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Name: FR4393 Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (3 out of 5), the first part is an easy 2/5
Time: 1 hour Region: SE Arizona
Length: 0.75 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +420 / -50 ft / + 370 ft (one way)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 5800 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, summer, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: August, 2010
Short Description: This is a short, quick trail up to some mine tailings and a nice overlook to the east
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Dragoon's Past; Hill Top March
References / Contact Information: Chiricahua Memories (Tucson Weekly article); Cochise Stonghold history;
Points of interest: Mine tailings, lots of mines, nice overlook to the east.
Special Considerations: Easy trail until you reach the last hill going up to Waypoint 013.
How to get there: From Tucson, take I-10 east to exit 331. Take US-191 south 21.3 miles to Pearce Rd, take right. Follow Pearce Rd 4.5 miles, turn left on Middlemarch Rd. Follow Middlemarch to Waypoint 004 (approximately 6.5 miles). Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is a fun and quick side trip when traveling along Middlemarch Rd. The portion of the trail we went on (started with FR4393, then on FR4828 went up to a bunch of small mines and a nice little hilltop lookout. A few nice places to camp along the way.

General Information and History

From Cochisestronghold.com: This rugged natural fortress was, for some 15 years, the home and base of operations for the famed Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise.  Cochise and about 1,000 of his followers, of whom some 250 were warriors, located here.  Sentinels, constantly on watch from the towering pinnacles of rock, could spot their enemies in the valley below and sweep down without warning in destructive raids.  No man, woman or child within a hundred miles was safe from these attacks.

Born in present-day Arizona, Cochise led the Chiricahua band of the Apache tribe during a period of violent social upheaval. In 1850, the United States took control over the territory that today comprises Arizona and New Mexico.  Not hostile to the whites at first, he kept peace with the Anglo-Americans until 1861, when he became their implacable foe because of the blunder of a young U.S. Army officer, Lt. George Bascom.   In that year, Cochise and several of his relatives had gone to an encampment of soldiers in order to deny the accusation that they had abducted a child from a ranch. The boy was later proved to have been kidnapped by another band of Apaches. During the parley, Cochise and his followers were ordered held as hostages by Bascom, but Cochise managed to escape almost immediately by cutting a hole in a tent. Bascom later ordered the other Apache hostages hanged, and the embittered Cochise joined forces with Mangas Coloradas, his father-in-law, in a guerrilla struggle against the American army and settlers. The capture and murder of Mangas Coloradas in 1863 left Cochise as the Apache war chief.   The U.S. Army captured him in 1871 and prepared to transfer the Chiricahua to a reservation hundreds of miles away, but he escaped again and renewed the resistance campaign. The following year after negotiating a new treaty with the help of Thomas Jeffords, his only white friend the band was allowed  to stay in their homeland.

The portion of the Butterfield Stage Line runs from Fort Bowie to Tucson crossed just off the northern tip of the Dragoon Mountains.   This line was a favorite target of Cochise's warriors, they killed 22 drivers in a 16 month period.  The Butterfield Stage Line established a station stop on the north end of the Dragoons in 1858.  It was called the "Dragoon Springs" station due to the natural springs located there.  A massacre occurred at this site on September 8, 1858.  On October 5, 1869 a Col. John Finkle Stone, the 33-year-old president of Apache Pass Mine, near Ft. Bowie, headed back to his home in Tucson aboard a mail coach. He had an escort of four soldiers. When they approached the abandoned stagecoach station at the north end of the Dragoon Mountains, a group of Apaches came out of a gully and hit them fast and hard, killing everyone.  (The ruins of the station stand today although the springs were rerouted by mother nature in an earthquake in the late 1800's.)

Cochise is reputed to have been a master strategist and leader who was never conquered in battle.   For ten years Cochise and his warriors harassed the whites by raiding lonely ranches and attacking stagecoaches and miners.  Cochise retired.  He died peacefully on the newly formed Chiricahua  reservation in 1874.  His son, Taza succeeded him as chief.   Upon his death, he was secretly buried somewhere in or near his impregnable fortress.  The exact location has never been revealed or determined. 

The town of Cochise, Cochise County, the renowned geological feature known as Cochise's Head in the Chiricahua Mountains and the Stronghold are all named in tribute to him.

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The Trail

Head east on FR4393 at Waypoint 010 (intersection of Middlemarch Rd and FR4393). We immediately took a right down through a nice little wash. I don't know where the trail on the left goes, but my guess is not very far.

Continue on FR4393 until you get to Waypoint 011. We wanted to go up to the mine tailings (a left on FR4828). It looks like FR4393 goes a little farther up the canyon and would also be a fun trip, but we didn't take that today.

Just before Waypoint 012, the trail splits. To the right, the trail leads to the tailings (Waypoint 012), to the left, the switchbacks up the hill.

We did a quick stop at the mine tailings, then took the trail up the hill. The last part of the hill to get to the pass was steep and washed out fairly bad. This can be a little tough for some stock vehicles and I don't think there's any place to turn around until you get to the top so make sure you are confident before you attempt.

You'll be rewarded with a nice view to the east once you're come to the lookout. There's a nice place to camp up there also. Now, just retrace your path to Middlemarch Rd (or go explore the rest of FR4393).

Have fun and be safe!

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