Avawatz Mountain
(Mohave Desert, California)

22 Apr 2009 - by Daryn Dodge

The Desert Peak Section Guidebook instructions worked great for finding the almost invisible unmarked dirt road turnoff from Highway 127 (0.1 miles N of highway milepost 19.0). The deep drainage trough also mentioned in the drive instructions was right there at the beginning of the dirt road, too deep for Steve's passenger car to cross. However, Steve had brought a small shovel and with 10 minutes of determined digging and grading, we had filled in enough of the trough for Steve's car to just clear the rut.

We proceeded up the dirt road 0.7 miles until it got too rough for passenger vehicles. There was a small camp at this location, so we left Steve's car here and piled into my Jeep Cherokee for the remainder of the drive. This small camp was a good location to leave 2WD passenger vehicles, and just far enough from Highway 127 to make it difficult to see from the highway.

The road became quite rocky as we continued up another 3.8 miles to where the Old Mormon Springs road fork comes in, and we stayed left to go up the canyon. After another 1.1 miles, the crux of the drive is reached at a narrow, but short, rocky section of the road. Steve got out of the car a moved a couple of big rocks and I gunned the car up the steep grade with tires spinning. Made it up on the second try. In about 0.8 miles, a fork is reached in which a faint dirt road takes off to the left. Go straight here, avoiding the left fork. The DPS instructions indicated this was a three-way fork. Perhaps at one time, but not anymore.

After about another mile, just before a saddle is reached at the head of the canyon, another potentially difficult section is encountered...the road narrows, tilts towards the cliffy side, and one or two troughs need to be crossed. It looked scary, so Steve got out of the car to guide me over the worst trough. It turned out to be easier than expected and we were soon at a solar powered communications station on the ridgeline. There is room for several cars to park here. However, we continued down the road in dwindling daylight another half mile and decided to park and camp right on the road. This seems to be such a remote road that we didn't worry about anyone else driving in during the night. If we had more daylight, we would have continued on another quarter-mile and found a nice turn-out with a campfire ring.

Desert hikers with much 4WD experience getting to desert peak trailheads should have little problem with this road. However, the last few miles of driving to the top of the canyon were quite steep and I easily dropped over 1/8 of a tank of gas 4-wheeling up to the trailhead.

Probably the best option for starting the hike to the summit is to walk up the gully behind the campsite parking area. A low point in a ridge behind the campsite is reached after 150 feet of gain. From here, simply contour right a few tenths of a mile over to an obvious saddle (elev. 4700 ft) between the ridge you are on, and the white cliff to the left.

An alternate way to start the hike is to walk 0.1 mi. down the road past a large beach-ball sized boulder partially blocking the road, as suggested in the DPS Guidebook. Then start hiking up the ridge. However, you are walking downhill the entire time on the road before you even start up the ridge.

Avawatz Mountain from the use trail

From the saddle we climbed up the loose class 2 white cliff to the ridgeline above. We then picked up a vague use trail that followed the top, or sides, of the ridgeline out to Avawatz Mtn. Essentially no brush to whack at and wide open views from the ridgeline once we were over the white cliff made this a very pleasant and scenic traverse over easy terrain.

This horny toad lizard thought if he/she held real still, we would not see him. But we saw him and it allowed Steve to get a good close-up. photo by Steve Eckert

On the drive out, a Mohave Black Collared lizard ran up on a rock to say hi. photo by Steve Eckert

This was a good year for lizards. Several types of these reptiles made their presence known as we hiked out-and-back from Avawatz Mtn. This easy hike was a nice way to end a week of desert peak bagging. Round trip hiking was 5 hours and total round trip distance was 6.5 miles.

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