Our Arizona home is located about 6 miles from trailheads into the Dragoons. Because the roads are so primitive in our area, it takes 15-20 minutes to get there!
Other than a brief trip into the desert riding directly from our home, we hadn’t been on the horses since I contracted Covid at horse camp. We returned home to a house still under remodeling chaos, plus I was no ball of energy.
I did manage to hike one of our favorite trails. Either I was out of shape after two months of not hiking up the mountains of Colorado, or I still had Covid lungs. It was tough and it made me appreciate the horses even more! I think even the dogs were tired by the time we made it to this point.
When we finally made time for riding, we headed to the “Green Gate” trail. This is an area of National Forest that is south of our home. I first wrote about this area in January of this year. We have ridden this twice in the past week. The first time we took three of our four dogs. Mica, our black German Shepherd, is a liability around other dogs. However, since we saw no other people or animals on the first ride, we took all of the dogs the second time. We had the beautiful land all to ourselves.
There is a private residence adjacent to the National Forest land. A half-dozen horses watched us with interest as we passed by their pasture. Watch for the “private property” signs as you decide which direction to go. I believe one of the three ponds are on the private property.
Last year, there was such a drought here that the ponds were more like sludge pits. This area experienced quite a bit of rain this past summer, and the ponds were really ponds. The dogs all enjoyed swimming and quenching their thirst.
Wear chinks or chaps!
After our first ride, we made a mental note to wear our chinks the next time. Apparently we were experiencing senior moments, as we forgot… and once again paid for it. I highly recommend that you wear chinks or chaps if you have them. The vegetation in the desert is mean and this trail is somewhat overgrown in places.
The native grass is much higher this year than last, after all the rain. Additionally, there were no cattle grazing this time, and the gates were all open. It was fun to watch the dogs disappear into the grass and periodically reappear.
We followed a similar route in both of these rides, covering around 5.5 to 6.5 miles each time. The temperature was 77 degrees for the first ride and 63 for the second. When the sun is out, which it is nearly every day, it is very warm. There is no forest to provide shade, so you are riding in the sun the entire time.
This is a fairly easy ride in most places, although very rocky. There is one area where the trail is narrow and there is a bit of a drop-off as you traverse the mountain. The elevation gain is slightly less than 600 feet. The views are beautiful in every direction.
How to get there
The parking area for this trail is located slightly south of the intersection of Highland and Cochise Roads. Towner Street is adjacent to the parking area but it dead ends east of the parking spot. You will know you are on Highland Road heading in the right direction if you pass the house with many painted hubcaps on the fence!
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