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Castle Dome Peak - KOFA
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mini location map2015-12-19
42 by photographer avatarJim_H
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Castle Dome Peak - KOFASouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 19 2015
Jim_H
Hiking7.00 Miles 2,089 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   1.56 mph
2,089 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break15 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Leaving Cunningham I headed south as the sun set and I started in on the dirt road after dark. I passed the museum, the mine property and a few washes before locating an area I wanted to camp. It was a nice spot. This was good, as while the road is more or less fine, a few wash crossings were something to slow down to go through, and about 1/2 mile past my camp there is a wash that requires a jeep or higher clearance 4x4, which is to say it is not Outback friendly. I estimated this wash to be about 2 miles from the actual TH. Had I encountered it the night before, I may have foolishly gone into it.

I stopped by my impassable wash and walked roughly 1/4 mile to a wash with a sign in it. Here is one of several areas where the hike description and directions need updating. This is one of several washes with no vehicle signs. The first one a good mile back is after a curve to the right. This particular one has the road run by it perpendicular to it, with no real curve. My confusion came from human tracks that went up it, but died out, possibly because the prior hikers realized they were not in the right wash. There is only one where a cairn is built near the sign and people have scratched, "Castle Dome Trailhead", on to the sign.

I quickly realized I was not in the correct wash, and headed cross country back to the road. I found the correct TH soon after, with a red pickup truck I saw drive past my camp earlier in the day, parked by the sign. The correct TH is at the top of a horse shoe shaped curve or Omega shaped curve, and has a small cairn by the sign, as well as Castle Dome Trailhead written on the sign. However, because the road curves to the east, the TH is at the east side of this curve.

Starting up wash I followed the cairns and some obvious heavy use tracks, and I also noted instructions on the TH sign to bear left at one point (which is about 200' past the start) which is marked by a cairn. Once in the correct wash, one need only follow the heavy tracks up stream for 1.6 miles and look for stone arrows in the wash. If you reach the narrowing and eroded sediment cliffs, you went too far. The official (bot generated?) gps actually has the correct route, which surprised me when I got home. I am not a gps user, so I can not be a lazy hiker when solo. As such, I noticed the arrows, and was happy I did. These arrows could probably be larger, as at least 2 other parties (this day) missed them.

(I went) up the side trail off the wash and continue to follow an obvious and highly cairned route on a trail that almost looks to be constructed, but isn't. If you miss the cairned trail and attempt the ridges that extend out from the peak toward the wash, I understand those can be very loose and exposed. This cairned trail is really a very good social route and it takes you to the bottom of one of the steep faces of CD. Hike along the bottom, and head in the direction the cairns take you. You never need to do more than some easy scrambling, and eventually you summit. You'll never cliff out, or come in any real danger if you stay on route.

I arrived on the summit, enjoyed the hazy views, and head back with a partner who came up one of the bad ridges. Montana Jim, a tourist in a 5th wheel who saw the peak and just had to summit. He climbs normally, so isn't the typical 5th wheeler in winter.

Hiking out was fun and easy. The descent on the social trail should never place you in danger, is not loose any longer to require sitting, nor will you cliff out- ever. If you do, you are off route. This hike and scramble has been done by locals so often, it is very defined. Anything less, and you are off route.
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