Saturday, December 22, 2012

Miller Peak - Arizona

Miller Peak Hike
Miller Peak Wilderness
Coronado National Forest
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Mileage - 10.92
Time - 4:31
AEG - 3493ft

Miller Peak is the highest point in the Huachuca Mountains, and comes in at number five on the top 100 most prominent peaks in Arizona.  Located just outside of the Coronado National Memorial (the place where the Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado first entered what is now the United States), Miller Peak sits only four miles North of the Mexican border, and is the Southernmost 9,000 foot peak in the continental United States.  Several peaks in this range rise impressively above the nearby town of Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca to the North. 

The route I chose to the summit started from the South at Montezuma's Pass (6,575ft) and followed the crest trail for 4.5 miles to a sign indicating the final 0.5-mile stretch to reach the peak.  The Crest Trail leading through the Huachuca Mountains is a common entry route for Mexican immigrants and smuggling, so it's wise to take precautions and never travel alone through this area.  Bob and I headed up the mountain just before 9:00am and quickly made our way to the peak.  The trail is well maintained and easy to follow.  And the views...well, take a look for yourself.  The last half mile was tough because of a recent snowfall, in fact, most of the Northern slopes were covered.  The wind made our time at the summit quite brief.  Make that intolerable!  We backtracked that half mile to the crest trail junction and decided to make our way towards Carr Peak.  Since we were feeling good, bagging two 9,000 foot peaks in the same day sounded like a great idea until we discovered how deep the snow was on the crest.   

Hiking in deep snow was not suitable for our footwear and wet feet made our decision to turn around easy.  A little after noon we began the descent and were quickly confronted by two border patrol agents.  I was very surprised to see them on the mountain, especially so high up.  I had no idea they patrolled that far into the mountain ranges.  They asked us several questions and even wanted to get a look at the soles of our shoes.  Bob and I couldn't quite put our finger on why they were up there.  Was it routine patrol or were they looking for two guys hiking quickly up the crest trail??  Either way, it was nice to see them and it makes me feel a little safer hiking in these remote mountains of Southern Arizona.

Looking South from Sierra Vista, AZ (Miller-left, Carr-right)

Looking North at Miller Peak from Coronado Peak
Standing on Miller Peak Summit (9,466ft)- Carr Peak to the right
Montezuma Peak (Pictured top-left foreground)

Bob hiking along the Crest Trail (Miller Peak in the Distance)
One mile from the Mexico Border!

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