|(Updated April 2016)|
Mohon Peak is a remote, seldom visited and seldom seen mountain located in an area of Arizona dominated by large ranch properties and bad roads that effectively keep the public out of the area. The peak is the highest point of the Mohon Mountains, which run north-south roughly along the Yavapai-Mohave county boundary. The peak can be seen from Interstate-40 and from mountaintops in and around Prescott, but it is always far in the distance.
It is of interest to peakbaggers for its status as a range highpoint and one of the 73 mountains in the state with at least 2,000 feet of prominence. Otherwise, very few people are willing to battle the bad roads and the long distances to bother with this peak. The actual climbing is easy as the slopes lie back and there are very few cliffs or rock barriers to contend with. Brush is usually light, except at the very top.
The peak technically lies within a square-mile section of land owned by the Arizona State Trust. However, this is in a checkerboard of sections in which alternating sections are owned by the O-RO Ranch, and the State Trust lands between are leased to the O-RO. Thus, much of the trek to the summit will be on private property. This fact will drive people away from this peak too.
The O-RO is one of Arizona's largest ranch properties. It includes the 144-square mile "Baca Grant Float #5", a vestige of a centuries-old Spanish land grant originally situated in New Mexico, plus hundreds of square miles of deeded and leased sections north and west of the "float". The O-RO Ranch encompasses over 250,000 acres and is essentially one big blank spot on the map. No one gets there by accident, and those who do usually encounter gates barring forward progress. The O-RO never allows visitors onto its property.
The combination of remoteness, bad roads, a reclusive ranch property and a peak that is interesting but not that interesting will keep its visitation to essentially a handful of people per year. You really do need a lot of motivation to want to come here and climb this peak. If you are visiting Arizona and don't want to hassle with Mohon Peak, there are better places to climb nearby.
Mohon Peak as seen near Gonzales Canyon
Mohon Peak is named for Jim Mahone, a Hualapai Indian born about 1854. Mahone was a scout and tracker and a member of General Crook's Indian Suppression forces of the 1870s. He lived until 1949, aged about 95 years old, given that his birth year is uncertain. His nephew, Fred Mahone, became a leader of the Hualapai Nation and was instrumental in getting the Hualapai Indian Reservation established on the bluffs overlooking the Grand Canyon.
The spelling of the peak is an "adaptation" of the name Mahone. Later maps call the peak Mohone, and current maps simply drop the final "e". Much of the western portions of the current-day O-RO Ranch was part of the old Mahon Ranch. Clearly, Mahon, Mahone, Mohone and Mohon are all variations of the same name. The pronunciation is also uncertain. There seems to be no consensus because no one knows about the peak in the first place. Assuming it sounds like the name "Mahone", it would be pronounced with a long "o" on the second syllable. Most people (as in the 3 dozen people who have climbed it) pronounce it "Moe-hawn" peak.
The O-RO Ranch is the most recent iteration of the "Baca Grant Float #5". The Cabeza de Vaca (Baca) family was given a land grant by Spain in what is today north-central New Mexico, this being in the 18th Century. The United States Government usually honored pre-existing major land grants and "ranchos" as the surveyors traveled west in the 19th Century. However, the original land grant in New Mexico had been settled upon, and the United States Government offered the heirs of the Baca family five non-contiguous "floats" of land as a swap: two in New Mexico, one in Colorado, and two in Arizona. The heirs accepted and in all cases, turned right around and sold the properties.
The float in Colorado has in recent years been purchased by the National Park Service and included enough watershed to allow for the establishment of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The other float in Arizona was located in Rio Rico, north of Nogales, and was mis-surveyed (possibly deliberately), resulting in a confusing mish-mash of land ownership, which even today still causes issues for people in that area.
It's "Float #5" that changed hands over the years, now known as the O-RO Ranch. It is a cattle property and is so large that its cowboys and support staff live on the land months at a time, following the cattle and living out of tents, with a chuck wagon in tow. It's a fascinating place, but a very reclusive place. They prefer to maintain a very low profile. You can read about the O-RO at author Kathy McCraine's website
Before you consider a climb, be aware that portions of the hike cross the O-RO property, and that they don't mess around if they find you. You enter onto the property entirely of your own volition, and be ready to accept any consequences that may result.
From US Highway 93 a few miles north of Wikieup, turn off onto either Upper or Lower Trout Creek Road. Both roads converge a few miles in. Drive in a few miles, where you will reach the intersection of Bogles Ranch Road and Upper Trout Creek Road.
Head east on Bogles Ranch Road, going up and over the Aquarius Mountains. After cresting the Aquarius Mountains, Mohon Peak can be seen off in the distance for the first time. About 12.8 miles from the Bogles Road/Upper Trout Creek Road intersection, come to a signed intersection with Wagon Bow Road. There is a new Arizona Game and Fish Public Access kiosk here. Sign in and take a free ranch pass.
Turn left onto Wagon Bow Road, and drive 0.7 mile to the signed intersection with Wagon Bow Trail. Turn right onto Wagon Bow Trail (going east). This road bends north then east again, and comes to the signed intersection with Torok Road, 1.7 miles after the turn from Wagon Bow Road. Turn left onto Torok, and drive 0.4 miles to the signed intersection with Great Western Road. Turn right onto Great Western, and start driving east then north on this road road. This area is open and evidently being developed with lots for sale, although no one seems to be buying anything out here. In case you are interested, check with the Wagon Bow Ranch
Great Western Road will rumble north past a pile of boulders, top out on a soft rise, then start descending gently toward Winslow Canyon. From the main Bogles Ranch Road, this is about 4 miles in. Up to this point, any vehicle can manage these roads in dry conditions. In winter, it snows here and when wet, some of these roads turn into big mud puddles.
The road into Winslow Canyon becomes rocky and steep, and you need 4-wheel drive. Descend into the canyon and carefully up the other side, where the road is heavily eroded. If your vehicle has sufficient clearance and power, rumble north, dropping into and out of Gonzales Canyon, and then north some more up a soft rise north of Little Mesa Tank. You have to park here. The road past this point is undrivable. From Bogles Ranch Road, this is about 7 miles in.
The road's condition within Winslow and Gonzales Canyons will determine how far you can proceed. In 2010, I found the road completely washed out within Winslow Canyon. In 2016, it was functioning again, but in rough shape. The issue is large rocks, and ruts big enough to hide a small army in. We actually parked within Winslow Canyon on out 2016 hike, figuring that we could walk faster than we would be driving those last miles to Little Mesa Tank.
You'll either start near Winslow Canyon, or near Little Mesa Tank, based on the condition of the roads and your vehicle. The road distance between Winslow Canyon and Little Mesa Tank is about three miles.
The road goes slightly past Little Mesa Tank and makes a bend left. There's an old air-strip to the west. You want a lesser track that continues north. It soon drops 270 feet into Dividing Canyon. Down low, the road is covered over in 4-foot boulders, and probably last saw a Jeep in the 1970s. In the bottom of Dividing Canyon, angle right (east) and soon, come to a gate and fence.
Cross to the other side, and stay low in the trees for about a quarter-mile until you meet a much better road. This road angles left and steeply uphill, gaining about 500 feet to top out on a long ridge. It then drops about 75 feet. Stay eastbound and soon pass Goldwater Tank. Keep trending east. The track gains uphill. At the highpoint of this track, angle left and start the off-trail trek. From Little Mesa Tank to here is about 3 miles, or about 6 from Winslow Canyon.
The off-trail hiking is easy. The brush is very low, mowed down to the nubs by the cattle that feed on it. Follow the ridges upward. You aim for Peak 6406 up ahead, which is a noticeable pointed bump about 1,200 feet higher. Along the way, there are a couple easy cliff bands to work through. Angle left of Peak 6406 and achieve a saddle immediately to its east. Keep hiking uphill, aiming for another pointy bump on the skyline ahead. This is near the summit. You'll come to a pass at about 7,100 feet. From there, it's a brushy 400 feet to the top. The off-trail portion also covers about 3 miles each way, with about 2,300 feet of gain.
Allow about 6-10 hours round trip depending on where you parked. The hiking and navigation is very easy. It's long and tedious.
You are reminded that you are on land deeded or leased to the O-RO for most of this hike.
Mohon Peak from the high saddle ... almost there!
A distance view of the peak from Dividing Canyon
There is no dependable resource on current conditions. If it's wet and snowy in the state, then so is this area. If it's dry, then so is this area. The best time to be here would be in late Spring. Summer gets hot, Fall has too many hunters, and Winter is cold and snowy.
There is no developed camping in this area. You might be able to camp unseen within the canyons.
External LinksTrip Report (www.surgent.net) 3/5/16 .
Mohon Peak from near Peak 6406