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The Best Hikes in Eagletail Mountains Wilderness

73 Triplog Reviews in the Eagletail Mountains Wilderness
Most recent of 24 deeper Triplog Reviews
15.3 mi • 1,574 ft aeg
Wanted to take a few friends out for some arch fun and eagletail arch was settled upon. I wasn't very keen on the 10 mile out and back slog from off Centennial with a knee injury so we opted for the condensed version.
We drove out to the eagletail wilderness trailhead. I was very surprised to see 2 vehicles about a mile past the gate but no humans. Off we went approaching from the opposite direction than in the past. Excellent views from this end. Scrambled up to the arch and had a bit of fun climbing around and retraced our steps out. Perfect short hike for my recovering knees.
8.73 mi • 1,229 ft aeg
My wife and I made a first trip to the Eagletails with a couple "guides". We walked the Ben Avery trail around Courthouse Butte but then mainly went cross country through the nice open desert toward Indian Springs.

We started finding petroglyphs as we got nearer the Springs and when we got to that area we toured the cliffbands looking at thousands of petroglyphs. These are mainly of the archaic style meaning they are simple geometric patterns probably a couple thousands years old. The bedrock in the creek bottom here had many mortar holes left by these people.

We walked a ways further down the wash and noticed more glyphs that looked newer, probably from later inhabitants.

We saw four small deer go over the hill on the way back - the wildlife management and watering is working here. Nice area, the drive in was no trouble for my Subaru.
2.28 mi • 1,017 ft aeg
I've always been enamored by the Eagletails. When you drive past them on I-10 they just stand out and seek to be explored! The namesake peak is a triple peak, with each "feather" being a technical climb. Last year I visited the highpoint on the northern half of the range. Courthouse Rock is an impressive feature worth visiting, and there are some impressive walls of historic rock art here.

Today I was looking to check out access from the south side of this rarely-visited range. This is the easiest access I have found thusfar. There's paved road to just short of the wilderness boundary followed by some incredibly nice dirt. Not everybody would choose to, but I could drive a sedan all the way to the end of the road where I began my hike. It's mostly smooth with just a handful of shallow wash crossings.

After finding the "Eagle" benchmark last year, I decided to check out the "Double Eagle" today. After my earlier hike, I was trying to get to the starting point by 4pm. Though I had only penciled in a track I knew it was only about a mile and under a thousand feet so I figured 90 minutes of sunlight would suffice for a round trip.

From the end of the road, I contemplated the logical drainage route from looking at the topo map, but having seen it on the drive in, I opted for the slanted cut up the face of the mountain farther north. It looked like scrambling fun, with the caveat of not knowing if it would continue or cliff out around the corner. The scramble up was fun and when I reached the top, I was happy to learn it did not totally cliff out. I did have to backtrack a short distance and drop down a bit into a drainage to make the final ascent toward the peak.

The geology here is incredible. The rock is totally different from Saddle Mountain just a few miles away across the valley. Numerous small caves, alcoves, and overhangs covered the hillsides and the rock formations were jagged and dramatic. It didn't take long to get to the top of the drainage where I was surprised to find a wide basin below the Double Eagle summit. Here I followed a well-traveled sheep trail that ascended while traversing around the basin.

There were probably routes to the summit from the north or northeast, but I continued east and ascended on a pretty easy slope before heading back west toward the high point. There are several blocks of rock on the summit and I had to drop down to the south briefly before pushing to the summit after making a full "S" loop. It's not tough to figure out when you're there.

The summit had wooden debris from survey structures and a tall pole with a bunch of wire from an old height of light. The benchmarks are intact and the view of Eagletail Peak is awesome. To the southwest, the Castle Dome Mountains dominated the view. I signed the register, and made the terrible decision to descend a different way than I had ascended.

With daylight waning and no idea what I would find, this could have left me backtracking in the dark. In the end it turned out ok, but I know better than to make poor decisions like this. The upper part of the drainage was ok, but thick with growth so I traversed on the slope above. Until I reached the big drop. I scrambled down a few levels until I reached a huge dryfall that would be totally impossible for me to get down. I found a route I might be able to downclimb but I was not remotely happy about it and decided to look elsewhere not wanting to retrace my steps to the summit and head back the way I had come up.

Thankfully after a short distance of backtracking I was able to find a route that descended around the huge fall. Below the fall, I realized that the downclimb I had contemplated would have been a terrible decision, with a large overhung drop at the very bottom. Glad I didn't end up there. The drainage from here down was steep and filled with car-sized boulders, but it wasn't long before I was on the desert floor and heading back to my truck just in time for the last light of sun on the surrounding peaks.

I'd say the drainage I came down is the easier route, but the way I went up is so much more interesting and scenic. The loop as I did it is actually how I would recommend it to others unless you don't care for the scrambling required going up the northern slope/cut.

I may have to come back out here. It's super easy to get to, amazing geology and access to the Eagletail Wilderness.
7.3 mi • 850 ft aeg
Headed west hoping to avoid the rain... worked out great: no rain once we got to the Eagletails :) saw two javelina on the way. Lots of water and a few of the washes across the road were flowing but all were okay to cross.

We took the Ben Avery trail to Indian Springs and admired the petroglyphs on both sides of the hill and some more a little into the canyon. On the return we took the short detour to AZGFD water tank. Saw a mountain lion monitoring camera at the tank, Great trip to start of 2017.
7.51 mi • 561 ft aeg
After a day exploring the northern end of the Eagletails, I decided to hit the tourist circuit. It's an easy hike out to the historic Indian Spring area and the rock art does not disappoint. Looks like the spring box at Indian Spring has dried up permanently, but I was happy to find water in a narrow slot of bedrock in the side drainage just below the springbox. I'm sure it dries up in summer, but I think it also holds water for a surprisingly long time. It is 100% shaded.

Detoured to 726 on the way back, another AZGFD engineered wildlife watering tank. Busy day in the wilderness -- saw two other people. No sheep today. :( Great area.
13.23 mi • 2,885 ft aeg
Triple Eye Eagle
My goal was Eagle 3186, the benchmark on the highest peak in the northern Eagletail Mountains. I'd always looked at this range while driving on I-10 west to California, and was happy to finally explore here. Most who visit begin near Courthouse Rock and the Ben Avery trail on the east, but I chose to start on the northwest, at the end of YE029 off the pipeline road. It's about 3.5 miles to Triple Eye Catchment along an old roadbed. About 2 miles in you catch a glimpse of the first of the triple eyes. Another half mile along the road and you can see all three. I had seen the name on the map, but didn't really know what to expect. A quick web search hadn't netted any details. As a result, I was quite intrigued when I saw it. So much so, that I decided I should climb up to it. But I didn't want to get too distracted from my goal, so I pressed on and decided I could climb Triple Eye on the way back if time permitted.

I continued to Triple Eye Catchment at the end of the old road, a fascinating structure of engineering built by AZGFD for watering wildlife. Probably the most extensive project like this I've ever encountered. I smiled for all the game cameras ;) and pressed on uphill toward the peak.

Along my planned "best-route" option, I saw a large arch up a side drainage and decided to check it out. It was great! I ended up having lunch here. I was slowly learning that the Eagletails are absolutely loaded with natural arches and windows! My arch side-trip made me choose a different path to ascend, and I'm glad I did! My approach to a small ridge kept me hidden from four mighty rams that were foraging in a draw just below the crest. It wasn't long before my BO notified them to my presence, and they ran a good distance before taking a breather to curiously look back at me. I knew the Eagletails had a population of sheep, so I was very excited to be able to encounter this herd! :y:

Climbing ever higher, I was surprised that the next wildlife I spotted were four deer. They too became aware of my presence and ran off quickly.

Eagle 3186 is protected on three sides by 100+ foot cliffs, but I was able to traverse a moderate slope to the west and ascend into a small bowl southwest of the peak (oh, and another arch). From here, I decided to head straight up for the peak, a solid class-3 endeavor. Nearing the summit, I had to head around to the east before making the final 20 foot climb to the summit. There is a ton of room and great views in all directions. The register was placed 20 years ago, and there were perhaps 12 entries, including all the usual suspects.

On the return, I descended the drainage toward Dead Deer tank, another natural pothole aided by AZGFD construction. And another arch. :roll:

I was down to a half liter of water, and with 6 miles or so to get back to the truck, I decided to drink and filter from a pool in the bedrock. I was surprised to find such pools in these dry and desolate mountains. It has to have been many weeks since it last rained here.

The extra water allowed me the luxury of not heading directly back to the truck, but ascending the peak of Triple Eye with an attempt to view the arches up close. This is a rugged, vertical mass of rock and I ascended the drainage to the west before climbing the ridge to the arches. I was unable to get above them, but by taking a route on the north side, I was able to clearly see the westernmost arch. I made a solid attempt to climb it, but turned back due to being alone. In reality, the class-4 ascent would not be particularly difficult, but tired, at the end of a long hot day, and no support, I decided it wasn't worth the risk.

The center arch is not visible from anywhere on the north side, though the opening where it is can be seen. I went around to the east side and caught a glimpse of the third eye, though this one may be the most precarious to attempt to reach. With sunset nearing, I contemplated dropping directly into the drainage east of the eyes, but decided to head back to the west side of the eyes before taking a less-than optimal route back toward the road to try to shave some distance. It would have been easier to descend the same drainage I had come up.

All-in-all, a fantastic day, and an area that deserves further exploration!
10.77 mi • 784 ft aeg
Had not been hiking much in the last two weeks due to a family medical situation. Finally got out today, despite refrigerator needing attention. I was starting to feel bloated, so I had to get out anyway, and thanx to my wife staying behind I was able to. :kf:
Superstition Wilderness Loop Hike
Superstition Wilderness Loop Hike

When we travel west on I-10, we usually stop at the rest stop west of Tonopah. I've never had occasion to use the stalls until today. :o It was so vile, I turned around at the Salome Rd exit to hit the east bound stop on the opposite side of I-10. It was marginally better. Luckily, I had a large bottle of alcohol cleanser in my emergency kit, and I liberally swabbed the seat. After I was done, I repeated the liberal swabbing on my nether regions to hopefully kill off any cooties. I really feel for you gals that have to use those! Still, it was not as bad as the outhouse on the Cree reservation in northern Canada, nor the latrine at the Pakistani infantry battalion in Bosnia. :scared:

Now heading east, instead of doubling back on I-10, I got off at Tonopah, taking Indian School Rd. -- you read that correctly -- west to the Salome Rd. exit, where I followed the default driving instructions to the trailhead. The easy dirt ends after seven miles, at the first wilderness sign, which currently also has a port-a-potty. Wish I'd know that earlier. :| Couldn't be any worse than the rest stop. From there, I split right on the pipeline road. For a SUV, it was no problem, though speed generally needs to be kept to 20 mph or less. Cars could do it, but watch out for sand in the washes and sometimes small ledges entering/exitting the washes. There is a graffiti'd tank at 3 miles, after which the road actually gets smoother. At four miles, at the second wilderness sign, turn left on the trailhead road. The road curves around a small hill. If I were driving a car, I would stop just short of the hill. It's only another half mile to the trailhead / wilderness boundary / third wilderness sign.

I went clockwise around Courthouse Rock, checking out a "rain apron" (learned a new word), and several old mines. Only found one identifiable shaft, and it was mostly collapsed in. The ocotillo on the east side of Courthouse Rock were flowering more abundantly than those on the west of the formation. Some were stunning. There were some small purple flowers, but mostly it was brittlebush and creosote providing what color there was. There were no clouds, and no shade. The jeep trail I was on began curving away from my intended route (wrabbitdog's uploaded route), so I began cutting west across washes towards the "official" route. The washes are not big, but the constant up & down is slow & tiring. I would not have wanted to continue on wrabbitdog's route. Eventually, I found a cairned foot trail, following that the rest of the way to the petroglyph zone.

Not sure where, exactly, the petroglyphs were, I first checked out a small canyon a few hundred yards northeast of the small, dark hill. I found one small panel, but more importantly, I found shade. I ate lunch and cooled off. Then I began working my way towards the small hill. I started on it east edge, working counter-clockwise. I began encountering extensive panels on its northwest corner, and the petroglyphs continued around to the southern side. Despite looking for snakes, I failed to see one which gave me a "Hey, I'm over here, please don't come closer rattle." (As opposed to a angrier sound, it just felt more like a friendly warning -- if that makes sense? -- and perhaps from a smaller snake.) Whoever did the petroglyphs really liked their checkerboard shapes. I also found some samples from the, presumably, 1920s and 30s. I then checked, with no success, a half mile up the canyon southeast of the small hill.

Hot flashing once I stood up too quick, it was time to head back. I followed the old jeep trail, following it left (northwest) where it crossed the wash, sloping up. It appeared to be curling away from the trailhead's direction, so I dropped back into the wash, following it a bit, before picking up another cairned old jeep trail back to the trailhead. (Turns out, the old jeep trail I started back on, and the one I finished on, are the same.) It was 91° when I finished.

I used some ice in a sandwich bag to ice down my sun burnt neck & head as I drove back on the pipeline road. When I got back to Harquhala Valley Rd., rather than turning left towards I-10, I continued east on paved Courthouse Rd. After a brief stop in Tonopah, I stayed on that same road, and Baseline Rd., all the way into Buckeye. Wierdest thing all day was spotting a taxi (!) 12 miles west of Tonopah on that little country road. :-s

Video: youtu.be/6p3C_xreSms
8.68 mi • 380 ft aeg
Ben Avery-Indian Spring / Courthouse circuit
We live in Alaska and my wife and I left the kids with friends and headed down to AZ for a long weekend. We stayed in Tonopah at the El Dorado Hot Springs, which was pretty cool - a bit pricey, but filled to the brim with hot mineral water and stories about other guests and the 'volunteers' running the place. One of the nice parts was that we were only 10 miles east on I-10 from the road to the Ben Avery Trailhead.

The description on the main page to get to the trailhead was perfect. There was no way we would have found the trailhead without these great directions. We had a Jeep Liberty rental car, and we got to the trailhead pretty easily. There were a few sketchy parts on the pipeline access road, and we probably would have been in deep doodoo if we had run into trouble with the rental car, but I'm used to driving on poor roads so we didn't have any problems. The other gravel roads up to the first Eagle Tail sign and the pipeline road were in great condition.

The trail was in great shape. We fairly quickly wound up in the wash about a mile or so into the trail, and after deciding that it wasn't as much fun as walking on the beach (because there was no ocean), decided to go overland. Because we had the route map on my cellphone, going off trail was no problem and worked out GREAT for us! The only problem with the mobile app was that I didn't realize I would have to cache the map to view it when we were out there without cell service. It wasn't a huge deal, though, since we still had the GPS route on the phone, so it would have been absolutely impossible to get lost. Having the GPS route was enough even without the topographic map.

The hiking was very easy - we had great weather, with temps around 66 and good sun (we really need our vitamin D from the sun during the winter)

We found the large wall with petroglyphs before getting to the spring and decided to have lunch. We wandered around the face before walking around to the right and up behind the large wall. We wandered around on top of the hill before walking down the other side where the spring was. It was a bit of a climb to get down and then up into the spring which is not as hard to find as I had presumed. There is an old signpost in the wash that probably led to the spring.

After taking more pictures, we headed back towards the trailhead, and decided to again avoid the wash. We walked up the valley directly opposite the spring and hugged the side of the mountain as we paralleled the trail which was in the wash. We found a few large rocks with more petroglyphs that probably aren't seen by many folks due to their distance from the trail.

Having some wilderness experience, we spread out and wandered the hillside on the way back to avoid making a trail. I do wonder about the fence that ran perpendicular to the trail here. We also crossed this fence in the wash on the way out. I presume that there are still some nearby cattle, and the fence is there to protect some resource, but was surprised to find a fairly well-maintained fence in the middle of a lower-48 Wilderness area. Since we're talking about Wilderness, I did want to bring up the topic of ethics and access here. I am in a quandary, since I typically consider myself more of a 'purist'. IMHO, Wilderness areas shouldn't have designated trails and even this website and ability to share routes and specific notes runs the risk of causing long term damage to specific areas. I was VERY happy to see no recent trash (we did find and remove a few VERY OLD soda cans that had probably been there long enough to be considered relics) and minimal graffiti near the petroglyphs (although any graffiti is too much) I greatly appreciate the ability to share stories, routes, and notes, and hope that others who read this description share my desire to keep this land as 'wild' as it can be for as long as possible. The fact that an area as wild and beautiful as this is very untrammeled, despite being so close to a major city, is a true testament to the outdoor ethics of Arizonans! GREAT JOB! I only wish we could train my fellow Alaskans to treat our land with as much respect as I observed in AZ.

Once we got close to Courthouse rock, we decided that we had enough time to circumnavigate the rock and avoid the trail on the way back to the trailhead. This was a pretty easy add-on and gave a neat perspective of this great mountain. Check out our route if you're interested. We took a ton of breaks along the way and the whole trip took 5 1/2 hours and wound up being almost 9 miles. The entire time after leaving the pavement we saw a total of two other people, and they were driving a side-by-side ATV on the pipeline road near 557th and Centennial Road (you'll know the intersection when you get there). We saw some planes, and on our way out a camper near the small stock tank near the trailhead, but other than the fence we didn't see any improvements and had a great Wilderness experience!

Wildlife seen:
Mule deer on the far side of courthouse rock
tarantula south of the trail at about the midway point
underwater snails in Indian Spring
2 Cows in the valley just North of the spring and petroglyphs
Tons of little lizards
7 mi • 460 ft aeg
It never fails to amaze me where one can hike one Sunday and the following Sunday hiking in a world apart. A week ago we were in a freezing hike in Washington and then a week later hiking in one of our favorite deserts. I've been wanting to do a loop in the Eagletails to check out a couple of canyons for future hikes. I found some abandoned roads on GE that we could follow into the wilderness section of the mountains. One appeared to be much older that connected with the one we were on. Definitely not Jeep wide enough. So another trip out to check out a canyon......darn!
4.9 mi • 366 ft aeg
Took advantage of yesterday's extended monsoon cloudiness to make an early morning trek out to the Eagletail Mountains wildnerness - a vastly underestimated desert playground so close to the west valley. Instead of the usual mode - grinding out lots of miles on a well marked trail - we used this opportunity for some "desert time". Off trail exploring, wandering and generally just enjoying time away from the city.

We went in on the southeastern side of the Eagletails and then began exploring. A little bit of up and down on the mountainsides, nothing too serious. I did enjoy the site of 5 different natural arches, the best one being at +33.375146, -113.297334. It is the arch shown in the attached picture. Two more, very small arches lie less than 50 feet away. A fourth sits about 80 yards to the west. And a final fifth one is visible on the south side of the old jeep trail high on the rocks perhaps 1/4 mile to the east.

Not many miles today, but the steep, loose climbing up and down definitely have my legs talking a little bit.
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