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Cochise County is called the "Land of Legends" and the Western history you'll find in its mountains, canyons and towns bear that moniker out. The county is named for the famous Chiricahua Apache chief, Cochise. A legendary chief who was never defeated in battle, he at last made a treaty with the U.S. government in 1872. An excellent article on Cochise is found here. His last home before his death was Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. He and his Apache army raided the area with impunity, killing ranchers, settlers, and Butterfield Stagecoach drivers. Some of his faithful followers took his body back to the Stronghold and buried him in an unknown location. A single white man knew the grave site, but never revealed it.
The Stronghold is about 35 miles as the crow flies from Casa Wallace, but alas, no roads that make it a short trip. Instead, we take the I-10 east and exit at Dragoon Road to make the trip of 1.5 hours to the remote mountain area. After passing the small community of Dragoon, we turn onto Ironwood Road which leads into the Cochise Stronghold campsite and trail head.
There is no water available at the campsite, so bring plenty of your own. The low humidity of Arizona makes you thirstier than you'd think, so be prepared. Bathroom facilities are primitive, as in an outhouse situation and there is no water in the bathrooms either. Nevertheless, the hike is well worth roughing it for a few hours. A nature trail winds around one side of the campsite and will take you to the hiking trail. Be prepared for magnificent views on the way up and back. The rock formations which set this area apart seem like building blocks or pieces of a puzzle that God had a wonderful time putting together for us to enjoy. The trail is well marked and doesn't have the steep switchbacks that some trails have in our area.
About two miles in, you'll see the Half Moon Tank, which was a watering hole for cattle at one time. I can't imagine the effort to build the large concrete structure there. There's actually evidence of cows up in the mountains, so it still may be used. We hiked on and made it to the Cochise Divide. Views of the Sulphur Springs Valley can be seen through the mountains to the west. Manzanita, juniper, oak, and yucca are everywhere. The manzanita was in bloom with bees and flies happily getting nectar from the pink flowers.
Pictures are worth a 1,000 words, so enjoy the slideshow below. Our total mileage was 6.5 miles and the day was absolutely perfect.