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Cochise Trail #279, Dragoon Mountains - Coronado National Forest

Summary: A hike to a tall, trickling waterfall that involves an elevation loss, and gain, of 2,700 feet.
Directions: From Tucson drive east on I-10 to Highway 80. Head south on 80 to just past milepost 315 and turn left (east) onto Middle March Road. Drive 10 miles on this well graded dirt road to a cattle guard and sign for the Coronado National Forest. Turn left just past the cattle guard, following the sign for the West Stronghold (this is also Forest Road #687). This road is somewhat rougher (but still decent) and heads due north, paralleling the western front of the Dragoon Mountains.
To go to the Council Rocks, follow FR #687 for ~7 miles and turn right onto FR #687K. Follow this rough road 0.2 miles to the end.
To get to the West Stronghold, follow FR #687 for 7.2 miles to a ranch. At this point the road bends to the east and becomes rougher (high clearance needed). Follow the road another 2.8 to where it ends at the trailhead.
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle
Navigation: Easy
Length: ~10 miles
Date Hiked: October 2006
Weather Conditions: Sunny & warm, followed by clouds, rain and hail
Required Skills:
Hike Description: Cochise Trail:
From the trailhead, walk across the dry creek bed to a sign for the Cochise Trail #279 which gives the mileage for the Cochise Stronghold Campground as 5 miles. After passing through a stile the trail begins climbing at a moderate grade beside a prominent drainage which will be on your left. There are nice views of rugged rock formations as you ascend along the well maintained gravel path. After a mile or so, the trail negotiates a few switchbacks before topping out at a pass at the 1.75 mile point (according to a mileage sign, anyway). The path begins descending at a more gentle grade on the other side of the pass. There are rock formations on this eastern flank of the Dragoons, but they are not as plentiful as those to the west. The trail descends for 3 miles to an intersection with a 0.4 mile nature loop, which features a few signs identifying plants found in the area. Follow the nature trail in either direction to the Cochise Stronghold Campground (5 miles), which sees a lot of visitation due to the fact that the road is paved on this side of the mountain. When ready, return the way you came (10 miles).
Council Rocks:
From parking area at the end of FR #687K walk through a gate and follow a use trail to the right up into the rocks. After 10 minutes of walking the path will lead to the Council Rocks and an interpretive sign. There are a few faded pictographs in a small amphitheater formed by some large boulders. 
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed the hike in 5.5 hours at an unhurried pace.
Maps: Coronado National Forest - Douglas Ranger Districts
Books: None used
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Gathering storm clouds
over the Dragoons
Typical view ascending
the Cochise Trail.
Another view along the trail. Pictograph at the Council Rocks.