Peak 5,620ft P300
Peak 5,498ft
Black Canyon Peak P300
Mid Hills HP P750 CS
Peak 5,725ft P300
Peak 5,603ft P300
Peak 4,534ft P300

Mar 27, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX Profiles: 1 2 3


I was on my own in the heart of Mojave National Preserve, done with the longer hikes that were planned and ready to do a collection of shorter hikes that could be broken up with some fun Jeeping in between. Temperatures were finally starting to cool a bit and much of the morning would have overcast skies. Having been to the area on a previous visit to pick up the more popular summits, this one would be a sweep for the more obscure leftovers. Most of the areas I visited today were burned in the 2005 Hackberry Complex Fire. Pines and junipers snags are evident throughout the area. Already struggling in a desert environment, there has been little sign of the trees regrowing. Luckily, the fire spared some areas and pockets, and in time these should help with regrowth, though the timescale may be over a century or more, rather than a decade or two.

Peak 5,620ft - Peak 5,498ft

These are the northernmost summits in the Providence Mtns, but they are nothing like their more thorny brethren to the south. The area has been used for grazing cattle and still is to this day. In fact, much of the area I covered today showed evidence of continued grazing. With so little rain, this is surely a poor year for it, which might be why I saw only a few specimens all day. I had camped near the end of a rough spur road between the two summits, and would make a 3mi loop with 1,000ft of gain, taking about two hours. The terrain here is rolling hills, grassy with very little cacti, making for easy cross-country travel. It took less than 40min to make my way to the higher Peak 5,620ft to the southwest, where I left a register in the absence of one. The more interesting part of the loop was following the meandering ridgeline to the north. There are various fencelines running along parts of this ridge, which for the most part are kept in good repair. They certainly seem out of place under Park Service management, but then free backcountry carcamping is out of place for them as well. I spent a second 40min getting between the two summits. I did not leave a register on the second summit since it seemed less interesting and lacked sufficient prominence. There is a good view of Columbia Mtn about a mile to the north. It would take a bit less than 40min to descend Peak 5,498ft, and then crossing the low-level drainages back to the Jeep.

Black Canyon Peak

This summit lies in the Mid Hills, a collection of lower summits between the Providence and New York Mtns. It is found about a mile southeast of the Mid Hills Campground. The unofficial name was given for the feature and road of the same name found to the east of the peak. I parked off Wild Horse Canyon Rd, which is driveable by any vehicle from the north to the campground, but limited parking due to high banks of sand/gravel on either side. The hike is relatively short, taking just over half an hour, class 2 from most directions. The summit features a Smatko register dating to 1991, the first of three visits Smatko parties made before others visited. Mark Adrian left a better register in 2021, but there's only been a handful of ascents in three decades. The summit overlooks Gold Valley to the south, the Mid Hills to the west and north. I took a slightly different route off the northwest side, more for the variety than any need to find an easier way down.

Mid Hills HP

This turned out to be the most interesting summit of the day, by far. It is located in the northernmost part of the range, close to the higher New York Mtns. I drove north to the junction of Black Canyon Rd and Cedar Canyon Rd, parking a short distance to the east of there. Much thanks goes to Mark Adrian who paid a visit in 2021. LoJ had the wrong outcrop identified, and Mark spent some time visiting several contenders until he settled on the true highpoint. His efforts saved me a similar effort, allowing me to go directly to the highpoint. Additionally, I followed his suggested route which was spot on for enjoyment. It starts up a dry wash, not obvious from the topo map or from the road. A larger wash to the west might work equally well, but Mark's was quite nice, with a sandy bottom, shady pines, and short dryfalls all class 2-3. I spent about an hour in the drainage, eventually climbing out on slopes burned in the 2005 fire. The highest elevations are a complex of granite boulders, not easily traveled. I zeroed in on the one identfied by Mark (LoJ has since updated its location, but still slightly off), approaching from the south. Class 3 scrambling got me within striking distance, with my view matching one provided by Mark in his TR. His description seemed a bit complicated, but I was happy to find that, ignoring it, I could follow what seemed like a reasonable route and find my way to the crux on the west side of the summit block. There are two cracks to be climbed, the first is the harder class 3-4 one, but not much exposure. The second looks harder, but has better holds and is standard class 3. It took about an hour and three quarters to reach the highpoint, the scrambling occupying only the last 15min.

The only register entry was Mark's from the previous April, but it was housed in a rusted set of nested cans that predated it (probably from Vitz or MacLeod/Lilley who visited in the 1970s). There was also the blue pill bottle from Smatko, with the bottom worn through and no paper - he had visted in 1967 and 1973. It was a nice bit of history even with the missing paper trail, and I thought the scrambling to reach it some of the best in the area (Eagle Rocks might be better, though). After my short summit stay, I reversed the moves off the summit and retreated back via pretty much the same route, having no need to look for a better one. It was close to 2p by the time I returned to the Jeep.

Peak 5,725ft

This summit is found just south of something called Government Holes, which appears to be a dilapidated corral with an old windmill. The hike starts with a trip over yet another cattle fence just off Providence Ranch Rd. The small hill has slopes littered with granite boulders, offering some challenge. The highpoint is a pair of class 3-4 summit rocks, one atop the other, a bit of exposed slab climbing at the crux. Mark Adrian and Smatko had both reported ascents, but looking everywhere, I could find no sign of a register from either. I ended up building a small cairn atop the highest boulder and leaving one inside. About an hour for the roundtrip effort.

Peak 5,603ft

Located just south of the Barnett Mine and a few miles southeast of the previous summit, decent BLM roads lead to the wilderness boundary about a mile and a half north of the summit. I followed the old mining road up the wash towards the summit, leaving it when I reached the base of the peak. An easy climb leads to the summit where I found another Adrian register. On the way down, I took a more easterly route so I could visit the Barnett Mine that I had missed on the way up. The mine shafts and tailings were nothing special, but there were some iron works from Fairbanks Morse, a company I later found is still in business. I was back to the Jeep by 4:45p, but not yet done for the day.

Peak 4,534ft

I drove back around the Wilderness boundary and down the eastern side for a total of about 10mi to the western edge of Hackberry Mtn. Peak 4,534ft occupies the westernmost part of Hackberry Mtn, an easy climb taking less than 20min to reach the summit. There is a very nice view of Watson Wash to the south and west, along with the higher Hackberry Mtn to the east. I left a register here before heading back down on a slightly different trajectory to finish up around 6:10p. I had parked at a backcountry campsite that I would use for the night, with plans to hike nearby the next morning.


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