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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

HARQUAHALA PACK TRAIL

HARQUAHALA PACK TRAIL Harquahala Mountain Wilderness Area An abandoned solar observatory on top of the 5,691-foot summit of Harquahala mountain, the highest point in southwestern Arizona, is but one of many points of interest atop this desert peak. Stunning views of the sprawling farmlands near Wickenburg, a healthy desert tortoise population, skulking Gila monsters and ruins of an abandoned mine camp provide hours of visual interest along the narrow pack trail that spirals skyward from the desert floor. Just below the summit, there’s a mountain pass with good views of a precipitous dirt road that snakes up the massive south slopes of the mountain. In addition to being a favorite destination for brave 4 x 4 enthusiasts, the bumpy route also is used by Central Arizona Project workers to access the array of solar-powered equipment on the apex which regulates the flow of water in the CAP canals that criss-cross the Metro Phoenix area. LENGTH: 11.5 miles round-trip RATING: difficult ELEVATION: 2320' - 5691' GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take  US60 (Grand Avenue) west towards Wickenburg. From Wickenburg, continue on US60 for about 14 miles past the little town of Aguila. Between mile markers 70 and 71, look for a gate on the left and a small brown “trail” sign and turn onto the dirt road. You’ll need to open the latched gate and close it behind you. Follow the generic “trail” signs for 2.2 miles to the trailhead where there’s an interpretive sign and a restroom. Information: Arizona Bureau of Land Management, http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/autotour/harq_summit.html

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