Beyond The Pavement-Harquahala Mountain
Harquahala Mountain, (Hark-wa-hala) is a 5681’ peak near Aguila, Arizona. It is located southwest of Aguila, Arizona between US Highway 60 and Eagle Eye Rd which intersect in Aguila. To access the mountain’s peak you start at the trailhead off Eagle Eye Road. There you will find a parking area as well as informational plaques, picnic tables and a pit toilet. This is the only toilet on the route!
The “Byway” up the mountain to the peak is recommended for Off Highway Vehicles or 4×4 vehicles. The trail/road is gravel with areas of loose rock, sand and dirt. This trail/road is not recommended during inclement weather, especially periods of heavy rain or snow. It is a shelf type road along most of its length, meaning there are steep drop-offs alongside. There are pull offs to allow vehicles to pass going in opposite directions or to allow faster moving ones to get around you. Some of the switch back turns can present a challenge for longer wheelbase full-sized vehicles.
Along the way up and especially at the top you will have commanding views of the trail, the mountain itself and hundreds of miles in every direction (If the weather is clear that is). Big Horn Sheep and other wildlife call the mountain home, but we didn’t see anything more than a few birds on the two occasions we visited.
Our first journey up was mostly sunny with clouds approaching from the west. By the time we reached the peak, clouds, a cold wind and rain greeted us shortly after our arrival at the summit which prompted a hasty departure.
For us, we weren’t affected by the sudden change in weather. We were warm and dry inside our Jeep. Those who drove up in their OHVs wished they had warmer clothing and rain gear. Even with a little amount of precipitation, the road/trail changed rapidly. It was slipperier coming down than it was going up. The gusty winds above 4000’ made the ride less enjoyable for those exposed to the elements. The weather and road conditions required one to concentrate on driving ultra carefully.
Instead of enjoying lunch at the top as planned, we waited until we returned to the staging area at the trailhead to eat inside our vehicles as it lightly rained.
A few weeks passed before we took our second trip to the mountain. This trip was much more enjoyable as the weather was perfect…Sunny, warm with only a hint of a breeze. This allowed us to explore the summit and have a picnic lunch with a commanding view from a parking area near the summit. The ride down was leisurely and gave us the opportunity to explore a side trail that took us to an abandoned mining site.
For those who like to primitive camp, there are camping spots a short distance beyond the trailhead, scattered along the byway for maybe a mile or two. However, this is a very primitive road/trail and isn’t suitable for large, heavy long wheel based RVs. In fact, as you pass the trail head staging area there is a deep dip into a wash that longer rigs could get hung up depending on the condition of the trail and wash is passes through.
Find the location of the trailhead HERE on Google Maps.