Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cochise Stronghold, Coronado National Forest, Dragoon, Arizona

Backroads Destination—Cochise Stronghold, Coronado National Forest, Dragoon, Arizona.

The Dragoon Mountains of the Coronado National Forest were home to one of the central figures in the Indian Wars of the mid-to-late 1800’s.  Cochise was the leader of a group of Chiricahua Apache and this was his hideout.  It is a perfect landscape for a hideout.  The rocks provide an overlook of the surrounding desert for approaching troops and shelter from both the elements and the troops.

See the following web site for a history of  Cochise and the Chiricahua Apache.

When Bugaboo gets bored after a day or two of inactivity his eyes glaze over and he runs up and down the 5th wheel all 30 feet of it.  At that point, we look for BLM or National Forest lands to give him a chance to run a bit.  So we decided to explore the Dragoon Mountains for that reason and hike the Forest Service trail system.

We drove up the eastern side of the stronghold to the Forest Service campground and trailhead.  The sign at the mouth of the canyon is quite clear that there is no boondocking and the stay limit is 14 days in the campground.  The speed limit is posted at 15 mph, but some of the locals that live in cabins on private property within the National Forest view that as advise only.

The road is limited to trailers less than 22 feet in length.  The road is fine until just before the campground at which point the reason for the 22 foot restriction becomes very obvious.  So plan on staying somewhere outside the National Forest if your over 22 feet.   The campground spurs are also limited to 22 feet.  We saw one little Casita in the campground and the rest were tents.  There is no water at the campground.

At the trailhead that is a ½ mile Interpretive Trail that identifies most of the plant species found in the Dragoon Mountains.  From the interpretive trail you can get on a Forest Service trail system and hike over to the west side of the stronghold should you wish.

We hiked up one mile to Cochise Spring   and found an old spring box and newer plastic piping at the one mile marker.  We think that was the spring. 

The drive into Cochise Stronghold makes for a good one day trip from Benson.  So if your looking for a place to stretch your legs and walk a bit this is the place for you.

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