The Mountains of Arizona

Peak 6790

Peak 5870 as viewed from the ranch complex, as I start the hike

A couple miles up, things get rockier and cliffier

Peak 6790 up a ways

Last little bit is very rocky

Summit of 6790

View northeast, Peak 5870 is down below. The white thing is a border patrol blimp

The high peaks of the Huachucas still under a lot of snow

View down the ridge I came up, and the range crest of the Huachucas

Peak 5870

Now I'm heading toward Peak 5870

Last haul up 5870

Summit of Peak 5870

Look back at Peak 6790. Ramsey Peak is the bigger one behind it

East, Mule Mountains

Hiking out, a view up canyon

Big cottonwoods, a windmill and the ranch house

The ranch house. I always liked those metal roofs

An old oven (?) on the trail, some tree scenes, and a zoom image of the blimp

All images

• • •

The Arizona
Mountains Gazetteer

Click to find out more!

Brown Canyon

Peak 6790 • Peak 5870

These two peaks lie on a ridge on the east side of the Huachuca Mountains, below Ramsey Peak and a little north of Carr Peak. There is a trail network in the canyons both north and south of the ridge, but no trails go to the tops of these two peaks. However, they get close, leaving any off-trail segments hopefully short and manageable.

I approached these peaks via Brown Canyon, which lies north of the ridge, and part of the old Brown Canyon Ranch. This ranch was founded in the late 1800s, and passed through many private owners, before being purchased by the Forest Service in 1998. Since then, the ranch houses and out-buildings have been kept up and visitors are welcome, while the old roads of the ranch up into the canyon have been repurposed into hiking paths.

I left Bisbee and was in the southern part of Sierra Vista about a half hour later. I got onto Ransey Canyon road and went in a couple miles, then turned onto the Brown Ranch access toad for another mile to the ranch buildings. There is a small parking lot, and there is a day fee to park here. I purchased my pass last night online, and can be purchased via this link.

Peak 6790
• Huachuca Mountains
• Coronado National Forest
• Cochise County

Date: February 21, 2024 • Elevation: 6,790 feet • Prominence: 472 feet • Distance: 7.3 miles • Time: 4 hours & 50 minutes whole hike • Gain: 1,900 feet (gross) • Conditions: Sunny and pleasant, very windy up high


I was just the second car in the small lot. The caretakers, a mom and young adult daughter it looked like, were out doing their rounds and they were friendly and helpful. The trail (#115) I wanted was around the side of the house. I got myself properly attired and was walking at 7:40 a.m.. It was looking like a great day: sunny and very few clouds, the temperature now about 45°, with highs in the 60s forecasted.

I was going to hike the higher peak first, which was also farthest in. I was looking at about 1,800 feet of gain in about 3.5 miles, so I got busy walking. The lower trails look like old roads, many of them wide and with a smooth, rock-less tread, and pitched gently. The "canyon" here is more like a wide valley, with grassy meadows and large trees including oak, cottonwood and sycamore. Many side paths branch off, but I always stayed on what looked like the most-obvious trail.

Slowly, I gained elevation, the trees became more dense, and the trail's condition became a little more rockier, but always good and wide. In a few spots, the trail worked up and over some exposed granite rock slabs. Two miles in, I arrived at a junction marked as "Brown Canyon Spring", about 600 feet higher in elevation. Here, a road branches left and aims for Peak 5870, which I would hike on my exit. Nearby is another trail that gains steeply to an old mine, the Pomono Mine, high on the ridge. I took a brief break here.

I still had over 1,200 feet of elevation to gain, and sure enough, the trail got a lot steeper, and at times, rocky and a little sloppy, but by and large, it was still a good, easily-walkable path with few barriers. It switchbacked up in spots, and other times just barged uphill. Along the way, it dropped about 50 feet, the only notable drop along the whole route. The trail also crossed a creek with a stone storage structure of some sort, about 4 feet high and padlocked shut. I just kept at the task until I topped out on the ridge north of Peak 6970.

Satellite images showed this peak to be heavily forested, now higher with more pines and, interestingly, a lot of agave. There is an old fence line aling the ridge and I hoped it would lead to the top, meaning there'd be some rudimentary path alongside it. Well, there was a fence, and there was a trail, but both petered out after about 50 feet. I was looking at about 475 feet of elevation gain to the top still, in about a quarter mile.

The going was slow but not difficult. The underbrush was very light, but the trees were very "branchy". Everything grew together into big tangles. I'd follow a path for a few yards, then hit a thicket of branches and push through them. My right shoulder got stabbed once and left a welt afterwards. I tied surveyor ribbon to branches so I'd find my way out easier. There was no long-distance views here in the trees, and I was concerned it could be easy to wander down a parallel ridge if I wasn't careful.

About halfway up, I came upon some backpacks, food tins and sweatshirts. This would explain the paths. These looked old but not very old, perhaps within the past year. For whatever reason, the crossers always seem to leave behind the backpacks and sweatshirts. And shoes. I've seen that on other hikes. Seems to me that you'd want to leave as little evidence as possible of your passage. It occured to me they might be using the top as a sentry position. I never saw anyone or sensed anyone was close by. Nevertheless, I boned up on some of my Spanish phrases just in case.

The last hundred feet or so was in the open and very rocky, a loose jumble of talus in heaps, not very solid at all. I eased up a few gentle chutes and more than once, a big rock (like three or four feet wide) would teeter. I moved very carefully and checked each rock before committing to it. I made the top after about twenty minutes. Now out of the trees and exposed on a ridge, I felt the full force of the wind, which blew about 40 miles per hour, just strong enough to knock me off balance. I crouched like a football lineman, keeping one hand on the rocks as I stepped to the highest rocks. I tagged them, shot a photo of two, looked for a register (no luck), and started right down. The views up top were fantastic, but I would admire them later after I downloaded my photos. The bigger peaks above me were still under heavy snow.

Going down went well, going from ribbon to ribbon, untying them as I went along. I was back to the trail quickly, glad to have tagged this peak and glad it's done with. Not many people visit this peak, apparently. Listsofjohn shows just two, Bob Martin and Mark Nicholls, from about 1993. Then me. Well, I am pretty sure a number of Mexican sentries over the years, plus a few other random peakbaggers, have been up top. But it definitely does not get a lot of visitation.

Once back on the trail, I was able to almost "run-walk" down to the Brown Canyon Spring, making excellent time. There was an older gentleman sitting on a rock nearby, the first person I'd seen since I started my hike. I sat on the nearby concrete stock trough, taking a proper break. He wanted to know how things were higher up. I mentioned it was very lovely, but windy. After a few minutes, he got moving, heading back down I think. Then I got up and started walking this road that branched southeasterly toward Peak 5870.

Peak 5870

Elevation: 5,870 feet • Prominence: 303 feet • Distance: 2.6 miles • Gain: 530 feet (gross) • Conditions: Just as windy


I followed the road for about four-fifths of a mile. It gains about 120 feet, then drops most of that along the way so that when it comes to the saddle below Peak 5870, it's only gained a net 20 feet or so. But it was easy to walk and I had good views of the peak. Portions of the road were eroded and rubbly.

Being almost a thousand feet lower than my first peak, this little peak was not as heavily forested. It was mostly grass with some oaks on its hillsides. I found a well-defined path that aimed uphill for the peak, so I followed it. It gained to a small nubbin then dropped about twenty feet to a saddle, then it lost distinction.

I just started uphill through the grass. Then I'd catch another trail and follow it, but the trail contoured around the peak, not up it, likely a game path. So I went up again and crossed another such path. The games like to bypass summits, I guess. I was on top the hill quickly, the top being open with some low rock piles. I looked around and shot some images, but didn't linger. Down below I could see a white "blimp" moored to the ground.

This blimp has been up in the air pretty much every day for years, acting as a surveillance craft for the Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security. No one flies in the blimp. It's tethered to the ground, and stays grounded if it gets too windy, such as it was today. It's crashed once or twice over the years when winds have got ahold of it. It's official name is an aerostat.

This peak also apparently sees little traffic, Listsofjohn showing just Mark Nicholls and Bob Martin from 30 years ago. However, it is pretty obvious people come up here. The trail for one thing, and the fact it's closer to the trailheads, as well as routes from the south via Ramsey Canyon. I have no idea how often people come up here but I assume a few per month is reasonable. I saw a couple ladies hiking the road below as I was on the higher slopes. They had come up from Ramsey Canyon.

This side-hike covered 1.3 miles each way with a net gain of just over 300 feet, but a gross gain of over 500 when that up-and-down along the road is figured in. This put my daily total close to 2,400 feet overall.

I hiked back to the Brown Canyon Spring and took another break. It was a little before noon and I had something to eat, plus check my texts and emails. The two-mile walk back to the buildings and my car took about a half-hour. I encountered more people out hiking and a couple mountain bikers, but it was never crowded, maybe 10 of us total on the property.

I was back to my car at 12:30 p.m., the total hike covering just short of 10 miles. The trails had all been great and the off-trail, while tiring, wasn't difficult, and I was happy to tag these two peaks, but enjoyed much more the scenery of Brown Canyon. I changed into more comfortable clothes and got moving. I got groceries in town, then drove back to Bisbee, arriving about 2:30 p.m..

(c) 2024 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. .