Cherum Peak • Cerbat Mountains
• Central Mohave County


Cherum Peak as seen from US-93
 

The road lower down
 

View roughly from Windy Point, about two miles from the trailhead. The summit bumps are visible in the distance
 

One last view from the road. The trailhead is visible ahead
 

The trailhead
 

The trail lower down
 

Aiming for Point 6595
 

Now on the range crest, the summit comes into view again
 

Now on the ATV track, the summit is ahead
 

The top
 

Looking down into the big mines near Chloride
 

North view of Peak 6857 and of Mount Tipton
 

Montage: Cherum peak sign near the top, A view of Peak 6857, a sundial along the trail, and some of the trail below Point 6595
 

On the drive out, looking down at some of the winding road
 

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Date: March 12, 2015 • Elevation: 6,983 feet • Prominence: 1,583 feet • Distance: 6 miles • Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes • Gain: 1,100 feet • Conditions: Clear skies, sunny and warm, but cold in the shade

Cherum Peak is the second highest, and the second-most prominent, summit in the Cerbat Mountains, which extend north of Kingman and parallel the Detrital Valley in northwest Arizona. Four years ago, Adam Helman and I hiked the range highpoint, Mount Tipton. This would be only the second time I have ever explored deep into this range.

I had time off for Spring Break, and was planning to attend a conference in Las Vegas. I looked at a few hiking options for the drive there (or back), and put this peak at the top of my list. I was aware that it is logistically easy. It has a decent road to the trailhead, and a good trail to the top. I could conceivably complete this hike in just a few hours, not a whole day. It would be a good way to break up the drive.

I originally planned to hike this peak on my drive home the following Sunday. It had been dry and warm in the state in recent weeks, but this peak is high enough to get snow, and my logic was that giving it a couple more days to dry out would better my odds for success. I was also concerned about the access road being muddy.

I left Scottsdale at 9 a.m. and drove to Wickenburg, then northbound on US-93 to Interstate-40, then to Kingman where I got gas and snacks. It was about 12:15 and the day was turning out to be very nice, after starting out gray and overcast down south. I continued northbound on US-93 for another twenty miles to Big Wash Road, which is immediately south of milepost 51, a little north of the main road into the mining town of Chloride. Cherum Peak stands high above Chloride, and its prominence makes it obvious to the eye.

My plan at the moment was to drive the road as far as I could. If I could get to the trailhead, then I would hike the peak today, rather than Sunday. A sign down low said the trailhead was 12 miles farther.

The road is wide and well graded down low. It crosses the desert plain and a couple homesteads, gaining elevation at a gentle rate. In time, the road starts to hug the ridges and slopes and gets a shade narrower. In a few spots, there were rocks strewn in the road, but the conditions were generally good.

At about six miles in, the road switchbacks steeply through a couple of narrow spots, then starts to bend south and traverse the west-facing slopes of the range. The drops were pronounced, and the grade a little steeper. I rumbled forward slowly, paying attention. Even a little fishtailing was terrifying!

I passed the Packsaddle camping area at mile 9, and even saw someone there. The road then crests a small pass where I could see Cherum Peak. The road lost a little elevation as I approached the trailhead, 11.8 miles in from the highway said my odometer. The trailhead is small, located near where the road splits, a straight going uphill to the Lucky Boy Mine, and a right steeply downhill into the town of Mineral Park. There isnít a parking lot in the usual sense. Instead, I parked along the side, out of the way should another vehicle come by. The drive took me just over 30 minutes and was minorly exciting given the grades and exposure, but it was in fine shape all the way to the end.

I got my shoes on and pack in order, starting my hike at 1:10 p.m., elevation about 5,700 feet. The day was sunny and warm, but high enough so that the breezes had a chilly bite to them. There were tiny patches of snow in some shaded, north-facing slopes, but nowhere near any amount that would have stopped me or my truck.

The trail actually drops about 100 feet at the start, passes through a gate, trending east toward a lowpoint, then bending hard-left and gaining up a slope covered in manzanita scrub and low shrubs and cactus, passing over to the east-facing slopes of the range. Then the trail makes a hard right and heads south. A few hundred yards later, it rounds a bend east of the Better Days Mine, then starts a series of switchbacks up the scrubby east-facing slopes, aiming for a pass higher up near Point 6595 on the map. The trail is even visible way up there, as viewed from down low.

This section was a grind, but I gained 400 feet fairly fast. I was now nearer the main range crest with more pinion trees. I passed a second gate, then achieved the range crest. Here, the trail then moved to the west-facing slopes below Peak 6757, came to yet another gate, then dropped into a soft saddle below Peak 6857. Now the trail angled left through a more abundant patch of forest, passing east below Peak 6857. At this point, the trail ended, merging in with an ATV track. I then followed this track southbound, losing some elevation, but now where I could see Cherum Peak itself.

I followed the track past a couple water catchment tanks, then angled right from the road onto the trail again (a sign was there, but hidden in the shadows). I passed a fourth gate, and simply marched up the trail to a spot just below the summit. The final 20 vertical feet was an easy scramble up rocks to the top. Moving quickly, it had taken me 1 hour and 10 minutes to get here. I snapped some images, including one of the big open mines down below in Mineral Park and Chloride. The sky was bright blue but it was chilly up this high. When the wind would pick up, it would get uncomfortable. When it was still, it was pleasant.

I didnít stay long, but I did take time to pick out various peaks. Mount Tipton was to the north, and across the way to the north and east, I could see the Grand Wash Cliffs and what I think was its highpoint, Duncan Benchmark. The Hualapai Mountains with Hualapai Peak were to the south, with lots of snow relatively speaking. I spent about five minutes up top, starting my hike down at 2:25 p.m.

I simply retraced my steps back to my truck. I was able to jog-walk long stretches of the trail, and I was back to my truck by 3:15, a 55-minute descent. Looking at the map, which does not show the trail, I would guess the one-way distance to be about 2.5 miles, but the sign at the start says 3 (Forest Service signs often over estimate mileages). Perhaps that figure could be justified with all those switchbacks that occur in some spots, including near the top. In any case, I was happy to be down safe and happy to have hiked the peak now. Conditions were excellent all around.

I still had the drive out, which I was looking forward to, slightly nervous. Even though it was a decent road, I used 4-wheel drive to guard against tire slipping or fishtailing. I took most of it in 1st or 2nd gear, and had no troubles at all. I was back to US-93 a little before 4 p.m., the whole side journey, including drive, taking me just over three hours.

Back on US-93, I had an eventless drive to my parentsí place in Henderson, and a productive few days at the convention. I drove back to Arizona that Sunday.

I have seen trip reports in which people took smaller vehicles up that road. In dry conditions, it is a good road, as dirt roads go. I would suggest to be aware that it is still a narrow, steep mountain road with big drops. Not all passenger vehicles are the same, and the combination of slope and narrowness could be a little much for a car with narrow tires and a weak engine.

The trail itself was constructed between 1992-95 by volunteers, the CCC and even some inmates from the Mohave County Corrections. The area, not surprisingly, is full of old mines and claims, some shafts still open for the unwary. Although this route steers clear of the mines, be aware of this, especially if exploring off the road. Lastly, if you have time, visit Chloride. It is a neat relic of a town that still hangs on as a collection of old-timer miners, hippie artists and people who donít want questions asked.

(c) 2015 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.