A volcanic plug in the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness

The North Maricopa Mountains are a typical Sonoran Desert mountain range with elevations varying from about 1,000' to a high of 2,813'.

The 63,200-acre North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness contains about 10 miles of the mountain chain, surrounded by large, flat desert. Lots of cholla, ocotillo, saguaro, mesquite out here. A few coyotes, bobcats, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and Gila monsters, too. Part of the southern boundary is against the old Butterfield Stage Road. Once you get north of that you'll be pretty much on your own, better bring plenty of water...

The 9-mile Margies Cove Trail and the 6-mile Brittle Bush Trail are the only 2 "developed" trails in the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness. There are registers (usually with maps available) at the trailheads for both these trails. The Margies Cove Trail crosses the North Maricopa Mountains from west to east while the Brittle Bush Trail heads into the mountains from the south, intersecting with the Margies Cove Trail about 5.8 miles from the west trailhead and about 3.2 miles from the east trailhead. Neither trail is very well marked and signage to the trailheads is quite skimpy. For that matter, sometimes there's a rock cairn to mark the junction of the two trails, and sometimes there's not... A strong hiker can make a roundtrip of the Margies Cove Trail in about 6 hours, and a round trip of the Brittle Bush Trail in about 3.5 hours.

Access to the south side of the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness is via any of several dirt roads extending north from the Maricopa Road (SR 238). There are other dirt roads extending south from the Rainbow Valley Road and from the gas pipeline maintenance road. Another primitive dirt road parallels the eastern boundary of the wilderness. In this area you're going to want high clearance 4WD. Bring a good map, compass, GPS device and lots of water.

USGS Maps: 7.5 minute: Margies Peak, Mobile NW, Cotton Center SE, Cotton Center NW, Cotton Center, Butterfield Pass