The Mountains of Arizona •
The Dome • Tombstone Hills
• Arizona State Trust Land
• Cochise County

The Dome rises to the left, Three Brothers/Mays Hill to the right

Closer in now

Now much closer

On the slopes

Summit is just ahead

Look over at Three Brothers (Mays Hill)

North, Dragoons

Summit cairn

South, Cerro San Jose, the Mules

Southwest, Huachuca Range, the lower hills by the San Pedro

All images

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Date: March 20, 2024 • Elevation: 5,112 feet • Prominence: 575 feet • Distance: 5 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 912 feet (gross) • Conditions: High clouds, cool but not cold

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The Dome is a hill a couple miles northwest of Tombstone, between Charleston Road and highway AZ-82. From the north (AZ-82), it stands out for its domey appearance. It is not the highest point of this batch of hills, though. Nearby Three Brothers (Mays Hill) is slightly higher. However, The Dome appeared to be a no-fuss hike and I wanted to hike it, and use this opportunity to explore this section of hills for further adventures.

I left Bisbee about 6:30 a.m. and was in Tombstone about twenty minutes later. I followed Allen Street northwest out of town. It loses its pavement and is a decent dirt track for another mile or so. It passes a big conical pillar of mortared rock, the Ed Schieffelin Memorial. I'd visit it on the way out. I parked about a quarter-mile later, where a side road branches south (left). This road is gated, and signed as BLM-managed, as part of the San Pedro Riparian Corridor. My land-use maps showed this to be State Trust, so I am not sure who owns or runs this area, but the good news was that foot access was permitted.

The Dome rises about two miles in the distance. I passed the gate and walked the road, angling west, passing into and out of a couple sandy arroyos, then turning onto another branch that headed straight for the peak, The Dome rising to the left, Three Brothers (Mays) to the right. This segment went easy, being a road. It is a rough road and were vehicle traffic allowed, would require strong 4-wheel drive.

The road started to peter out, so I followed a side road that appeared to be more of a cow path as it dropped into an arroyo. Along the way a bee really started to hassle me. Just a single bee. It was still cool, but not cold, and I was mindful there could be a hive nearby. I did the only smart thing to do with a pesky bee: run. I ran until the bee gave up and left me alone.

I dropped into the arroyo, and followed it briefly, exiting by following a cow path up onto the banks and the sloping lower apron of The Dome, which by now was directly in front of me. Cow paths helped as I passed through the acacia brush. Up on the hillside to my left were actual cows, feeding on whatever it is they could find.

The slope steepened by increments and soon it was fairly steep, but as slopes go, not too bad. It was brushy but I could usually find a lane. The grass was minimal so I could see my feet, and the rocks either wanted to roll, or piled so that I could walk among them with some stability. There were no cliffs, and any large rock pile could be bypassed.

So I'm just moving slowly, weaving through the brush, about 80% of the way to the top when I look down and noticed my camera case (and camera) has fallen off! I keep it looped in my belt, but apparently after a stop to take care of business, I didn't latch my belt properly and it loosened and dammit, my camera and case are somewhere down below, and I have no idea where.

I decided since I was so close to the top, to just barge up and tag it. This I did. I used my cell phone to take images. The top was grassy and rockier than below. Views were good, the sky being blue but with high cirrus clouds, temperature about 60°. I signed into the register. The peak sees a small stream of visitors, maybe one or two a year. The Southern Arizona Hiking Club came here a few times.

Going down, I hoped to locate my camera. I tried to take the same line down as best I could. There were some landmarks I used as waypoints, and I went slowly and looked around, but could not find the camera. This bummed me because it was a good camera, not a cheap one (about $200), and that I was so careless to lose it. I left and walked out, enjoying the fine day and the successful hike, but yeah, a little peeved at myself. Heck, I lost my GPS up on Swisshelm back in 2007 and that still bothers me.

I was back to my car soon, the round trip covering about two hours and five miles of hiking, when wandering is taken into account. I drove to the Schieffelin Memorial...

Ed Schieffelin Memorial

Ed Schieffelin was a prospector who is credited with discovering the lode of silver ore that begat a mining boom in this region in 1879. Prior to then, any white man found wandering in this region was subject to being killed by the Apache, who aggressively defended their land. Nevertheless, prospectors came here because there was so much potential for valuable ore.

There was no town of Tombstone at this time. Supposedly, the town got its name when he was told that he would find nothing but his tombstone if he tried to venture and mine in the region. Schieffelin hit the jackpot and the boom town of Tombstone was founded almost immediately. He became wealthy, but still preferred the life of a prospector. He died in Oregon just shy of his 50th birthday in 1897, and was interred within a massive stone monolith standing about 25 feet high.

The public is welcome to visit this monolith. There's not much else here, just a picnic table, but being so close to Tombstone and easy to get to, more people should at least take a look. I finally did, today.

(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.