The Dragoon Mountains rises prominently between Willcox and Benson in southeast Arizona. Mount Glenn is the highest point, but the range is best known as the location of the Cochise Stronghold, a collection of rocky cliffs and labyrinthine formations that the Chiricahua Apache Indians used as a hideout during their thirty-year guerrilla war against the United States forces. Chief Cochise, who died in 1874 (and after whom the county is named), is said to be buried in the Stronghold, but no one has ever found his grave and likely never will. These days, the Stronghold is open for hiking and exploration, a chance to consider the difficulty that American forces had in trying to track Cochise, Geronimo and their men in this forbidding landscape.
Mount Glenn, ironically, is a gentle-shaped hump of a summit, but covered over in a very thick matte of grass, scrub and trees, in places grown so close together that one must literally crawl through the small openings to get to the top. Otherwise, the hike is fairly straightforward, a lot of cross-country hiking up open, grassy slopes, ridges and some rock barriers. Relatively few people bother with Mount Glenn due to the brush. It's of interest for its range highpoint status and its prominence of 2,883 feet.
Clouds obscure the upper ridges and the summit
The primitive road (by streeyyr)
Exit Interstate 10 at Exit #318 (about 20 miles west of Willcox, 75 miles east of Tucson). Drive about 11 miles east on Dragoon Road to Cochise Stronghold Road. Turn right, and drive south about six miles south to Ironwood Road. Turn right again, and drive west on Ironwood Road about seven miles to Forest Road 795, then turn right. The main road continues west towards the Cochise Stronghold Campground three miles away. Instead, drive about 1.5 miles north, then turn left onto an unmarked primitive road just south of Blacktail Hill. Drive up the road a half mile or so to a water tank and park here. The elevation here is about 5,000'.
The road continues a little farther into the range but gets narrow and very rough. The area near the water tank is open and flat, with room to turn around.
Contact the Coronado National Forest, Douglas Ranger District. Their number is 520-364-3468.
Forest Service Maps: Coronado National Forest Map (Chiricahua, Peloncillo, and Dragoon Mountain Ranges). • Topographical Map: Cochise Stronghold.
A rock barrier that needs to be crossed, and the brushy slopes up high
The Cochise Stronghold Forest Service Campground is located near the trailhead.
From the stock tank, walk west up the road. Soon, the road bends and starts some switchbacks. You have a couple choices: (1) Walk up the switchbacks to the road's end, then scamper up the slopes through the forest and rocks to meet the main ridge above, or (2) leave the road and walk up a more direct line up slope to meet this main ridge. Either way, it's a gain of close to 1,000 feet. We ascended by (2) but descended by (1), and I would suggest (1) both ways. The problem is that there are some open mineshafts hidden in the forest on (1), and I assure you, you don't want to walk into one.
Once on the main ridge, proceed west uphill, aiming for a hilltop at 6720 feet. Then angle left and drop to a saddle with a rock wall spanning it (see photo above). Cross this rock wall by either going up and over, or dropping down to the sides.
Keep going up and up, hilltop to hilltop. The going is steep, brushy and rubbly, but mostly open. At about 7100 feet, the brush and trees close in extremely thick, and the last 400 vertical feet is a brutal bushwhack in which you may be crawling on all fours at times to get through the tangle of branches.
About 100 feet below the top, you come to another cliff band. The climb is short. There is a brushy scramble option by going right. Then ascend to the top from here. Walk the ridge a little ways because some other points along the ridge top seem to be as high (or higher) than the benchmark. Descend the same way.
In clear conditions, basic common sense and attention should suffice to navigate the route. If it is cloudy, you definitely want waypoints in your GPS, and a compass to check bearings.
Wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, hat and so on. Poles or a staff are handy for balance. Expect to get scratched a lot.