Elephant Head: East Ridge Trail is a 8.5 mile out and back trail located near Amado, Arizona and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from September until May.
Remote location, exceptional scenery, 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.
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.
Very nice hike. A bit overgrown in some parts but very much worth the wile
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.
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