peak be so far away :o ? Wendy wasn't feeling the best either plus she was not liking the exposure (although she really didn't say anything and I didn't want to mention how well I thot she was doing for fear of jinxing her). I gave her every opportunity to back out as I would have no problem coming back here again. But you know how it goes when you're that close, you buck up and forge ahead :wlift: .

Moments later, well not really moments, but a little bit and some exposure later, we finally found ourselves on the Summit :y: . The sun came out and there was virtually no wind. And the 360 vistas from here were nothing short of pumpkin amAZing. Let's see how I do (you can see on Video 2 as I did a 360): We'll start with the mountains directly in front of us as we face east: Dos Cabezas, Pinalenos, Cochise Stronghold, Whetstones, the snow covered Huachucas, the Mules and the snow covered Chiricahuas. Now is that something or what!!!

We did enjoy the summit for about 10 minutes before gathering our stuff and heading back over the peakline where once again we encountered the trees, cactus, exposure, narrow routes and climbing at times (that would be climbing up, under, through and over stuff : rambo : ). And as always on this type of hiking, it is easier going back as you know the route a little better and your angle of vision is clearer (the angle was slightly down).

And then there's the steep decline down to the saddle 8-[ and it wasn't easy either. Both of us were thinking on the trek back how this would not be the best place to hike during snake season :scared: . Interesting enough though, I came right by the mining stake I had seen earlier and the two little dieing cactus. I had a little trouble with the navigating as we got closer to the saddle when I went a little low and left where you need to stay a little high and right. But we found the area with the tree where we had our lunch. We had decided earlier that we would need to get a picture of our Black Diamond poles on Black Diamond Peak with the Black Diamond mineshaft in the background. :GB: The sun was totally not in the right place for this so my pics didn't turn out that well.

Once we were done amusing ourselves with our wittiness, it was time to make our way on the trail. This time we both went too high and just as we were yelling for Lilo to join us, we realize she is on the right trail just below us so we followed her. This would happen again as we tried to get from the north saddle back to the road. Lilo would keep us on the straight and narrow :) . Our walk across this slanted 1/2 mile section went much quicker this time. The sun was really making the grass glow as well as the rock outcroppings above us. We hiked the last mile on the mining road in a 1/2 hr discussing coming back to this area with Gary and King Gilbert for camping. We would hike Cochise Peak and with Gary we can visit Council Rocks. Yep sounds good to me. :PMIC:

Video 1: hike up the old mining road to the saddle, over the western flank to the south saddle - http://youtu.be/pYYSF7KVC-c
Video 2: up the ridge, along the summit, at the summit and back down - http://youtu.be/pYYSF7KVC-c
Black Diamond Peak
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Today seemed perfect to revisit one of my Dragoon favorites. Parked my truck a little ways up FR 4393, then went up on foot. Reached the wind swept summit in just over an hour, where I ate lunch and enjoyed the full 360 degree view. Signed the register (no one else had since my March 2010 entry), then made my way back. I love ol' Black Diamond! :)
Black Diamond Peak
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After getting off of work early, I drove straight to the Dragoons to determine if Black Diamond was actually climb-able or not, and to hopefully explore the Black Diamond Mine. I climbed up, hit the saddle, then followed some sort of a rough game trail along the west slope of Black Diamond. Reaching the south ridge a bit higher than I had planned, I decided to push up the ridge and attempt to summit. The ridge was easy, but the mountain top was rocky and undulating with several false summits, making for slow progress. I reached the summit just before my turn around time, ready to place a register. But the Southern AZ Hiking Club had beat me to it...21 years earlier :lol:, so I added my name to the scores of others. I stuck around for awhile, enjoying the amazing view, before reluctantly retreating from the summit to beat the coming darkness. On the way down, I ducked into the Escapule Mine for a brief exploration. Got back to the truck after dark, then drove back over Middlemarch Road through the heart of the Dragoons. What a great evening!

(Edit) Check out the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQyltuVc98g
Black Diamond Peak
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Today, I chose to explore something new in the Dragoons, while driving over Middlemarch Pass on a beautiful winter's afternoon. I hiked up FR 4393 to its end at the Escapule Mine, where I peeked inside its tunnel, which appeared to go quite aways into the mountain. From there, I went a short distance to the saddle on the west side of Black Diamond Peak, to scout out a possible route to the summit. Saw some cougar tracks in the snow. Being too late in the day to try for the summit, I instead followed an old mine trail around the peak just west of Black Diamond (Silver Cloud Peak). The views were incredible, and I got to watch the sunset on Black Diamond's west face. I hope to return when I have more time.

Permit $$
None

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


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
WEST ACCESS: (recommended) Take US 80 (south) from Benson. Turn left onto Middlemarch Road (one mile north of Tombstone), and follow it for 13.5 miles to Forest Road 4393 on the right. Turn right onto Forest Road 4393, and there is a good parking spot almost immediately, where the road forks. Take the right fork of Forest Road 4393 and start hiking. If you have a high clearance vehicle, you can drive farther up Forest Road 4393, but parking and turnaround spots become limited. EAST ACCESS : (Warning: can get very muddy after wet weather!) From Tucson, take I-10 east to US 191. Turn right (south) and drive approximately 20 miles south to Ghost Town Trail road on the right (just before the highway curves west). Turn right onto Ghost Town Trail and drive 1.1 miles to the 4-way intersection at the old town of Pearce. Turn right onto Pearce Road (Forest Road 345) and continue west, eventually staying left as the road becomes Middlemarch Road (still Forest Road 345). Continue over Middlemarch Pass (highpoint of the road) and arrive at Forest Road 4393 (signed) on the left, about 11.2 miles past the old town of Pearce.
page created by PrestonSands on Mar 05 2010 1:42 am
3 pack - loud whistle
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