Phoenix, AZ: Elephant Head

Tackle tricky terrain to gain a solitary alp.
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Tackle tricky terrain to gain a solitary alp.

Even people who live in Arizona sometimes need reminding that the state has more to offer than canyons and deserts. Find one wake-up call next to Tucson and just a few hours south of Phoenix, in the Santa Rita Mountains. There, the hulking peak known as Elephant Head rises high above the cactus-covered lowlands. It demarcates the west end of the range, with steep granite walls guarding its summit on three sides. Scramble up the East Ridge to reach views of the rugged and bone dry Santa Ritas and Baboquivari Mountains.

From the Trail 930 trailhead, hike north .7 mile to a saddle at 4,700 feet, and continue north across the head of Chino Basin, where you’ll pick up the old roadbed leading to the Quantrell Mine, an early 1900s old gold and silver mine. As the Quantrell Mine trail begins to circle to the east, then south, look for an unmaintained trail to Elephant Head on the left; it drops steeply into the high desert of upper Chino Canyon before climbing to a saddle east of the summit. In April and May, catch the ocotillo forest in fiery redorange bloom. It’s a 600-vertical foot scramble to the top.

CONTACT: (520) 281-2296, fs.fed.us/r3/coronado

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 9.8

Waypoints

EPH001

Location: 31.695383, -110.929041

From the Trail 930 trailhead, hike northwest, then north to a saddle at 4,700 feet.

EPH002

Location: 31.701042, -110.935371

Crest this 4,700-foot saddle, and continue north across the head of Chino Basin.

EPH003

Location: 31.70395, -110.93286

Turn right to pick up the old roadbed leading to the Quantrell Mine, an early 1900s old gold and silver mine.

EPH004

Location: 31.713698, -110.935478

When thhe Quantrell Mine trail begins to circle to the east, then south. Bear left onto an unmaintained trail to Elephant Head.

EPH005

Location: 31.716322, -110.935392

Cross a drainage, then climb north to a saddle east of
the summit. In April and May, catch the ocotillo forest in fiery red-orange
bloom.

EPH006

Location: 31.721779, -110.933719

At the crest of the ridge, turn left (northwest) for the final, 600-vertical foot scramble to the top.

EPH007

Location: 31.724444, -110.93919

Elephant Head (5,641 ft.) rises high above the cactus-covered lowlands. It demarcates the west end of the range, with steep granite walls guarding its summit on three sides. Take in views of the rugged and bone dry Santa Ritas and Baboquivari Mountains. Retrace your route to the trailhead.