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Harquahala Summit, AZ

no permit
276 68 2
Guide 68 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Parker
3.8 of 5 by 29
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,322 feet
Elevation Gain 3,353 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,380 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 27.1
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2019-05-28 gummo
12  2019-01-02 Jim_H
2  2018-08-10 Peter_Medal
15  2018-01-28 DarthStiller
6  2018-01-28 wallyfrack
9  2017-11-26 chumley
5  2017-11-26 joebartels
11  2017-05-07 ThirstyLizard
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
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   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:21am - 6:32pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by Ksorensen


Harquahala Smithsonian Observatory was open from 1920 to 1925. This was never a telescope site. Scientist lived atop the mountain and collected data to assist in forecasting weather. The site contained a theodolite for measuring solar activity among many other interesting devices. After five years of use the operation was moved to California. The summit lies just outside the 1990 established Harquahala Mountains Wilderness. It is possible to follow a 10.5 mile 4X4 road to the summit. Options to connect down the east side into West Fork Sunset Canyon look interesting on map but who knows.
06/24/01 -joe

Now read on, Ksorensen has contributed a mini summary.

The first two miles are a steady but relatively easy climb; the last three miles are pretty tough, though the trail is wide and easy to follow the entire way. The hike is quiet and desolate except for at the very summit, where flocks of Canadian snow birds drive up in SUVs and Quads to sip Milwaukee's Beast and enjoy the view. Fortunately the winter visitor approach is from the south side of the mountains and one will not encounter them until at the very peak. This is a difficult but rewarding hike...even my dogs were pretty worn out. We ran into a Western Patchnose Snake but saw no other wildlife.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2002-02-18 Ksorensen
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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 of 23 deeper Triplog Reviews
Harquahala Summit
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Enjoyed this hike 7 years ago and it's holding steady. More saguaros and desert flora than recalled was a bonus.

Noticed a whopping 2 catclaw bushes heading up. Got a dandy half inch gash on my shin heading down. Apparently there are a few more. Only an issue if not paying

Along with a shockingly well cut trail the distant views grab your attention. Mountain ranges with long ridgelines compliment the ultra flat desert floor.
Harquahala Summit
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I forgot how much I like this trail. It's just impressively constructed and is in fantastic shape for a trail that can't get too much use. I even carried clippers to cut back any brush but never once took them out!

About half the hike up was shaded and it was very pleasant. There was even a short stretch of shade on the way down due to the low angle of the sun right now. It was supposed to be in the low 80s today but it didn't feel too warm at any time until standing by the truck at the end of the hike.

Thanks to the BLM (presumably) for keeping this one maintained.
Harquahala Summit
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The positive's: I was able to move quickly, I have another desert summit under my belt, and I enjoyed some (overcast) views of features from Castle Dome to the Four Peaks, and a lot in between. I had the summit to myself, and it was very quiet, despite the road and evidence of it's popularity on weekends.

Negative's: I found the gray, drab and shrubby nature of the mountain to be unappealing, often ugly except for the Saguaros down low, and the overcast may have made this more so. I would have preferred a sunny day. It took forever to get to it, and I almost could have gone to the Kofa. There isn't much life out here, despite the pamphlet for mountain lion awareness. Very few birds, and this made the gray day seem that much more dead.

Conclusion: Compared to Big Horn which I want to hike again this season or in the Spring, I won't revisit this for a while. It isn't bad, but even though I enjoyed the summit, I feel there are better hikes that are easier to drive to.
Harquahala Summit
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What a treat to have such a trail out in the middle of nowhere to such a fantastic destination! We went in looking for certain succulent plants and were not disappointed. Only point of contention was the weather, as we hiked up into a wet misty cloud with some pretty fierce winds and temps in the 30s at the top. Oh well, once we were back down to 4500' or so, conditions improved markedly. As it was, we had driven my Jeep to the top of Harquahala a few days prior, so only felt a need to hike up to the ridgeline where the trail looks down upon the road at roughly 5100'. Trail is a little on the rocky side, but not complaining -- just really thankful that it's there at all! I'm sure we'll be back before too long.
Harquahala Summit
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Met up with Lee for a nice hike to Harquahala. We met at the Happy Valley Park and Ride and headed across the Carefree Hwy and on through Wickenburg. The drive was roughly an hour and half and we arrived to a very cold trailhead and started hiking.

We set a consistent pace and made the climb up taking a brief break at a saddle roughly 500 ft below the summit. My back was covered in sweat and the cold wind was very uncomfortable. From there we climbed up to the summit and took a lunch where we ate and enjoyed the views. I noticed they replaced all the informational signs. They were vacant last year. After lunch we packed up and blew down the trail back to Lee's vehicle. This was a nice hike and is well worth your time. Thanks Lee for driving.
Harquahala Summit
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To paraphrase the great Teva Joe, there were hints of the White Tanks and the lower Rincons on this hike. Plus a good pair of pruning shears would have come in handy.

Could not have asked for a better day for hiking, not too hot, not too cold. No wind and a good chunk of the hike was in the shade. Started the hike with a burro to greet us and welcome us to the area. Made good time up to the summit and hung out for a bit while I dealt with a wardrobe malfunction. Checked the summit register and discovered Chumley & crew had been up there the day before.

So have another county highpoint knocked off my list and got a chance to explore another corner of Arizona that I've never been to.
Harquahala Summit
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The plan came together on Friday night. The four of us met at the happy valley park and ride and were on our way a little after 7am. We started hiking before 9am and made our way up the trail. I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find a good trail with a steady grade all the way to the summit. Once up top we had a look around and then detoured over to the east. From there we returned to the summit and ate lunch and then proceeded back down the trail. The miles poured by and we were on our way home by mid afternoon. Thanks Chumley for driving and thanks Bruce for putting together a fun route.
Harquahala Summit
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Harquahala and more
Got a last minute invite to join 9L and pals on a county high-point quest. This one surprised me. I wasn't expecting it to be nearly as cool as it was.

Pouring rain as we left the valley, but the drive west dried out and resulted in magical clouds and fog shrouding peaks across the desert. The Harq summit was socked in when we arrived, but as we made our way up, it cleared. Up top the clouds intermittently reduced visibility to under 100-feet, but then opened again providing dramatic views of the peaks and valleys around us. Temps stayed in the upper 40s most of the day, but with intermittent dense fog, warm sun, and occasionally a chilly breeze, we all went through more wardrobe combinations than the average runway model.

We were a bit frustrumated that the La Paz/Maricopa monument on the ridge a mile east of the summit was only a pipe (though there were also remnants of a USGS Instrument structure which once stood there). There was no concrete frustrum adorned with nice plaques. Oh well...there were others nearby to search for, and Kyle was excited for the adventure.

Also. 9L really doesn't enjoy driving on roads that aren't paved. Even as a passenger. I think his Urea dripped a little bit. :scared:

Note: Harquahala is derived from the Native American term "Aha qua hala" meaning "water there is high up". It is correctly pronounced however you want. I prefer "Hark Valhalla", since it links the native American origins of the southwest to my own Norse ancestry.
Harquahala Summit
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Harquahala and Frustums
Last minute change in plans.

We had a little rain on the drive there, but skys were mainly sunny once we left Wickenburg.

I'd forgotten how nice of a hike this is. It is starting to get a bit catclawy in spots, but long pants cure that. Temps were a cool 47 in the shade to start, with the peak hidden in the clouds. The scattered clouds on the day left interesting shadows in the valley below.

When we hit the top, a cloud rolled in to cover the peak, It got a bit cold and windy. After a search for the peak marker (found 2 reference markers), we determined it was among the missing. Chums had planned a route to get us over to a Frustum. The La Paz / Maricopia County line. After a little searching, 9L found it up on the ridge.

Interestingly enough, it was placed in 1918, and showed we were at the border of Yuma and Maricopa Counties. We were actually at the La Paz and Maricopa border. After a little research, we found that La Paz succeeded from Yuma County in 1983 or 65 years after this was placed.

Back to the peak and we were walking in the clouds again. On the day we went from shorts and short sleeves, to Jackets, winter hats and gloves, numerous times.

We ate lunch at the top of Harquahala while the sun warmed us for a bit and when the clouds hit again, made our way down the mountain

Video from atop Harquahala Peak :next:

On the way out, we drove across Rt 60 (I had vivid memories of a previous trip on that side of the Rd) on Urea Ranch Rd, to go search out 2 more county markers. We found both. Kyle get so excited around Frustums that he talks in a high pitch Girlie voice when around them.

I hit 1,000 miles for the year on this hike and I was reinforced once again that I still hate barbed wire...
Harquahala Summit
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Kelly and I threw out a few possibilities for a Memorial Day hike and settled on this one. Since it was going to get warm, we met at 0430 to begin the drive out west and try to get an early start hiking. It's a full two hour drive to the trailhead from the east valley. I had done this hike about three years ago in July. :o

I remembered I liked the hike but had forgotten half of the details. We started out seeing a very excited diamondback who wouldn't stop rattling. There are a couple mining camps and a bunch of mines enroute to the summit. The trail is very well built and easy to follow. Nice steady grade.

All the informative signs on the summit are gone. Many were faded so bad you couldn't read them three years ago. The observatory building no longer has a lock on the door although it is still surrounded by fencing. We were able to sneak a peek inside. A lot of work has been done to preserve it.

On the descent we went off trail to check out some mines. Interesting but none of the shafts are open. We gave up on getting to a large mine after the gnats and terrain and temperature made us reconsider. Mostly those pesky gnats! It was nice to get back to the truck and hide from them.

Interesting challenging hike. As always, great to hike with the gecko. :)

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From Wickenburg corner of US93 & US 60 follow US 60 west 40 miles to FR(I'm not sure), hang a left and follow 2.2 miles to the trailhead at the wilderness boundary.

Ksorensen added: Exactly 40 miles west of the intersection of 93 and 60 in Wickenburg, turn left onto a dirt road. There is a lone, small marker that says 'trail' on this road. Follow the road to the nice parking lot provided by BLM.

2009-11-29 rdmciver writes: The dirt road is between Mile Markers 71 and 70 on the south side of the highway. The first trail marker (typical BLM brown plastic with black letters on white background) is at the left side of the gate. About 10 yards inside the gate is a second marker.
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