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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 Dragoon Mountains 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

Further reading on Arizona hiking 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 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

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