The recent rains in the Black, Cerbat and Hualapai Mountains, and the downward slide in temperatures, means that walkabout season is upon us. For those fortunate enough to live in the Bullhead City area and Colorado River valley opportunities for such adventures abound.
Bullhead City is at the heart of a well developed extensive and diverse trail system. Add old roads to the mix and there is an almost endless amount of opportunity.
There are two trail systems of particular note in the colorful but imposing Black Mountains that cast long morning shadows over the Colorado River Valley. The Mount Nutt Wilderness is one of the areas best kept secrets.
Dominating the wild and rugged wilderness area is 5,216 feet Mount Nutt. Desert bighorn sheep roam free in this land of mesas, deep canyons and desert oasis shaded by towering cottonwood trees. Adding colorful contrasts is volcanic plugs and ancient tone weathered into twisted shapes that cast long shadows.
Secret Pass is another gem. While many parts are accessible with an ATV or sturdy 4×4, the best way to experience this scenic desert wonderland is on foot. From the west entrance to the east entrance is a hike of nearly twenty miles, so it is best to make the journey on two visits.
A natural arch, scenic wonders, waterholes and tales of lost treasure are just part of the allure. It is a rugged hike in places but the reward is stunning desert mountain landscapes.
Wrapped around the north and west perimeters of Kingman is the extensive trail system of the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area. Another trail system is being developed with the historic 19th century Stockton Hill Road as the focal point. Long term plans call to link the two trail systems. Both present the illusion of wilderness and yet the trail heads and most of the trails are less than five miles from downtown Kingman.
Coyote Pass, bisected by U.S. 93, and soon I 11, is at the center of the recreation area. It is also rich in history.
Beale Springs, a desert oasis is the site of Camp Beale Springs, a military encampment established in the 1870s to protect the Mohave Prescott Road. It was also the site of the Hualapai internment camp after the Hualapai War, and the starting part for the Hualapai trail of tears.
For centuries this was a camp ground for travelers following a trade route that linked Cerbat Mountain turquoise mines to Hopi and Zuni Villages in the east and the Chumash and other tribes on the California coast. During his expeditions in 1776, Father Garces followed this trail and camped at Beale Springs. In the pass are also vestiges of a highway built in 1914 and U.S. 466.
To learn more about the hiking trails in Mohave County and western Arizona, and the great Mojave Desert, contact the local Bureau of Land Management, or visit their website. You can also learn about outdoor recreation opportunities through the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America