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Council Rocks in Saint David, Arizona

It topped out at 57 degrees but felt much warmer on a mid-December day when we rode to Council Rocks. It took us a little over an hour to get to the trailhead from our location in Pearce, Arizona. Council Rocks is located on the western end of the Dragoon Mountains. (Complete directions can be found here.)

Forest road #687 access is bumpy and challenging. It is best attempted in a high-clearance vehicle. Our camp neighbor and friend, Jim, warned us of some areas that might create issues for our truck and trailer. We were using our truck and the Lazy Horse Ranch gooseneck stock trailer. With that in mind, we stopped at one point and dropped the tailgate, to protect it from abuse by the trailer. Alas, we were too late… one pitch of the trailer prior to our precautions put a kink in the tailgate. That was a real bummer.

Heading out

There is a nice pull-off area to park. We encountered a single couple in a car at the parking spot. They were just hanging out, enjoying the day. They came over to meet the horses. The dogs were more than ready to roll…

It is an easy ride. All told, we did 8 miles. Elevation climb is less than a thousand feet. We spent less than 3 hours in the saddle. However, be sure and plan for some time to tie up the horses and explore Council Rocks. More on that momentarily…

On the ride out, we encountered another couple of people at the human trailhead. About halfway to Council Rocks, there was a group of about a dozen senior adults on what was presumably a paid, guided adventure. They had a well-stocked and well-planned campsite. We passed them as they were heading out on a hike. The dogs enjoyed checking out their apparently enticing-smelling campground!

Right past their campground was a gate. It is not really a horse-friendly gate, as the top is low and the chain is very low. Nevertheless, I managed to open it on horseback on the way out, without difficulty. Not so on the return trip. Kadeen was apparently in a big toot to get back to the trailer. He barged through before I was ready, and my knee took a serious hit on the metal gate. Weeks later, it was still sore.

Pictographs and hollowed out holes

We stopped for lunch at the base of Council Rocks. Jim stayed with our tree-tied horses, while Alan and I hiked to the top. That is never an easy feat in cowboy boots. When you reach the spot you are met by a sign explaining the wonders of the area. The pictographs are thought to be painted by early Mongolian peoples approximately a thousand years ago. They are also thought to be responsible for the hollowed-out holes, used for grinding nuts and seeds. The dogs were very grateful that the holes contained some water! We are not certain how the holes in the vertical rock face came to be…

Alan and I (and the dogs) enjoyed climbing around the huge boulders and exploring the hidden caves and crevices. One can imagine the history that played out in this amazing place. Words are inadequate to describe the views when I have so many awesome photos…

Be sure and keep an eye out for the “Praying Nun” rock formation. You can spot her about a half-mile after hitting the open plane, just before arriving at Council Rock.

I keep teasing you with a promo for Fort Bowie. I have tons of photos, and there is a huge amount of history there. But I am writing these blogs in order of our rides. I have one more account of a trip to the Cochise Stronghold… and then Fort Bowie.

Also coming soon… Are you fearful in the saddle? I was surprised by a recent statistic in a Horse & Rider poll that discussed how many riders are “sometimes” or “often” fearful in the saddle. Stay tuned!

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