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Elephant Head: East Ridge Trail

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Coronado National Forest

Elephant Head: East Ridge Trail is a 12.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Amado, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from September until May.

Distance: 12.9 miles Elevation Gain: 3,120 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

views

wild flowers

over grown

rocky

scramble

no shade

no dogs

Remote location, exceptional scenery, and exposed desert summit. From the parking area hike south through Chino Canyon. After about 1.4 miles, you'll pass the ruins of the old Elephant Head Mill. The small granite peak to your right is Little Elephant Head. Continue on to the upper reaches of Chino Basin. As you climb out of the basin you will catch your first glimpse of the east ridge of Elephant Head. As soon as you start heading northeast a faint trail will split off of the main trail. It will take you down into the valley, on your left, and up the other side to the prominent saddle at the base of the east ridge. Be alert and don't miss the trail, it is marked by a large cairn. This portion of the trail is hard follow but it is marked with several small cairns. Once at the saddle you've reached the best part.The rest of the hike is easy scrambling up a granite ridge. The route up is marked by closely spaced cairns. Soon you will be standing on the small exposed summit of Elephant Head.

hiking
no shade
rocky
6 days ago

hiking
no shade
6 days ago

Last mile to the “trail head” is a rough road to drive on. Enjoyed the trail history of the Elephant Head Mill Site

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
washed out
28 days ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Nice hike but loose gravel makes it a bit slippery on the downhill slopes. Normally hike with my dog but I’m glad I didn’t as the scramble would be a bit much. I accessed from Hawk Rd and was able to take my Quad to the wilderness boundary making the hike 4.5 miles round trip. Great views.

hiking
no shade
scramble
3 months ago

Started from Agua Caliente Canyon to make it a ~9 miler. Drive past the Elephant Head trail parking for some ways until you find a dirt road on your left with a fence next to it labeled "No trespassing" (this is for the fenced-in area, not the road) and take that up to a small parking area across from a trail labeled with only a brown "trail" post. It is a dirt road, but it's manageable with most cars, even though the roads recommend 4WD. The trail up to the turn is a well-marked old mining road, and then a cairn to the left when you get to the last canyon before elephants head shoots you down a slick and steep trail to a beautiful stream. We rested up there before making the push back up the canyon and then scrambling up the peak. Keep an eye out for cairns and strategically placed rocks and branches to guide you. So long as you keep looking, it's an easy trail to follow. Beautiful views and an awesome ocotillo forest. Will definitely be back. Wear long pants, hat and sunscreen.

hiking
no shade
over grown
rocky
scramble
6 months ago

Completed on 12/07/2019: Beautiful hike with many colors and views all around: tall overgrown yellow grass, agave, and plenty of cactus. The trail itself is very rocky with some slick areas. Hiking boots are recommended. The trail initially is easy to follow, however, after the left turn drop down, we slowed down as it began to be a little challenging to follow. There are cairns throughout. Once we got to the saddle, we lost the trail. We were not able to get to the top, this time. We plan to try again when we aren’t limited by daylight.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
Sat Mar 02 2019

Me, my sister, and my pup did this hike...but we only made it to the point on the trail where it turns off to the left as described in the trail notes. There is a large boulder on your right and a small trail drops down to the left. We tried adding rocks to the cairn bc it is sooooo easy to miss. At that point we had done about 5 miles. The road into this trailhead is two track and very rocky. We did not park at the exact trail head, but rather a half mile before it, because you do come to a closed gate on the road. Wasn’t sure if we could open it and keep driving...regardless, the road is so rocky at that point we didn’t want to lose a tire. Glad to have done the hike in the winter bc the sun felt good but I imagine in the heat of the summer it could be quite hot - you are exposed the whole time. The views are amazing! The hike is a steady climb in. Wasn’t sure about the pet policy on this hike, but what we could see of the scramble, I don’t think my four-legged companion would have faired that well. Definitely will try again sans canine to make it to the top! You need a full day to do this hike in my opinion if you are on foot, not mountain bike. Also, we saw a large coatimundi

Wed Jan 16 2019

Love it

Sat Mar 10 2018

Didn't go all the way up, but beautiful area once you get there. Unfortunately, a long/uneventful hike just to get to the good stuff

backpacking
Mon Nov 13 2017

Careful with your planning on this day trip. We took the Elephant Head road southeast approach, 4wheel drive, rough road and costly large rocks. We were working Ham Radio “Summits on the Air” as our goal was to activate this summit. We fell short by several hundred feet as we could not find a route to the summit. Temperature swing in Nov. was 42 to 82*, otherwise a great time, isolated and rugged. Will come from another direction next time!!

backpacking
Sun Nov 12 2017

Hiked with Brother and Nephew to test Ham Radios. Great reception. Very rough hike for a couple older guys. Will come back again. Saw Javelina and was well worth the trip!!

hiking
Tue Feb 07 2017

I give this only 3 stars because this trail is very overgrown, and not maintained. I highly suggest you wear pants or your legs will get scratched up badly. Even my arms got scratched from tall grass and overgrown cactus. I'm an experienced hiker and I found this hike to be difficult. I started from Elephant Head Road. You'll start by walking about 2 miles on fairly flat terrain before you hit the very steep slope down. Carry a walking stick or ski pole, it will help if you start to slide as it's pretty steep. Then it's the upside, again this is fairly steep. The last 2 miles or so is rock climbing to the top. You need fairly good arm strength. Once at the top, the view is amazing. Bring an elephant or something with an elephant on it to leave. There's quite as pile started. Sign the guest book. Loved the challenge and view of this hike, just wish the trail was in better shape. If your a hiker, I recommend it.

hiking
Mon Oct 10 2016

Very nice hike. A bit overgrown in some parts but very much worth the wile

hiking
Tue Sep 20 2016

The Agua Caliente Road has been resurfaced as of Summer 2016. Any passenger vehicle can again get access to the Elephant Head and Agua Caliente trail heads.

hiking
Wed Mar 11 2015

great views make sure you have a high clearance vehicle or you will add an hour on each end no cell service often so take the correct precautions

hiking
3 months ago

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