The Mountains of Arizona • www.surgent.net
Cintura Hill • West Summit • Mule Mountains
• Arizona State Trust Land/BLM
• Cochise County


Cintura Hill from the northeast. The pointy peak is not the highpoint. The highpoint is slightly behind
 

Typical ridge scene
 

The summits reappear as I ascend the ridge
 

The last saddle below the peaks. East Cintura is left, West Cintura is right, slightly higher
 

Closing in on East Cintura's top
 

Look over at West Cintura
 

Top of East Cintura
 

West Cintura
 

Top thereof
 

Look back at East Cintura
 

View down the ridge I ascended
 

View west: the main Mule Mountains. Ballard and Fissure are the high peaks, then in the distance is Juniper Peak. Mural Hill is roughly centered but blends in with the background peaks.
 

All images

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Date: February 12, 2024 • Elevation: 6,141 feet • Prominence: 581 feet • Distance: 4.4 miles • Time: 4 hours • Gain: 1,960 feet (gross) • Conditions: Sunny and cold, snow up high

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Cintura Hill lies on the east edge of the Mule Mountains, about four miles north of state route AZ-80 where the Double Adobe Road branches off, and then north on High Lonesome Road. I found a report on HikeArizona which caught my attention. I have not explored the peaks along this edge and saw this as a good chance to get a peak plus do some driving and splorin.

We had a big snowfall two days ago, Saturday, which kind of messed up any hiking for the weekend. It wasn't record amounts, just a few inches, and melting fast, but for a couple days, a lot of roads would be under snow or muddy, as well as the slopes. Yesterday I hiked a peak very close in town, Peak 5597. I had today, Monday, open at least through about noon and figured Cintura Hill would go fast and since it's not too far, I'd be home quickly.

I got onto eastbound AZ-80 and then turned onto Double Adobe Road, then an immediate (as in 25 feet) left again onto High Lonesome Road, which is an apt name. This road, according to the map, connects up to Davis Road about fifteen miles north. I wasn't going that far today, but wanted to see how the road was, plus get a feel for the area in general.

The road is gravelled hard-pack, well maintained and wide. I crept along at about 25 miles per hour. The land here is a mix of private, public (BLM) and State Trust. I went four miles (just past milepost 4) and turned left onto an unnamed track heading west, paralleling an arroyo. Cintura Hill rose a mile west, a big hump of a peak, its twin summits still covered in snow.

I was able to drive the track in a little over a half mile to a turn-around with a fire ring. The track does continue but is very rough immediately after this turn-around. I rolled in about 8:45 a.m., the day sunny and chilly, about 40°, but not uncomfortable. I sensed it would warm nicely very soon. I was walking a little before 9 a.m..

Cintura (Spanish for "waist") Hill is equal parts State Trust and BLM, and the track I drove in on was on State Trust land. I had a map color-coded so I knew who owned what. There was some private land farther west. I intended to stay off the private land if at all possible. There were no restrictive signs anywhere. I could see what looked like a residence about a mile to the west, but I would not need to go there.

I walked into the thorny brush, which was thick and dense. There were ocotillo and mesquite trees too, and abundant grass and cactus, so this initial few dozen yards went slow. I tied a surveyor ribbon onto a high branch so I'd know where I parked on the hike out. I was on the desert flats, about a half mile northeast of the base of the peak's northeast ridge.

Then, I came upon the arroyo, which was a big one. The dip into and out of it was about ten feet, and in some places vertical crumbly cliffs, not to mention densely-choked with brush. I got through this just fine, but it was scratchy. I hoped it would be like this all the way in. Fortunately, once past the arroyo, the heavy foliage decreased.

The next half mile was fast, walking over open ground with minimal brush and plenty of lanes. I came to a fence. This was part of the private section north of the peak. I found a huge gap in the barbed-wires and gave in to temptation, crossing onto this property. Within minutes I came to another fence and was able to step over it, back on public/state land. I had to drop into and out of one more arroyo, then once past it, was now at the base of the long ridge I planned to ascend. I was about a mile and a half from the peak, about 1,500 feet below it.

I got busy walking. From a distance, these slopes looked steep, whereas the higher ridge didn't look so bad. But once on the slopes, they laid back very nicely and weren't a problem at all. The rocks were the usual: most held, some wanted to roll. There were no cliffs or annoying rock or scree bands. The ocotillo, on the other hand, were extremely thick. I had to zig and zag and zig some more to find lanes through them. I had about 600 feet to gain up this lower steeper slope. AT one point high on this slope I heard some commotion — some cattle were up here trying to run away from me! I was equal parts impressed, surprised and slightly annoyed at seeing the cattle. I had to walk around one guy, as he just stared at me.

In time I was above this slope, and the gradient lessened a little bit, even flat in some spots. The ocotillo lessened too, now more agave on the high ridge. I surmounted a soft bump and had views again of the peaks. Cintura Hill has two pointed summits, the western one being the highest, but from below it's hard to tell. The ridge I was on was taking me to the eastern summit, so I'd be climbing it anyway.

Once on the higher ridge, the going was easier and fast, the brush not being much of an issue. The rocks generally behaved and there was nothing to block my view. I was encountering just the tiniest of snow patches here, but up ahead could see it was almost all white for the last couple hundred feet.

I topped out on one more ridge bump, then dropped about thirty feet to the saddle below the top, still looking at at least 250 feet to go. The grade steepened here, and I hoped the snow wouldn't be a hindrance. At first, it was just patches within the grasses and rocks, but soon, it was mostly snow, where just the tops of the rocks and grass clumps poked out. But the snow was soft, not icy or hard, and never more than a few inches deep. I was concerned that I'd step on some snow and break through into the space between two rocks and suddenly bust an ankle. So I went slow here and tested each step.

Toward the top, the gradient lessened again. I angled slightly right and walked below a small cliff at the very top, popping out right at the eastern summit's rock pile. I stood up to it and snapped an image. Looking over at the west summit, it was clear it was higher by about fifteen feet. The rock pile here was impressive. Not really a cairn, but a round mound of rocks about four feet in diameter and a couple feet high, obviously placed here by hand over a few hours of effort. For a peak that might get one person a decade on it, why someone would go through the trouble to do this was ... bemusing. Or something like that.

I then descended off this peak on its steeper west slopes, but there was no snow here, the demarcation being pretty obvious (see my photos for an example). It was about a 150-foot drop to the saddle between the two peaks, then a 170-foot gain to the western summit, the highpoint of Cintura Hill. It had taken me two hours, covering 2.2 miles, to get here.

The top holds a small cairn, a more traditional summit cairn about a foot high. I found a register in it. Bob Martin, Mark Nicholls and Richard Joseph were here in November 1994. Then no one until 2016, then a trio in 2018, then me, in 2024. Wouldn't be surprised to be the only summitter of the roaring twenties. The day had warmed into the 50s, to where I could shed a layer. It was sunny and calm and gorgeous. I got a great view of the "backside" of the Mule Mountains, the higher ridges still under snow, the lower peaks and ridges partially under snow. I could see the Chiricahua Mountains 30 miles away under heavy snow, and the Pinaleño Mountains about 80 miles away, under snow. I spent about fifteen minutes sitting and relaxing. I enjoyed this summit very much.

I considered side-hilling past the eastern peak to get back to the ridge, but the snowy slopes made me reconsider. I chose to just retrace my route, even stepping in my own bootprints as I descended the snowy slope. Going down went quicker as I had gravity helping, but I still had to move carefully with the abundant rocks and brush and opportunities to trip or twist or bust an ankle.

The outbound hike took about 90 minutes and went pretty much without a break. I enjoyed looking out over the big desert valley. There isn't much out here, just scattered homesteads. This side of the Mule Mountains probably gets very little activity, it felt like I was a hundred miles from town.

Once back on the desert flats, I hiked on a bearing using the Chiricahua Mountains as my "azimuth". I knew I wouldn't see my car until I was feet from it, but I also knew I had some failsafes, as I'd hit the track no matter what. Once I crossed into and out of that first big arroyo, I then started looking for my ribbon, but surprise, I came immediately onto the road.

I knew I had to be west of where I parked, so I walked east and within a couple minutes saw my ribbon then my car. I had come out about 200 feet to the west, and that was mainly because I was following lanes whenever I could. I was back to my car almost at 1 p.m. on the nose, a 4-hour round trip hike. I was surprised later when I learned I had put on over 1,900 feet of elevation gain for the entire hike. I was tired but feeling good.

I didn't change, I just started the car and drove out, inspecting the land on both sides of High Lonesome for future hikes on my agenda. The private lands don't look built-up or lived on. One had very old signs about a wildlife refuge. It's possible these are mine-owned lands but I don't know that for sure. I was back home within 20 minutes.

Cintura Hill was a fantastic hike and deserving of more attention. It is remote, though, and I understand most people won't come all this way to hike what is essentially a hidden bump in the hinterlands of the Mule Mountains.

(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.