Mount Graham

  • Mount Graham
  • 3269 m
  • Primary factor 1932 m
  • Location: North 32:42.101, West 109:52.286 (GPS at the summit)
  • Arizona, USA
  • Difficulty: YDS class 1
  • Climbed: July 17, 2008


How to get there: The city of Safford is a good starting reference. Locate the intersection between Hwy. 70 and Hwy. 191 in the center of Safford. measure from here. Head south on Hwy. 191 for 7.4 miles. You will arrive at a signed intersection where Hwy.366 goes right. Take this road. The road is very straight in the beginning, but soon evolves into a true mountain road with numerous curves. At mile 12.1 you enter into the Coronado National Forest. As you drive uphill, you shall pass the 9000 feet level before, at mile 28.6, you will see a sign for the Shannon Campground pointing right. Drive into this campground and continue 0.2 miles from the entrance. We parked at campsite number 6. There is a self payment scheme for the campground, we paid ten dollars and left a receipt visible in the car. This is the trailhead, location N32:39.508, W109:51.445, elevation about 2739 meter.
Route description: From campsite number 6, descend slightly and cross the small creek. Ascend the slope on the other side, make sure you do not go too far to your right. This slope is easy among big trees. Higher up, you will come across an old jeep road that runs pretty horizontally. Follow this old road to your right until it reaches a very distinct gully. Continue across this gully, then leave the road and climb the hillside above you, again easy slopes. As you near the top of a small plateau, head left and intersect a nice forest road jus as it makes a hairpin left curve (when facing uphill). This location is N32:39.838, W109:51.574, elevation about 2880 meter.
Follow this road as it climbs very gently and pretty much follows the crest of the mountain. Eventually, you may see one of the observatory buildings on the slope of a hill further ahead. You will then soon see an old fork on the road. The right fork has been closed off with some piles of dirt. Take this right fork and follow it until you are on the very summit. The summit area is full of fallen trees and generally fairly cumbersome to cross.
We stayed in Safford and started out early since we had planned to travel onwards to New Mexico in the afternoon. Got to the trailhead and started hiking around 0630. The route as described above, was easy and before we knew it, the summit was a short way up to the right. We left the road and aimed directly for what looked like the highest point. However, hundreds of trees had fallen across each other in a big chaos. Soon, we were climbing across logs, trying to walk along the top of logs etc. At the very end, things improved and we located the highest point among some (still standing) trees. We had arrived at 0750, only 1:20 to the top. We stayed for about 20 minutes before returning to the car at 0935.
This hike is quite nice as the old road runs through meadows and generally along the main crest. We saw absolutely nobody. It is also nice that the observatories and their access is well separated from this route to the summit.