Saturday, February 7, 2009
MILLER PEAK Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Located just a few miles from the Mexican border, Miller Peak is the southern most mountain summit in the United States. The 9,466-foot high point of the Huachuca range is the product of a “super volcano” created by the Pacific continental plate sliding under the North American plate. Millions of years of cataclysmic geological events have transformed the landscape and left behind some of the most complex geography in the country. The lower trail passes by several abandoned mine shafts that now provide shelter for colorful lizards as well as undocumented Mexican nationals as they attempt to avoid detection by border patrol agents and the surveillance device that hovers over the area. The vegetation and geology changes continually along the way; passing through grasslands, forests and cliffs of marble before emerging onto an exposed ridge for the final climb to the limestone summit where views of southeastern Arizona’s basin and range topography transcend international boundaries. NOTE: Mexican nationals frequently use this route to cross into the USA. So, you may run into them or stumble upon their litter-strewn campsites. In my experiences, they usually run away when they encounter hikers. NOTE: the trail sustained substantial damage from the 2011 Monument Fire. LENGTH: 10.6 miles roundtrip RATING: difficult ELEVATION: 6,440 - 9466 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take I-10 past Tucson and connect to Highway 90 south to Sierra Vista. From Sierra Vista, follow Highway 92 south for 14 miles to the turn off for the Coronado National Monument (FR 61) and continue past the visitor center and up the winding unpaved road to the Montezuma Pass lookout. The hike begins on the Crest Trail located to the north east of the parking lot.