February 26, 2015

East of Vulture Mountain and south of Wickenburg, Arizona

   The group parked our trucks and trailers across from the Rodeo grounds and at the entrance to Wickenburg City Camping Park, on Constellation Road.  We rode our Off Highway Vehicles down to McDonalds to the entrance to the Hassayampa River (this part of the river is dry). From the bridge we road south 3.8 miles turning right, going under the railroad tracks. Be careful there are horseback riders and cattle in this area, give them respect.
      Everyone rode out the wash and turned left on a trail, just picking our way as we went.

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   Our group ended up making a big circle around a few mountains.  You can see old mine tailings. We did notice active mining claims in the area

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   Further on down the trail we came upon a south facing mountain side, which was loaded with mature saguaro cactus. The elevation and sun exposure must be just right for such lush growth.They like the warmer south facing slopes

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There were great rock colors, and diverse trails to negotiate. We came across a BLM trail marker #9082A, it was heading south in a major wash.  Our group saw some javelinas running up a hill side, they were quite skittish since hunting season just ended on them. We also saw 3 large water tanks and some hawks.  The gang came back on Turtleback wash.  It was a pleasant ride and we noticed there were other trails that we can come back and explore .

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Our mascot, Emmi, even wears eye protection. Making plans to head back and stop at McDonalds for ice cream!  We only rode 30 miles the whole day, but the day was a perfect!!

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February 24, 2015

Harquahala Mountain in Aguila, Arizona

Harquahala Mountain  in Aguila, Az, turn  onto the Eagle Eye Road, a few miles in watch on the left for the mountain with a  hole at the top - Eagle Eye!

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Drive 18 miles turning R at the Harquahala Mountain Byway  staging area.  There’s plenty of parking, a outhouse, and a information kiosk, with interesting facts about the area. This mountain is the highest peak in the SW corner of Arizona.  The name comes from Native Americans   - "Aha-qua-hala" meaning " water there is, high up"  due to the numerous springs.  Volcanic magma rock formed 900 million years ago, and the Sonoran desert floor was a shallow sea bed 100 million years ago.

  Starting in 1860 the road was built for mining access over a 70 year span and reached the summit in 1981. Over the years they mined gold, silver, manganese and gypsum.
  The road is for OHV or 4 wheel drive vehicles because it is narrow and very steep, watch out for fallen rocks,  motorist and wildlife like desert Bighorn sheep,  mule deer, javelina, rosy boa snake and the desert tortoise.

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   We rode out of the parking on a trail marked 9300. Travel up the hill you will find picnic/ primitive camping  areas along this 4 wheel road.  After 2 miles we turned right to look at an old homestead built of cement walls and river stones.  You may ride up this separate trail to the Monterey Mine where you will find the mine shaft where they used to mine gold and silver.

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   We continued back up the main road,  it is easy to traverse, but at the same time it could be washed out, rocky and there are many switch backs.  We stopped for several photo opportunities going up the mountain.  You will see great vistas of the flat desert land with a few roads cutting across like ribbons,  numerous rugged mountains and patchwork farmland.

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   By the time you reach the summit you will travel 3800 ft. in elevation! Near the top there is a chance to see Mt. sheep.  As you rise in elevation you can see the vegetation changing from cactus to scrub oak. On top of the mountain you will be at an elevation of 5681 ft. and you will find a large parking and tent camping areas.

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    It took us two hours to get to the top - 10.5 miles.  The views are breathtaking! You can see the land below in a 360 degree panoramic view, try to make out the towns in the area below.
At the summit the solar panels provide power to the microwave towers which control water canals.  Opening and closing of water gates  hundreds of miles away.

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   In 1920 the Smithsonian Institution constructed the 2 story metal building used for collecting solar data, it was used for forecasting climate events for 5 years. They lived in this harsh environment with temperatures ranging from  above 100 degrees in the summer to windy,  20 degrees in the winter.


It took less than 2 hours to get down, we did meet 2 vehicles and 1 group of OHV's going to the summit.
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   This is a must see if you are in the area.  We had a great time viewing the desert floor and rising in elevation.  We were amazed how they built the road on the side of this mountain. You will see diverse plants and see hawks flying below you.  Notice an array of assorted rocks and the breathtaking colors.  There were also other trails on the desert floor, which we did not ride on this day.
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