The Mountains of Arizona •
Limestone Mountain • Chiricahua Mountains
• Coronado National Forest
• Cochise County

Limestone Mountain as seen from Rucker Road at dawn

A view of the peak and the ridges. I went up the one at left in the sun, which then curves west for the summit roughly in the center

Starting my walk, aiming for the lowest slope ahead

About halfway up, a view of the rest of the ridge

Another view

The steepest segment, but it wasn't bad at all

The last slope, summit ahead, but it's still set behind a little bit from this vantage

The summit. The actual cairn is about 10 feet away hidden by all this brush

Not sure what this thing is (top left), a view north from the wooded summit, the summit cairn, and a mine shaft about halfway up on the ridge. It's not capped and it would be real easy to fall in

Now walking down, a view east. The distant peaks are in New Mexico

Lower down, more open views to the north, peaks in the Chiricahua range

Limestone Peak as I exit

All images

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The Arizona
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Date: January 17, 2024 • Elevation: 7,186 feet • Prominence: 1,226 feet • Distance: 5.2 miles • Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes • Gain: 1,950 feet • Conditions: Superb, clear skies, cold at first

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Limestone Mountain is a blocky massif (an uplift?) situated in the southeastern Chricahua Mountains, at the southeast tip of the Coronado National Forest boundary. For most people in Arizona, it's a multi-hour road journey just to get close to it. For me, it is an easy 50-mile drive to the unofficial trailhead.

I literally planned this about as last minute as possible. The previous night, I saw a report and some images by DixieFlyer on HikeArizona, which sold me. The terrain looked very manageable. Honestly, I had done little homework on this peak, and assumed it to be choked with brush or forest. But upon seeing that it's a mostly-open ridge walk through typical brush (not gruesome brush), I immediately was interested. I knew I had a few hours the next day (being today), I decided to not overthink it and just go for it.

I was on the road at 6:20 a.m., and twenty minutes later stopped for gas and snacks at a gas station in Douglas. I then followed AZ-80 northeast into the mountains for another 30 miles, give or take, to the signed Rucker Canyon Road. The sun was rising just about now.

Rucker Canyon Road heads northwest across private and State Trust land, much of the immediate area part of some big ranch. Limestone Mountain is the big peak directly ahead, with big cliffs facing south and west, and longer inclines to the north and east, which is why I wonder if this is an uplift. About six or seven miles later, I passed the ranch buildings and entered into the Coronado Forest. The road was now marked FR-74. It went north and dropped a notch in quality but was still a good road. With the sun now up, it lit the ridges nicely and I studied the one I intended to follow. The road then bent around to the northwest, doing an end-run around a smaller parcel of private property.

I then followed a branch to the south, FR-4357, following what others have mentioned. This is called Shake Gulch, but I did not see this on any map. I parked in a clearing surrounded by trees. It was cold for now, in the low 30s, but clear and calm. I bundled up and got my pack on, and started walking at 7:30 a.m..

I walked this road a little ways, then took off south through the trees and into and out of two creekbeds, before climbing up a gentle slope until I was above the trees with more open views. Cattle are in the area and I scared up a couple. They have beaten in some paths that helped me for at least the first few hundred feet. The brush wasn't bad at all. It was thick but always with lanes to follow. The terrain itself was pleasant and not too steep. It was, not surprisingly, a lot of limestone rock, in rubble form, or in expose ledge rock or small cliff form. Whenever I could, I walked on these exposed rock portions as the limestone offered very secure footing. It had warmed a little and I shed a layer on the way.

I followed whatever lanes I could find, the cowpaths having ceased after a certain point. This initial ridge aims for a small nubbin along the main ridge, coming to a bump at 6,160 feet, then dropping about twenty feet. Only once or twice did I have to push through the brush. The rest of the time I was able to keep to mostly open terrain. At this nubbin, I had gained about 800 feet in about a mile. The peak was directly ahead, partially hidden for now. But the ridge from here looked very friendly.

The ridge steepened again but stayed mellow. Partway up past the lowpoint on the ridge was an open vertical mine shaft. The big pile of rocks leading up to it was enough of a hint, but it would be very easy to not be paying attention and go right in. Question: why a mine shaft here?

The steepest segment came next. From below it looks most forested, and yes, the trees do become more abundant here, but I was able to stay mostly open, and only a couple times used my hands to balance as I eased up a rock. I wouldn't call it scrambling. The trees aren't big pines, but mainly mountain oaks. The lower brush is agave, sawgrass, prickly-pear, various other cactus, and plenty of grass.

Above this steepest segment, the grade leveled and the highpoint ridge was visible ahead, but the summit was still hidden. I gained another 150 feet, then followed the ridge as it was almost level now, the summit up ahead somewhere. The trees were much bigger and more dense here, blocking views. I came upon a cylindrical structure that looks like a water catchment cistern, and then I tripped on one of its guy wires. The summit was just a few more feet behind. It took a few moments for me to find the cairn.

The one-way hike had covered about 2.5 miles with almost 2,000 feet of gain, in 2 hours. I was feeling very good about how it all went. I spent a few minutes relaxing and signing into the log. Scraps of paper went back to the 1990s and the Southern Arizona Hiking Club used to come here a lot. Views for photos were hard to come by from the summit itself. I waited until I was down slightly for some of the more panoramic views and images. The best views were mostly east and south, looking at peaks well into New Mexico and some in Old Mexico.

I hiked down the same ridge, and had no troubles at all. A few times I got tangled in some branches but I just pushed through it, and really did not feel like finding a work-around. I also made sure to avoid that mineshaft. I was back to my car about 11 a.m., a 3 hour, 30 minute round trip hike. It had warmed nicely, into the 60s. Even with this warm and dry weather, there were a few snow patches hidden in crooks and under bushes at various points along the hike. The snow did not cause any issues.

The drive home took a little under an hour, and I got busy answering emails and doing math-related things. I was elated to be successful on this peak because as of 24 hours ago, it wasn't on my radar at all. It turned out to be a simple, no fuss, no hassle peak. Not too long, never too steep, solid footing, brush was manageable, no unnecessary cliffs or scree slopes. It was a delight to hike.

(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.