Chiricahua National Monument
Chiricahua Monument Wilderness
Mileage - 8.75
Time - 4:40
AEG - 3,074ft
Seeing it once was all I needed. Two years ago when I first visited Chiricahua National Monument, all I could think was "I need to reach the top of that!" Cochise Head is a fortress-like rock formation just outside of the park that commands attention when looking North. Honestly, I cannot believe two years have passed since then, though I guess its better late than never. Luckily I purchased at topographic map of the Chiricahua mountain range from the visitor center last time we were there because I couldn't find any other information on the route to the peak.
Overnight temperatures made our camping experience rather pleasant in the national monument, and I would have to say that the Bonita Canyon Campground has to be one of my favorites in Arizona. Our trek began around 8:30am from a pullout along Bonita Canyon Drive. We walked two-tenths of a mile to a gate that led up an old mining road for another mile and a half to where the "trail" began. I say it like that because it wasn't really a designated trail at all. It was more like a game trail along a hillside. At the three mile mark we crossed a wash and began the steep ascent along a ridgeline to the back of Cochise Head to make the final hand over hand approach to the summit at 8,113ft. It was one of the hardest four and a half mile hikes to reach the top of a mountain that I've done in a long time, though well worth the effort. I think the view trumped that of our hike the day before to Chiricahua Peak.
The Horseshoe Two fire of 2011 ripped through the area, leaving most of the trail exposed to the sun and the trail that much harder to find. Over 220,000 acres of wilderness burned and 93% of the national monument was affected. If you're going to attempt this hike, I would suggest doing your homework. Bring a GPS and a topo map, pack plenty of food and water, wear long pants and sleeves, and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. It's not one to take lightly.
Cochise Head (Summit is left of center)