Cimarron Peak • Highpoint: Cimarron Mountains
• Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation
• Pima County

Cimarron Peak

Zoom image, the highpoint is the rounded hump

Mike and Matthias trekking across lots of desert

Finally at the base, a view of the ridge we'd climb

A little higher, it gets brushier

Higher up...

This is about as rocky as it got

Almost at the top, the slopes lessen slightly

A view of the highpoint

East view toward Gu Achi Peak

South view of the "benchmark" summit

Matthias and Mike at the summit

Northeast view of Table Top

West view of the Sauceda Range


Hiking down in a drainage, Matthias looks up to tell me I chose a good route

Back down on the flats, a view up at the summit. The ridge we climbed up is to the left

For those of you who like road images, here's one

Matthias does some trimming, a sign in both English and Spanglish, notes in the log from generic Tribal Members who go by numbers, not names, and car batteries up top.

The simple church in Kaka, and a bird of prey in the trees as we drove out

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Date: February 4, 2018 • Elevation: 4,124 feet • Prominence: 1,984 feet • Distance: 15.5 miles • Time: 8 hours and 40 minutes • Gain: 1,840 feet • Conditions: Clear, intense sun and very warm • Teammates: Matthias Stender, Michael Berry

Cimarron Peak is a remote mountain located on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation, about six miles from the tiny community of Kaka. The peak is easy to scale since it features long gentle slopes and no undue barriers. The biggest variable for these indian-reservation peaks is always the roads. What should have been a fast six-mile hike turned into a full-day, 15-mile march.

Michael Berry, Matthias Stender and I teamed to hike this peak, meeting one another at the main shopping mall off of Florence Boulevard in Casa Grande, 6 a.m. sharp. From there, Matthias drove us onto the Tohono O'odham Nation. We followed Route-15 to the Santa Rosa "area", then followed Routes 34 and 23 west and north through the village of Ventana, then to the even-smaller village of Kaka. All this was about 70 miles from Casa Grande, and we arrived here as the sun was rising, a little after 7 a.m.

According to this online dictionary (PDF), "kaka" means "to croak", as in the sound a frog makes. When I first moved to Arizona in 1992, Kaka showed up on my brand-new Thomas Guide street atlas of Maricopa County, all the way down at the county's southern border with Pima County. I had to go there some day. Well, some day was nearly 26 years later, and here we were. Kaka is tiny, with a small white church at its center and a few ragged homesteads in the area. Online resources say about 150 people live there. I'd be surprised if there were 15.

Up to Kaka, the roads were paved, if a little bumpy for the last few miles. The pavements ends just short of Kaka. We eased left onto a pipeline road, which went west and became rough quickly. It did not appear anyone had driven it in a while. The brush along the sides was overgrown, and there were rocks and ruts. Matthias would stop to trim the branches while Michael and I would move aside boulders and spot Matthias through a couple dicey sections. We inched forward about a mile in a half hour. At this rate, we'd be here all day.

We came to an arroyo crossing in which the far end was a near-vertical 4-foot wall. There was no way to get up that, so Matthias parked in a glen of trees. We would start walking from here. Suddenly, we had nearly five miles added to the hike, each way. We started walking at 8:10 a.m., the skies clear and the sun still low to the east. We were in the Kaka Hills. In the shade, it was rather chilly.

We walked a number of miles west along this pipeline road, emerging from the hills and into the broad Kaka Valley. The road here was fine for driving, but moot, since getting to here would have been impossible due to that creek-bed back a ways. In less than an hour, we had covered about 3 miles, placing us northeast of Cimarron Peak, a little west of a small hill that had blocked our view of Cimarron for much of the way.

We had Scott Peavy's GPS track from two years ago, where he drove to a point north of the peak and hiked its long north ridge. That was our intention too, but we saw no point to stay to the road for another two or three miles. Instead, we left the road and made a long trek across the desert, aiming southwest toward the mountain. This segment covered another couple of miles and took less than an hour. We hiked up a gentle incline to place us at the base of a ridge. Here, we took our first break.

The ground was rocky with volcanic boulders, and brushy with palo verde, cactus, creosote, ocotillo, agave and grass. With the sun up, temperatures had warmed nicely. Perhaps a little too nicely, as it was still early morning and it was already well into the 70s. With the intense sun, no shade and black volcanic rocks, the heat was noticeable. Our ridge was visible the whole way up, a series of steepish slopes, small nubbins, and higher up, a couple of rock outcrops. One of the guys said we were just 1.7 miles from the summit, 1,700 feet below.

We just got to the business of hiking up this ridge. Each of the slope sections would gain about 300-400 feet, and each time we surmounted one of those little ridge bumps, we could see the top getting closer. Toward the top, we came to a series of rock jumbles. These were easy to handle. Above them, we had one more gentle slope ahead of us before were were on the highest ridge.

Once high enough to see everything, the highpoint was close by, to the east, while a slightly-lower summit, shown with the benchmark symbol on the maps, rose to the south about a half-mile away. We had a level walk and a slight downhill to a saddle, where we found a single Nike sneaker just lying on the ground. After that, we had one more easy slope, and were we soon on the top.

We arrived at the summit at 12:30, a four-hour, twenty-minute hike. We had great conditions up here, clear skies in all directions. The top is broad, with two rockpiles. One is the summit, and we signed in, the first to do so in nearly two years. The other rockpile supposedly held a repeater box, but we did not see it. We did see a couple car batteries up here. Curiously, we didn't see much trash or other pieces of evidence of Mexican crossers up here. It was a generally clean peak.

We spent nearly 30 minutes up top. We could identify Gu Achi peak to the east, Tabel Top and Vekol Mountain to the northeast, Kitt, Coyote and Baboquivari way to the southeast, the Sauceda Range and the Ajo Mountains to the west, and dozens of other peaks in all directions. It was an enjoyable summit.

Going down, we debated following a ridge more to the east, or the north one Peavy had hiked, or even retracing our own ridge we had taken for the ascent. We hiked back generally to where we had ascended, then followed the north "Peavy" ridge down, which worked well, was never too steep, and went fast. We dropped about a thousand feet quickly.

At some point, we "bailed" from the ridge by following a drainage, which closed in a few times with a few tiny cliffs (7 feet at most) to clamber down. This went slowly due to the rocks and brush. Eventually, we were back to the desert flats. By now, we were all beat, due to the long distances and the warmth.

We followed cow paths through the desert. They beat in a well-defined path about a foot wide, and usually kick the rocks aside somehow. The tread is good and it went where we wanted, so these cow paths worked well for us. The hiking was interminable. We walked in a north-northeasterly direction, wandering through little thickets of brush, around a few small hills, aiming eventually for the road. It seemed like we'd never get there, but we did.

I was thrashed. The heat (about mid 80s, I estimate) was just enough to bring me down a notch. I was low on water, and physically beat. Plus, my back ached. We still had about four miles of road to walk, so we did that. It was nothing exciting. We were back to Matthias' vehicle at 4:50 p.m.. I was out of water, but had some waiting for me. We all got unpacked and situated, ready to get the heck home.

We exited the same way, and stopped briefly again to look at Kaka from the road. The small cemetery to the west is full of graves and crosses. Lots of people have croaked in Kaka, I surmise. We retraced our route back to Casa Grande, arriving after the sun had set. Here, Michael went on his way, while Matthias and I headed back north. I was home by about 8 p.m.

None of us tracked our hike with GPS, but it was not difficult to identify markers on a map, e.g. where we parked, where we left the road, what ridges we followed, and so forth. So I made a list of about 25 waypoints, and found the distances between each using an online distance finder, and came up with a total of 25 km hiked, or about 15.5 miles. That's a conservative figure because I rounded down each time, and some of the segments do not account for the wiggly wanderings we would have done due to the terrain. Plus, it "felt" like 15 miles.

I enjoyed the hike and enjoyed the area. The pipeline road had signs every once in a while about not digging and being careful around them. We did see a couple trash piles, bits of a car, bicycle tires, other pieces of metal or plastic, but not in any great quantities. This area --- the road and Kaka Valley --- seems to get few visitors. We could not see evidence of recent tire tracks in the road. We did see some fresh shoe prints that were not ours, but those could have been made a few days ago, too.

The hike itself went well and there was never a moment where I felt like I was in trouble. It is a pretty mountain with pretty lines. Subtract out the heat and the extra walking, and it was a lovely hike. Even with the extra walking, I had fun. I am glad I got this one checked off the list. Thanks, as usual, to Michael and Matthias. I would not have come here by myself. Getting injured out here would be bad news. No one comes here, it seems.

Cimarron Peak is on the list of the 2000-foot prominence peaks of Arizona, as an "error" peak. It has a clean prominence of 1,984 feet, with 20-foot intervals, so it is possible the prominence is between 1,984 and 2,004 feet.

(c) 2018 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.