I had planned to hike to the summit of un-named Peak 2790 ft in southwestern Arizona’s KOFA National Wildlife Refuge near Castle Dome Peak. Wanted to start my hike at a spot beyond Castle Dome Mine Museum. On the day of my hike, at the mine museum, I came across a gate that closed the road. There was a fence and private property signs blocking my way to where I needed to go. Except for the museum’s parking, there was no place to park even along the road. Was forced to drive back close to a mile to find a parking spot. I ended up doing an aimless desert hike, but the views turned out to be beautiful.
Hike length: 8.36 mile
Elevation Range: 1300 to 1700 ft above sea level
February 6, 2023
Left Yuma, Arizona at 7:10 AM (Sunrise 7:30). Drove 25 miles on Route 95 and turned onto Castle Dome Mine Road which after the end of pavement, became a fairly smooth dirt road. Two big square block summits could be seen in the distance. One was the 3788 ft Castle Dome Peak and the other Un-named Peak 3370 ft. My goal, Un-named Peak 2790 ft, could be seen as a smaller mountain in between the two blocks.
After 9 miles of driving, I reached Castle Mine Museum and ran into a closed gate on the road with No Trespassing signs over it. Where the heck did that gate suddenly come from? Was I not on a National Wildlife Refuge? How could there be private property there? Nobody was there at that early hour. Saw parking for the museum but did not want to park there only to find out that they had towed away my vehicle. Private property fences ran across the desert floor too. That totally ruined my plan. Had to drive ¾ of a mile back to the Big Eye Mine Road where I found a place to park. Decided to just get out and enjoy the scenery but which way was I supposed to go?
It was 8:25 AM when I started to walk. Seemed like going north on the plain at the foot of the mountains that rose to the east might give me the best views, but I was afraid north would take me to the private property again. I did, nevertheless, go north.
Castle Dome Peak from a dry desert wash.
Sure enough, I reached a fence and abandoned mining structures that blocked my path.
Was forced to turn east walking into the early morning sun.
My GPS showed abandoned dirt roads that had turned into trails. Got on one of those and continued east.
Peak 2656 ft to the south.
Point 2305 ft to the north.
A valley opened up to the north. I turned that way going into the valley. The trail faded away.
Looking back at Peak 2656 ft.
Peak 2305 ft.
Went north until the valley split. The tip of Castle Dome appeared at the end of the left branch of the valley.
I chose to go right which led me out of the valley into a beautiful open area with great views of the 3788 ft Castle Dome, Peak 3370 ft and Peak 3356 ft. I was happy to be there. It was 10:11 AM and I had hiked 3.31 miles. Sat there for 10 minutes to eat and enjoy the views.
Decided to go toward the yellowish hills in the distance. I thought I could see Peak 2790 ft which I originally had planned to climb but was not sure if I was identifying it correctly. I was enjoying my beautiful leisurely hike and was in no mood to go get myself involved with potentially nasty slopes on any peak anyway.
Loved those yellow-colored hills and the surrounding jagged peaks.
Zoomed view of Peak 2790 ft.
I could continue north and then turn west and south making a loop to return to my truck but was afraid of running into private property near the end of the hike so decided to go back the way I had come, with minor variations.
Turned around heading south/southeast.
Got into a small canyon which obstructed my views.
Back into more open areas with good views.
Went further east than where I had come from getting into a broad desert wash.
Made a sharp turn to the northwest going back toward the path I had come from in the morning. Beautiful chollas.
It became very windy, and the sky appeared hazy. At first, I thought I was smelling smoke but, there was no forest anywhere close that could burn. Wind had blown dirt into the sky making it hazy. A look back at Castle Dome as I was approaching my starting point.
Was back to my truck at 12:48 PM, 8.36 miles.