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Cochise Stronghold Professional Review and Guide
"A day hike into the Dragoon Mountains. In the lore of southwestern deserts, few Indian leaders were as renowned and respected as the Apache warrior Cochise. His band, known as the Chokonen or “Tall Cliffs People,” used the rocky mazes of the southern Dragoons as a natural fortress. Here they were secure from attack and had commanding views of the surrounding country. This fantastic formation of jumbled granite is known today as Cochise Stronghold, and the fabled warrior whose name it bears is said to be buried in a secret chasm deep within these rocks. The rock formations rise impressively as the trail climbs, resembling orderly stacks of tilted stone that were arranged by some forgotten giant."
--Erik Molvar, Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country (Falcon Guides).
This trail is my favorite of the region. It is actually quite an easy trail to walk up to the stronghold divide. The elevation gain is quite gradual but not boring by any means. The scenes are quite lovely. You can easily imagine how Cochise hid among these rock formations. East of the stronghold divide the trail begins going downhill with lots of switchbacks. The scenery becomes more inspiring with each turn. There is one very, very narrow portion of the trail where there is no possible way I would cross on a horse (in case you had that plan). Some repair to the trail is needed here. I actually plan to hike in from the east end of the trail so I am going uphill on my way in toward the stronghold divide then turn back for downhill return. I hear the drive in toward the east entry is a beautiful drive.
A great trail with suprisingly awesome views and chances for some scrambling and bouldering. A nice overnight can be done by starting at the east stronghold and hiking the 4.5 miles to the west stronghold, where there are some nice campsites near and around the unpaved parking lot there. Aside from the occasional car (or hiker who starts there rather than at the east side), a nice amount of seclusion is available.
Bring plenty of water; there is usually some available at Half Moon Tank, but I wouldn't want to drink it, even treated!
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