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A Stellar Hike In The Dragoon Mountains, Arizona

A Stellar Hike in the Dragoon Mountains, Arizona

I hadn’t even heard of the Dragoon Mountains until I arrived at Cochise Stronghold Retreat. We drove up at night and couldn’t see a thing. It wasn’t until I looked out the first morning that I realized what a beautiful area we had happened upon.

We had booked the B&B as it was reasonably close to Chiricahua National Monument and figured it would make a great base for several days. But we didn’t appreciate that right out our back door were some incredible hikes in the Dragoon Mountains.

Looking out at the Dragoon Mountains in the Cochise Stronghold
Looking out at the Dragoon Mountains in the Cochise Stronghold

The Cochise Indian Trail hike in the Dragoon Mountains

Before I describe the hike I should tell you a little about Cochise Stronghold. Considered to be one of Arizona’s “sky islands”, Cochise Stronghold is a premier destination for birding as well as hiking, rock-climbing and horseback riding.

The area served as a “natural fortress and hideout for the Apache Indians of the Chiricahua clan” – who were led by Cochise. He was born in these mountains and spent 12 years from 1860 – 1872 battling the US Cavalry. He’s likely buried in them somewhere as well though rumour has it only one white man – his blood brother – knows of the burial spot and I’m sure that man is also long gone.

The hike itself climbs at a gentle grade for the first mile. In short order lichen-covered granite domes and pillars come into view. They are especially dramatic during the magic hour. It’s only three miles to the divide with a total elevation gain of about a thousand feet.

From the divide you can continue toward Cochise Stronghold West. On the day we visited the trail was snow-covered. The extra two miles along this portion of the trail is far more isolated but reportedly offers views of fantastic rock gardens. Next time we’ll do it.

Here’s what a hike in the Dragoons looks like

Hiking in Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains
Don’t know if I’d want to put my fingers in the cracks as this is scorpion country
Hiking in Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains
After a storm in December there was some snow on the trails
Hiking in Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains
The hiking in the Dragoon Mountains is easy even though we climb about 1000 feet over 3 miles
Hiking in Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains
Crazy rock formations
Cochise Stronghold hike in Arizona's Dragoon Mountains
Quite the dam visible at about the halfway point of the hike
Hiking in the Dragoon Mpuntains of Arizona
Beautiful reflection at the dam
Cochise Stronghold hike in Arizona's Dragoon Mountains
Expansive views out to the flatlands of southeast Arizona
Cochise Stronghold hike in Arizona's Dragoon Mountains
There is superb rock climbing in the area as well
Cochise Stronghold hike in Arizona's Dragoon Mountains
Our turn around point on the hike
Mexican jay - Cochise Stronghold
The Mexican jay stayed still long enough for this photo

For m ore information on Dragoon Mountains check out the Visit Arizona website.

Further reading on Arizona hiking 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Thanks for the pics, they’re nicely composed. The trail’s description is ok, although it would have been nice if you would have described directions to the trail head.

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