My wife and I spent our second wedding anniversary in Sierra Vista with plans to hike Miller. We chose the Montezuma Trail from the south, and started up around 8 a.m. in warm weather. Once on the main ridge the weather just got plain hot, but some developing clouds occasionally occulded the sun. We met a couple scouts/agents/coyotes - whatever you want to call them. They were heading south - toward Mexico. I know enough Spanish to make simple conversation. We wanted no part of them and they no part of us, so after some 'buenas dias' we went on our own way. Later, while descending, we came upon two fully armed (and armored) BP agents searching for a 'party of 20'. We told them what we'd seen - three hours earlier. They chatted with us then hiked south, essentially giving us an armed sweep and escort off the mountain. We asked if we were in any danger and they said no, hikers are very safe - the crossers will go to any length to avoid meeting with hikers. However, leaving your car at the TH might be tempting - maybe. Use general caution here.
Chris and I summitted Miller Peak on 11-25-05. We had a great hiked despite the blustery wind conditions compiled with the mostly exposed trail going from Montezuma Pass. Miller was our second choice for a hike because the two trails up Mount Wrightson were both closed due to damage from an earlier forrest fire. Only saw two other people during the hike, a ranger and later a man with his dog (and beer) near the summit. No sight of illegal immigrants but lots of trash throughout. The landscape was incredible...high forests, scrubland with incredible views of the surrounding valleys including sightlines well into Mexico. It was great seeing Mount Wrightson, Mount Lemmon, and Baboquivari Peak from a new perspective. Would definitely recommend Miller Peak
Duane and I hiked Miller Peak for our fifth Ultra-prominence peak in four days as part of our SW Ultra sweep of nine such peaks in nine days. We had been told by Tucson's Andy Martin that this trail is frequented by illegals, as it begins within a very short distance of the Mexican border. When we got high on the peak we indeed found much debris strewn under the trees in places. Then at the junction of the trail to the summit we encountered a group of illegals who had quickly attempted to hide when they heard us approaching. We headed on up the trail to the summit, and while there a border patrol helicopter appeared and began scouring the ridges and hillsides looking for the group. We weren't quite sure how to handle this situation, but on the theory that they would scatter and hide out alone, we headed back down to where the chopper was patrolling. At one point we made ourselves obvious so they would see who was with the car down at the trailhead, then continued on down the trail, taking quite a few photos of the chopper as it came near, until we were gone from the area. As we descended the record temperatures started to become very uncomfortable, but happily a thunderstorm was forming up on the peak, and the clouds soon blotted out the sun to make our journey much more comfortable. Enjoyable mountain.
Picked the Lutz Canyon trail by process of elimination: Montezuma Pass sees too much smuggling activity; Ramsey Vista requires you to drive up much of the elevation gain; and Miller Canyon just didn't look appealing on the topo map. That left Lutz Canyon. It's pretty good aerobic exercise if you hustle, and a nice, shady trail for much of the climb to the Crest Trail junction. I'll add Lutz as a route for the benefit of peakbaggers-on-a-schedule--it's just three hours up, two down, 9.4 miles roundtrip with 3765 feet of elevation change.
From Montezuma Pass parking; 10.3 miles RT with about 3000 gain, 3000 loss on a well defined trail. Lots of use by illegal immigrants; this is not a good solo hike. Great weather, clouds, views, snow right at summit with no evidence of trail; followed old footprints to old fire lookout and peak register.
Lots of trash on trail.
I summitted Miller with my Boy Scout troop, Troop 444 of Sierra Vista. I had a cold, so it was slow going. I was one of the last of the troop to reach the summit, where I took a short nap before heading down. I attempted Miller on November 2, 2004, but it was very windy up on the ridge and I wussed out before I got anywhere near the top.
A large and impressive Ultra-Prominent Peak.