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Cupcake Mountain Trail

 

Description:

This signature hike offers spectacular views from atop an iconic mountain that provides Lake Havasu's most famous natural photographic backdrop. The trail is for experienced hikers only! Groups of 10 or more require a permit from the Bureau of Land Management.

Trailhead Location: Tower # 50-G-1 (elev 1170 ft). Maximum three car parking allowed. Do not block other vehicles. You must allow official vehicle access to the power lines at all times.

Vehicle required: 4-wheel

Time to Trailhead
From London Bridge:
90 minutes

Trailhead GPS coordinates:
N 34°24.282’ W 114°18.700’

Trail Information

Aesthetic rating*: ****

Level of difficulty: Strenuous, with long steep slopes. The last ½ mile requires scrambling up loose rock on a very steep grade; this can be potentially dangerous and life-threatening if you are not extremely careful.

Length of hike: 4.6 miles

Hiking time: 5-6 hours

History: Cupcake Mountain was named by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1940s while building an airport runway on the Island. A light dusting of snow gave the appearance of frosting on top of the mountain. The Cupcake Mountain Trail was established in 1986 by Tim O'Connor.

Every year on the last Saturday night of October since 1987, Cupcake Mountain has been lit up with hundreds of road flares by Tim O'Connor and the Leaping Lizard Tribe. Over 25 years, "The Lighting of Cupcake Mountain" became a community tradition. The event ended on October 29, 2011.

Download Trail Map

Download BLM Topo Map

Destination GPS coordinates:
N 34°20.768’ W 114°19.500’


Directions to trailhead:

• Take Hwy 95 south from Lake Havasu City. Drive over Parker Dam to the Metropolitan Water District road. Head west on the road marked to Black Meadow Landing. Drive approximately 6 miles to a dirt road on the left heading towards Havasu Palms.
• In 2 miles, the road to Havasu Palms veers right. Turn left on a private road following the main electrical towers for about another 6.5 miles. The road is occasionally maintained and may be rough. A 4-wheel drive high clearance vehicle is recommended. Use Caution!!
• Look for the electrical tower on the right with a small straight road leading to it. It is situated just across from the end of the mountain block on the right, overlooking a clearing with a view of Lake Havasu City. Make sure it is tower # 50-G-1 or proceed to the next one. Park here.
• Walk back about 50 yards on the road in the direction you came from. A rock cairn marks the start of the trail up Cupcake Mountain (elev 2878 ft), which is not in view until you hike around the first mountain called Indian Nose at approximately the halfway point.

Trail route instructions:

• Start up the trail and walk uphill for about 1.4 miles to a flat area in the shade on the north side of a mountain (elev  2060 ft). Cupcake Mountain now comes into view. 
• The trail curves left through a scenic cactus field and up to another flat area (elev  2310 ft) called the Pink Spot. From here to the top is all uphill, loose rock, and steep. (See level of difficulty above!) 
• The trail is not well defined. Follow rock cairns. The last section involves a short descent into a slot, crossing a short ledge, and a steep climb to the summit. Do not exceed your capabilities! Remember, you have to come back down the same way!
• Commercial operators are not allowed on Cupcake Mountain.

* Aesthetic Rating: The more stars, the more desirable the trail the in terms of remoteness, natural features and scenic beauty


Arizona hiking safety

The rugged beauty of the Lake Havasu City area, just down the Colorado River from the Grand Canyon, makes a lasting impression. But the desert can be hazardous. Many trails are unmarked and infrequently traveled. Please consider these suggestions to make the most of your adventure:

  • Avoid hiking during the summer, approximately June 15 to September 15, when daytime temperatures can reach 120° or more.
  • Do not hike in washes when heavy rainfall is anticipated to avoid the threat of flash floods.
  • Always take plenty of water; plan to carry at least one quart of water for every four hours you hike in direct sunlight.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses with UV-protection, and sunscreen.
  • Print off a copy of the trail map from this webpage and carry it with you if the route is unfamiliar.
  • Wear sturdy, thick-soled shoes and use a hiking stick if you easily lose your balance.
  • Never hike alone and always let a responsible person know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Plan to leave on your hike early in the day to avoid the risk of being lost on the trail after dark.
  • Travel light; the less you carry the more you will enjoy the hike.
  • Leave nothing behind. We want our trails to remain beautiful for your return!