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Eagletail Arches and Petroglyphs, AZ
mini location map2021-01-02
30 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Eagletail Arches and Petroglyphs, AZ 
Eagletail Arches and Petroglyphs, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 02 2021
Hiking11.97 Miles 1,134 AEG
Hiking11.97 Miles   7 Hrs   55 Mns   1.97 mph
1,134 ft AEG   1 Hour   51 Mns Break
1st trip
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I hiked in the Eagletails for the first time six days ago and enjoyed it so much that I decided to come back for the second straight weekend, this time to visit the "touristy" area at Ben Avery Trail/Indian Spring Petroglyphs and to check out a few of the off-trail arches marked on the topo maps. We accessed the trailhead via El Paso Natural Gas Access Road again, this time from farther east. The road was rougher in that area than it is farther to the west--probably not suitable for passenger cars/low clearance vehicles from this this side. The dirt between El Paso and the trailhead was in better shape except for one rough, rocky stretch near 1731' that others have noted in trip logs...if someone managed to get a low clearance vehicle in that far, they'd probably want to park before that last stretch and walk the rest of the way.

The parking lot was empty when we arrived, and we had a nice sunrise as we started down the trail/jeep road past Courthouse Rock. We left the trail just past Courthouse and headed southeast toward the first arch. As others had noted in trip logs, there a lot of washes to cross (and part of the official trail follows one of the washes for a while) so the pace was a little slower even though it looked like a relatively flat route across open desert.

The first arch was located up along the ridgeline--it looked like it would be a fun climb up there, but we opted to view it from below and give ourselves more time to explore the area. From below the arch, we could see another natural window in a big, unique rock formation to the east that looked a little like an "okay" emoji (👌). From that point, we headed back across the washes and connected with the Ben Avery Trail toward Indian Spring.

The geology approaching Indian Spring was impressive and varied, and near the spring we found the first wall of dark rock and scattered boulders that were covered with hundreds of petroglyphs and included drawings of big horn sheep, turtles, snakes, and various symbols. We spent quite a bit of time exploring all the impressive panels spread across the walls and boulders before continuing to Indian Spring.

There were more petroglyphs on the boulders between the first set and the spring. As expected, the spring was bone dry, and we didn't initially see petroglyphs in that area, but after a closer look, they were all over the the walls and boulders on the south side of the spring--a lot more animals and symbols...and, unfortunately, some modern graffiti mixed in. In one area we noticed what looked like a small cliff dwelling wall with mortared rocks built up on a small ledge on the natural wall near some of the petroglyphs. It was only ~ 3' x 3' in size and built flush against the rock wall, so it didn't look like it was a shelter or storage, and it wasn't clear what purpose it may have served.

We wanted to make sure we had time to check out the other arch, but every time we started moving that way, we'd notice more petroglyphs and climb back up toward the walls to check them out--it was an impressive area. We finally tore ourselves away and hiked west toward the arch. As we got closer, we realized it was a double arch, and it was an easy approach up a hillside.

We stopped for lunch there and admired the fantastic landscape all around us. We could see the jagged peaks of the Kofa Mountains to the west, Eagle 3186 in front of us, and Eagletail Peak, Anvil Mountain, and the other peaks of the Eagletails to the southeast, with Indian Spring in the foreground. The arches were impressive, and there was a tiny third arch, about four inches high, off to the side on the rock formation with the larger arches. [ youtube video ]

Before we started back, I checked out a few alcoves to the west, then we made a straight shot across the washes toward Courthouse Rock to complete the loose figure-eight loop. Like our last visit, we didn't see much wildlife today, just a few large black-tailed jackrabbits on the way out. We finished with ~12 miles of hiking, and there were three or four vehicles near the trailhead when we returned, confirming that this is the "crowded" part of the Eagletails, though we still didn't see anyone during the hike. I'd hoped we might be able to try climbing 3186, but like the previous visit, we ran out of time, so I still have more reasons to come back. This was an interesting historical site with some interesting off-trail features and a nice hike to kick off 2021.

dry Indian Spring Dry Dry
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout
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