Cunningham Mountain

Cunningham Mountain 3316′

Sonoran Desert

Total Time: 1:45

Round Trip Mileage: 3.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1800′

Trailhead: Fire road near Copper Bottom Mine




Cunningham Mountain is the highest peak in the Dome Rock Mountains, a small range southwest of Quartzite on the border near California. Despite their isolation, the range is surprisingly accessible, with numerous mines dotting the canyons and a fire road leading to an antennae farm at the summit of Cunningham. My interest in Cunningham was its inclusion on the AZ P2K list; with 2136′ of prominence, it was the 53rd most prominent mountain in the state. A dubious reason to chase a summit, but the reason I was there none the less. I had climbed Signal Peak earlier that day, and with a few hours of daylight left, I wanted to cross one more P2K off the list. I headed north along US-95 and turned left onto La Paz Valley Road. The road was paved for the initial 2 miles, then became a decent dirt road, heading into the mountains. I turned left onto the single track Cholla Rd. and followed this as it hooked into the Canyon towards Copper Bottom Pass. The road became a little rougher, but nothing compared to Kofa Queen Canyon. I stayed on the main road, thinking that it ended at the gated fire road towards the summit. In actuality it continues through the mountains to Morgantown, and I realized my mistake and backtracked to the turnoff to Copper Bottom Mine. I took the road another hundred feet higher to a locked gate and parked.

Locked gate at the start.
Locked gate at the start.

There were no signs about trespassing, and I set off up the fairly steep fire road. The views were initially restricted to the canyon, looking at the various old mines scattered across the slopes.

Mines across the way.
Mines across the way.

As I hit the ridgeline at 2450′, the views began to open to the west, with glimpses of the Colorado River in the distance. The fire road was in decent shape, and was intermittently paved all the way towards the summit. No frills peakbagging at its finest: dirty road to the top. As I climbed closer to the summit, ominous clouds rolled in.

Summit in view.
Summit in view.

I picked up the pace, knowing that I would have less light at sunset, and topped out in about an hour. I took some quick shots of Signal Peak to the southeast, the Colorado River to the west, and the rest of the range.

Panorama.
Panorama.
BM
BM
Zoom to Signal Peak.
Zoom to Signal Peak.
Colorado River.
Colorado River.

I didn’t stay long, and half jogged back to the car to beat the setting sun, the possible rains moving in, and grab some dinner in Quartzite before the drive home back to Phoenix.

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