Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 31.89380°N / 110.7246°W
Additional Information County: Pima
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 6189 ft / 1886 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Mount Fagan is the northernmost major summit of the Santa Rita Mountains, which start near the Mexican border near Nogales, and include Mount Wrightson. Mount Fagan lies about 20 miles north of Mount Wrightson, surrounded on three sides by a mix of private and state lands, a mix of houses, small ranches, and mines.

The peak itself has a few viable ways to be climbed. The easiest (as would appear on a map) is to come in from the north, but these days, access is blocked by the homeowners in that area. Others have come in from the southeast following jeep tracks that start from highway AZ-83.

The route described here comes in from the northeast, following desert tracks starting from AZ-83 that end atop a ridge northeast of the summit.

This route requires a strong 4-wheel drive to handle these roads, but in the worst case, could be hiked from AZ-83 directly. Depending on how far you can drive in, your hike may range from 2 to 12 miles round trip.

Mount Fagan AZ
Walking the roads toward Mount Fagan

Getting There

From Tucson, drive east on Interstate-10 to the AZ-83 exit, signed for Sonoita & Patagonia. Drive south on AZ-83 a few miles (I did not note exact mileage). You will turn right (west) at a dirt track at approximately N 31.903, W 110.662, east of Twin Tanks. The turn comes after a small rise in Highway 83, so look carefully.

You will pass through a gate, this being a boundary of a parcel of Arizona State Trust Land (Permit needed). Go straight... and don't be surprised to see how bad the road gets almost immediately. It is rocky and rutted, but most stock 4-wheel drive should be fine for the first little while.

Within a mile, you come to a junction. if you go straight, the road doglegs left then drops steeply into a drainage. Here, the road is in very bad shape and may challenge most stock vehicles. Or, go right and follow tracks that run south of Twin Tank. You descend steeply off one berm, drive across a small "pasture", then get onto another berm, dodging trees along the way. The idea is to stay this course, which bends south and meets the "main" road again.

If you have stock 4-wheel drive, you may want to park before Twin Tank and walk the rest.

If you keep on driving, stay on the main road. You then pass "The Lake" (another stock tank). Here, the roads are steep and very badly eroded and rutted. Beyond The Lake, the road follows an arroyo and is extremely rocky. After this, it ascends onto a bench. We parked at approximately elevation 4,320 about 1/2 mile west of The Lake. Our driver had a Toyota FJ, and even he felt unconfortable about proceeding past a certain spot. These roads demand very strong 4-wheel drive with big beefy tires, lots of clearance, and a willingness to accept desert pinstriping along the way. There are parts with hefty leans. Skilled drivers only. Thus, if you want to play it safe, you can park farther back and just walk the roads.

Mount Fagan AZ
Nearing the end of the track, the main NE ridge is seen here


Follow the tracks up onto a ridge, aiming eventually for ridgepoint 5,102 northeast of the top. The map shows the track to end here. Note that the recent topographic maps do not show all the roads up to this point, so have a satellite image copy too. Once past The Lake, you can eyeball where you need to go. Just follow the tracks southerly to its end. Parts are steep and rubbly and walking these roads isn't that much fun, but it goes fast.

Close to the end of Point 5,102, follow another track downhill, dropping about 150 feet to a saddle below Point 5,420. The tracks end here. Hike upslope toward Point 5,420. The slope here is grassy and rocky, steep but manageable.

Once on the ridge, just follow it southwest toward the summit, another 700 feet above you. What appears to be the summit up ahead is not. It's just a small promontory, elevation 6,120 feet. Once you've achieved the highest ridge, you'll see the true summit not much farther ahead. For most of this final ridge, there are faint paths you can follow. If you lose the paths, just stick to the ridge line and you'll be on route.

Benchmark "Faggan" apparently is buried under a large cairn of rocks. A local family honors its deceased members with stone plaques at this cairn. The views in all directions are fantastic. Even Baboquivari Peak is visible way off to the west, plus peaks far south in Mexico.

From wherever you park, elevation gains will be about 1,500-3,000 feet, plus adding what you lose along the way. The hiking isn't difficult, but it can be steep with the usual challenges of loose rocks, high grass, cactus, and rattlesnakes when warm.

Mount Fagan AZ
View up the main NE ridge. No, that's not the summit, but it's very close.

Red Tape

You should have an Arizona State Lands permit. The cost is reasonable and lasts for a year.

Mount Fagan AZ
The cairn on top can be seen.

When to Climb

All year, except summer is hot and with regular thunderstorms, and dead of winter may see snow up high. In general, the cooler, the better. The final ridge is up grassy slopes, where rattlesnakes live. Wear long pants, sleeves, gloves, carry a staff, and keep an eye where you step.

Mount Fagan AZ
Looking south at Mount Wrightson


There is no camping convenient to this area. A little farther south, the land is governed by the Coronado National Forest, where you can bush-camp along a forest road.

External Links

Add Egg sternal Links text here.

Mount Fagan AZ
View down the ridges we climbed