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Eagle 3186 - Eagletail Mountains Wilderness - 3 members in 4 triplogs have rated this an average 4.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
4 triplogs
  All Months
4 Triplogs
Dec 27 2020

 Routes 22
 Photos 1,235
 Triplogs 67

36 male
 Joined Mar 01 2018
 Chandler, AZ
Eagletail Exploration, AZ 
Eagletail Exploration, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 27 2020
Hiking12.74 Miles 1,681 AEG
Hiking12.74 Miles   7 Hrs   32 Mns   2.14 mph
1,681 ft AEG   1 Hour   34 Mns Break
1st trip
This was my first visit to the Eagletail Mountains, and it looked intriguing after doing some research on routes in the area and scanning through some of the trip logs. The geology looked interesting, crowds wouldn't be an issue out there, and something closer to Phoenix seemed like a good option with colder weather up north. We decided to start off of YE029 and mapped out a route of ~13 miles that would take us past Triple Eye, Triple Eye Catchment, some other natural arches, and, time permitting, up to Eagle 3186. The road conditions along YE029 were the wildcard--one of the official routes mentioned that portions of the road were washed out as of late October, so we figured we might have to tack on an extra three miles each way if the road wasn't passable.

YE029 isn't labeled on many maps and had no signage in person, but the first two miles were in pretty good shape before we hit a few washed out areas and decided to pull over and start hiking. That turned out to be a good thing, as we saw at least five natural arches within the first quarter mile hiking along the two-track. We reached the "end" of the road, which was little more than a wide open area and a few "Wilderness" signs blocking the two-track to motor vehicles, then continued following YE029.

Triple Eye soon came into view to the north, along with a few smaller arches along the ridgeline, and we considered climbing up for a closer look but decided to keep moving and give ourselves more time to explore. We checked out Triple Eye Catchment next--no water, but it was interesting to see all the structures and game cameras the BLM had put in place across multiple levels of the canyon. The two-track died out near the catchment, but we continued along the GPS route and stopped for lunch at a nice natural arch in some lighter-colored rocks, where the wind really picked up and blew through the window. [ youtube video ]

From there, we continued ascending toward 3186, and the views looking back to the northwest at the peaks along the horizon were fantastic. As we cleared another ridge on our way to 3186, yet another natural arch came into view near the summit, and we could see distant traffic on I-10 to the northeast. To reach 3186, we'd have to drop down into a canyon and climb back up the other side--it looked like it would be a fun scramble, but with the short winter days, we were quickly closing in on our turnaround time and needed to start back, which was disappointing. There was another arch and Dead Deer Tank that we'd hoped to check out, but that would have to wait for another day.

We decided to take a different route on the return and followed some drainages in the general direction we'd come from, and we saw some interesting rock formations in one canyon in particular. The route became too steep in narrow that spot, forcing us to backtrack briefly, but it looked like it would be a beautiful area with cascading waterfalls when it rains. We hiked down into another drainage and made our way back to YE029, where we stopped for a food break with Triple Eye in the background, then finished off the last ~3 miles back to our starting point, enjoying more views of various arches and caves along both sides of the road.

We finished with a little over 12.5 miles of hiking and saw 10+ natural arches over the course of the day--and no other people. We'd had interesting clouds most of the afternoon that turned into dark clouds by the time we finished, and we pulled off the natural gas access road on the way back to the interstate to get some pictures of the western peaks as the sun set through the clouds. We also checked out a sign that we'd noticed along the side of the road on the way in, and were glad we did--it had some good info about the geology and cultural heritage in the area. It was an odd place for a sign out in the middle of nowhere, not really located near any good parking areas to start a hike into the Eagletails. It's a very low-traffic area to begin with, and I'm guessing very few people ever bother stopping to read the sign.

We were both very pleased with the area, though we were a little disappointed that we didn't see more wildlife during the hike. Fortunately, on the drive back toward I-10 we saw two road runners and a coyote, so it wasn't a complete loss on the wildlife front :). I'm sure I've passed by the Eagletails many times en route to California over the years, but it wasn't until recently that I learned how much great stuff is hidden back in there. I definitely plan to return soon and climb up to 3186 and check out more of the routes in different parts of the range. It's always nice to find a new set of mountains to explore, and there's a lot to see here.
1 archive
Jan 09 2019

 Routes 211
 Photos 8,861
 Triplogs 243

 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Eagle 3186 & 2 Benchmarks-Eagletail Mtns Wilde, AZ 
Eagle 3186 & 2 Benchmarks-Eagletail Mtns Wilde, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 09 2019
Hiking3.62 Miles 1,647 AEG
Hiking3.62 Miles   6 Hrs   6 Mns   1.62 mph
1,647 ft AEG   3 Hrs   52 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Peak 3186 is the second highest peak in Eagletail Mountains Wilderness.
(Eagle Tail Peak is 116 feet higher, with the last portion a technical climb).

The only two HAZ triplogs/photosets used a route starting from the northwest. This northwest route includes a total of 6 miles of wilderness road hiking (3 in and 3 out, through a wide valley).
At the end of the road, you hike off-trail to Peak 3186.
Along that route, you could maneuver to get great views of 'Triple-Eye' and other arches, plus view a very impressive wildlife catchment.

Since my objective was only Peak 3186, I chose a much shorter route, from the northeast, starting out on the east side of the Eagletail range. It was basically the same route used by surveyors that went up Peak 3186 in 1949 and 1950. The route is shorter and more steep.

Those surveyors set two benchmarks in 1949, one a normal benchmark disk, and the other was a huge cairn. The cairn was set so as to be visible from the valley to the east. (While up there, I rebuilt the demolished cairn).

From the eastern valley, the actual top of Peak 3186 sticks up like a thumb.
Viewing my route up, from the desert floor, reminded me of my Woolsey Peak hike - very vertical. The difference ended there however, as Woolsey has alot of solid, grippy basalt boulders to assist on the hike up. The way up to Peak 3186 was just as steep, but was mostly slipping and sliding on scree.

Plus, once I got done with the steepness and leveled off, I still had to maneuver around the vertical walls of the actual top crag of the peak. I determined (after the hike), that once I leveled off from the steep climb, I was only about 120 feet (horizontally) from the benchmark.
The problem was the vertical walls of the crag were easily twenty five feet high, so I had to maneuver around to the other side of the actual top to make the last vertical "up".
No big deal - It just took a bit longer to get up there.

The actual top of Pk 3186 is quite small, with vertical drop-offs on three sides. To go from the benchmark disk to the cairn benchmark (58 feet away, via a narrow peak extension) is an interesting little jaunt. No true exposure, but I wouldn't try it in the dark.

I have a few more hikes planned out here (west of PHX and south of I-10), with some of them a bit further west. The remoteness and ruggedness are addictive.
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
2 archives
Oct 19 2018

 Guides 61
 Routes 58
 Photos 8,538
 Triplogs 1,873

42 male
 Joined Sep 08 2006
 Marana, AZ
Eagle 3186 - Eagletail Mountains WildernessSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 19 2018
Hiking16.00 Miles 2,200 AEG
Hiking16.00 Miles   8 Hrs   40 Mns   2.04 mph
2,200 ft AEG      50 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The drive in to where I parked was pretty smooth and straight forward, but just south of the wire cattle gate I had to stop as a wash had been washed out more than my car's front end could handle. Just as well, as I walked that much further and I am certain that this is now my longest hike for the year. The road would be easy to drive were it not for those washes.

In general, this was 2 parts: easy road walking and fairly challenging off trail gravel walking. Lots of water, both in the catchment and in the water pockets in the rock. Lots of mosquitoes, too. Yay! I tried my best to follow the GPS track on the map to the summit, and did a decent job. Coming down, being as I hated much of the route, I went for a direct line to the catchment and was able to go much faster. I do not know that would be the case going up. Stats reflect the HAZbot route which is up only, and a little extra elevation gain as I estimated coming down, plus 2 miles each way on the 2-track to meet the TH.

Heading around 3186 was interesting and being on solid rock was the best part of the hike. Summit views were pretty nice, and visibility was good, which was a bit surprising given how humid it was and has been post the autumn deluge, but the winter dry is also accompanied by pollution, and that isn't here just yet.

Going out, I caught the sunset at the catchment, hiked by last twilight to somewhere near the wilderness signs, and then moonlight the rest of the way.

Very quiet out here, no spring birds, no large mammals and no real life other than irritating insects and lizards, noted. Thought maybe I would see a sheep or deer. Oh, well. Copious water at present.

Skipped the triple eye, not my thing, but I didn't have the light anyway. Enjoyable summit.
Named place
Named place
Big Horn Peak
Welcome to Costco, I love you.
1 archive
Feb 13 2016

 Guides 82
 Routes 690
 Photos 16,038
 Triplogs 1,613

48 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Triple Eye Eagle, AZ 
Triple Eye Eagle, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 13 2016
Hiking13.23 Miles 2,885 AEG
Hiking13.23 Miles   7 Hrs   46 Mns   2.38 mph
2,885 ft AEG   2 Hrs   12 Mns Break
1st trip
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!
Bighorn Sheep
Natural Arch

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Dead Deer Tank 51-75% full 51-75% full
natural pothole in bedrock.
33s over 45s
average hiking speed 2.04 mph

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.

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