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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1 comment:

  1. My buddy lives over there at that Airport housing just under that Eagle... Rode my Harley over there once with Gregg, nice ride. Nice Blog you have there, I didn't realize.......Way to go!! I know you followed mine for years..... I also realize that's it some hard work...


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