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Maricopa Peak - Sand Tank Mountains
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mini location map2014-05-17
7 by photographer avatarOutlander
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Maricopa Peak - Sand Tank MountainsSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking7.00 Miles 2,500 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles   8 Hrs      1.17 mph
2,500 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break35 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to hike Maricopa Peak and check out a trail through the Javelina Mountains.

The Javelina Mountains are a major landmark within the Sonoran Desert National Monument. They form a natural barrier to cross country travel, diverting the flow of traffic to either end of the six mile range, the west side in particular. However, there is a middle way, a pass that cuts through the center that is rumored to be a dedicated route for high-value contraband.

Maricopa Peak has a moderate grade on the north face and is fairly easy to hike. Rocks and shrubs are few, road access is good, and there is an excellent place to camp near the summit, a flat spot that doubles as a helicopter landing pad. The mountain has relatively deep topsoil on the north side, with jojoba, banana yucca, and canotia bush predominating in the higher elevations. I did not see any mule deer or sheep in the area, but that was to be expected, as they were likely using the eastern part of the range near the AGFD water catchment.

The summer heat put a damper on things, requiring many rest breaks and consumption of mass amounts of fluids, well over two gallons. Attracted to the sweat upon my brow, a swarm of gnats and biting flies followed me throughout the day. A slight breeze would have brought relief, but alas, the air remained still. The insects were so numerous that I had to wrap a bandanna across my face to keep them out of my mouth and nose, looking like some kind of desperado. When in Rome.....

The middle pass trail was not what I had expected, but it was good to finally see it with my own eyes. After walking the entire distance, I came to the conclusion that it is nothing more than a secondary route and is seldom traveled. The trail has not been improved, and it basically follows a rock filled wash all the way down to Javelina Well. The boulders and drops are many, making the route slow and hazardous to travel. The west end of Javelina Mountain is where the bulk of the smuggling action takes place. It has two excellent foot trails cutting north. Sneak over there from Road 8015 if you ever want to see the conga lines, it will pick back up again in October.

Javelina Well is an SDNM historic site which has remnants of a pioneer dwelling and well. People used to make an honest living in this little corner of the world, ranchers and miners, but time has moved on. A colony of bees had taken up residence nearby, building a hive in a small cave next to the wash. The bees made sure that I moved out double quick.

There is still much to see and explore at Javelina Mountain and the Sand Tanks. I will be back in the fall. As usual, a long day in the heat has a way of making one appreciate the small things.
 Flora [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Jojoba
 Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Honey Bee

dry Javelina Well Dry Dry
This well has no water. It is filled with sand.
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