The Mountains of Arizona

Peak 7091

Peak 7091 is centered, with Black Mountain Peak at left. This image was taken from on top of Peak 6228

Starting up the slope of Peak 7091

Antenna just below the top

Summit cairn

North view, Mount Glenn, the Stroghold, and some low-lying clouds

Peak 6228

Peak 6228 is centered, as I descend from Peak 7091

Peak 6228 in shadow, Sala Benchmark Ridge in sunlight

Top ridge of Peak 6228, showing some recent burn marks

Summit of Peak 6228, and Sala Ridge behind

All images

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Middlemarch Madness

Peak 7091 • Peak 6228

Today, I would return to the southern Dragoon Mountains to climb a couple peaks that I had skipped on my previous visits here. Peak 6228 (on the map, 6228 according to Lidar) rises above Middlemarch Pass and across from the let-in point for a hike up Sala Benchmark, while Peak 7091 rises south a couple miles, across a saddle from Black Diamond Peak and north of Peak 7155, which I climbed a couple weeks ago.

I chose these two peaks today because I knew where to park and the routes, so not much advanced planning was needed. Yesterday had been cloudy with some rain, and incessantly strong winds with gusts above 50 miles per hour. This morning started calm and it looked like the clouds had mostly moved on, but there was still some cloudiness and a small chance of rain in places. I figured I could hike these peaks in the rain, or bail easily if it got too wet.

I left Bisbee a little after 7 a.m., and stopped in Tombstone for snacks. An after-effect of yesterday's unsettled weather was fog, something extremely rare in the deserts. The San Pedro River valley was under an inversion layer of dense fog, yet the road I was on, AZ-80, was outside the fog and clear. The fog demarcation was very distinct.

As I left Tombstone, heading north, I dropped into the inversion layer near the Boot Hill Cemetery, then on to Middlemarch Road. For about fifteen miles, I drove through the thick fog. I had about a quarter-mile of visibility, so I could see far enough so as not to be concerned. It wasn't like that zero-visibility tule fog in California's San Joaquin Valley. I think this may be the third or fourth time I've encountered fog since moving to Arizona in 1992. By the time I was approaching the Coronado National Forest boundary, I had gained enough elevation to be out of the fog. Within a couple hours, all the fog had dissipated.

Peak 7091
• Dragoon Mountains
• Coronado National Forest
• Cochise County

Date: March 16, 2024 • Elevation: 7,091 feet • Prominence: 451 feet • Distance: 3.5 miles • Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes • Gain: 1,370 feet • Conditions: Cool with abundant clouds


I drove Middlemarch Road (also designated FR-345 on the forest lands) to FR-4393, and parked in a small pullout nearby the junction. This is where I parked when I hiked Peak 7155. I had planned to hike Peak 7091 on the return from tagging Peak 7155, but I bailed off that peak and took a different route back to my car. I was the only one here and it was cool and still, temperature about 45°.

I got my stuff together and started walking at 8:20. I followed FR-4393 all the way up to a saddle that connects Peak 7091 to Black Diamond Peak, a gain of about 900 feet in about a mile and a half. The walk was eventless and not difficut, but tedious and sometimes frustrating when loose rocks would roll on me. I was at the saddle after about 40 minutes. A low cloud with a dark underbelly had parked itself on top of Black Diamond Peak, cooling things down. There were patches of sun in the surrounding hills and desert valleys, but this cloud stayed put for the whole hike.

At the saddle, I turned and started up the spine of the ridge to the top. There is a track that runs level almost half-way around the peak, but it did not appear to offer any advantages of following it. I stayed on the ridge, which was open, a mix of grass, scrub, small trees and plenty of rocks, including limestone outcrops and cobbles. I even sensed a path in segments.

The climb from the saddle to the top would entail about 450 feet of gain. Halfway up, the trees and brush closed in, but I was always able to push through or squeeze through the tangles. The footing was reasonably stable, the rocks forming into tiers and heaps. This fed me onto an open nubbin with a small pit (an old mine dig?). I angled right and passed a solar-powered antenna structure. The highpoint was just beyond it, and I was soon at it, a one-way hike of about 1.35 miles with about 1,370 feet of gain.

The summit was small, with a well-constructed cairn and the register buried within it. I had to deconstruct the whole cairn to get to it. Someone was here last month, but typically, this peak would go years between visitors. Names went back to 1991 and featured the usual ones. I signed myself in and rebuilt the cairn, but did not bury the register within it. Instead, I built a smaller cairn abutting the bigger one so that the next visitor doesn't need to take apart a whole cairn to get to it.

Views were marginal due to the clouds. Looking south, I could see Black Diamond Peak and Peak 7155, but they were in heavy shadow. North, I could see Mount Glenn, Sala Benchmark Hill and the Stronghold, some of it in sun. It was moderately breezy up here and chilly. I sat briefly for a drink but did not stay long.

I returned the same way, there not being much possible variation. I was back to the saddle after fifteen minutes and to my car about an hour later. It was 10:35 a.m. now, and I had been gone a little under two hours and fifteen minutes. I was happy to tag this peak but admit it's nothing special.

Black Diamond Peak remains unvisited by me for the time being. It looks impossible, or very difficult, to approach it from the saddle I was just on, due to cliffs. The usual route is to sidehill a half mile across its western slopes, then follow its southeast ridge to the top. That traverse sucked when I hiked to Peak 7155. I did not enjoy it, and am not eager to do it again. I will place Black Diamond on the back burner for awhile, maybe explore different approaches.

I rested briefly back at my car before tackling Peak 6228.

Peak 6228
• Middlemarch Pass

Elevation: 6,228 feet (Lidar) • Prominence: 308 feet (Lidar) • Distance: 1.1 miles • Time: 50 minutes • Gain: 505 feet • Conditions: Tad warmer


From my car, I hiked up the slope behind it, placing me onto slightly-sloping terrain with the peak directly ahead. I could see some cattle on the slopes above. Brush here was light, being mostly grass, cactus and some scattered low trees. I had to drop about 20 feet into a drainage then up its other side, to get on to the peak's southern slope.

Being such a small peak in stature, there wasn't much to this one. I walked steeply uphill through more grass, trees and rocks forming into small tiers about two feet high, or just scattered about waiting to roll out from under my feet. I aimed for a rock outcrop up high, and was to it after about ten minutes. I bypassed the handful of cattle along the way. I was not grass, ergo, I was nothing to them.

Past the rocks, the small summit ridge flattened out a little. There was one rock band to get past, I skirted it on its left, then up an easy slope and I was on top, the one-way mileage a little over a half mile. The top ridge appeared to have been burned recently. Some of the trees and plants were blackened, there was ash in the dirt, and it looked fresh, as in the past year.

I signed into the summit register, then replaced it into the cairn. I shot a couple images, but the heavy clouds and shadows limited the clarity. Some of the nearby peaks were in sunlight, contrasting nicely with the shadows. Unfortunately, capturing that in a photograph is hit or miss. While on top, I heard a rumble. Looking down, a convoy of about six big beefy trucks were driving up to Middlemarch Pass. There were also a few random smaller Polaris-type vehicles on these roads.

The hike down went well, and I ended up aiming for the road anyway, and following that back to my car. This hike took just under an hour and went very fast with no logistical issues. I'm glad I hiked it, but like Peak 7091, it's not something to get excited about.

The peak was a borderline ranked peak, but Lidar shows that its summit elevation is 6,228 feet and almost certainly a ranked peak, but not by much. I was pleased to be successful on both and to be able to "fill in" these two peaks after bypassing them on earlier visits.

I drove home from here, arriving about 30 minutes later. There was a big biker rally going on in Bisbee, so after I showered, I drove into the Old Town and walked around all the motorcycles and people for about an hour, enjoying the vibe.

(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. .