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Cochise Stronghold

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Cochise Stronghold  


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Location: 31.9212, -109.98703 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: James DeRoussel on Aug 20, 2002
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Cochise Dome and the Rockfellow Group, from the We...

Closures in effect March 1 - June 30: Rockfellow Group and Cochise Dome (WML Dome) MORE INFO >>>

Description 

Cochise Stronghold is a spectacular landscape of rugged canyons and towering granite domes. While there is something for everyone in this vast area, those seeking traditional, multi pitch climbing will have a special appreciation for climbing in the Dragoon Mountains. Still, Cochise offers more sport climbing than its reputation, or any current guide, suggests (though not enough to put it in the category of a sport climbing destination). Two of the most popular spots, Sweet Rock and Zappa Dome, are covered only on this site. There is also a great deal of multi-pitch "sport" climbing although virtually all of these climbs require an occasional gear placement or chickenhead tie-off. Many of these routes on the larger domes are not documented in any guide--though increasingly, they are showing up on this site--and therefore care must be taken not to get off route.

Climbing in Cochise Stronghold is a backcountry experience. The remote setting, coupled with the committing nature of many of the climbs here, require preparation beyond that of roadside cragging on Mt Lemmon. The terrain is rugged and maze-like, and it is generally easier to get lost than to get where you are going. Allow plenty of time for approaches and err on the side of caution.

The amount of rock in Cochise Stronghold is large, and some of the rock is of outstanding quality. Many super classic routes, put up by pioneering climbers since the 1970's, ascend the various spires and domes in the area. Many of the quality crack climbs in Southern Arizona are found here, as are some of the longest routes in this part of the state. Some of these historic routes are difficult, committing, and runout. If you can't climb them this way, go climb something else. With regards to new route development, this area is evolving. If you are considering a new line, ask yourself if you are truly contributing something of quality to what is already there. You may be looking at a line that has already been done! Please ask around before you drill!

This area is of great cultural significance to some people. Treat it with due respect. User impact has increased at the Stronghold in recent years, particularly human waste. Please pack everything out!

Cochise is climbable year round. However, only the most heat-tolerant individuals climb there in the summer, and early. Spring and fall are the best times, but winter offers good climbing weather on most days as well, particularly in sunny exposures.

Current closures for raptor nesting (as of 2011) include Rockfellow Group and Cochise (WML) Dome from March 1 - June 30. Official closure details are posted above, and in the Rockfellow and What's My Line areas on this site. Check with the US Forest Service Douglas Ranger District for changes and current closures.

Getting There 

Drive east from Tucson on I-10 towards Benson.

For the east Stronghold, take exit 318 (Dragoon Rd.) off I-10. As you enter the tiny town of Dragoon (after a couple of miles), set your odometer at the post office and go 7.5 miles to a right turn onto Cochise Stronghold Road. Follow this until it ends at a T intersection with Ironwood Road; take a right and head into the Stronghold. The east Stronghold is accessible to any passenger car.

For the west Stronghold, head south from Benson on highway 80 for about 20 miles and turn left on Middlemarch Road a couple of miles before Tombstone (this is less than a mile after the permanent border patrol checkpoint). Follow this road for 10 miles to a left hand turn onto forest road 687 (just after a cattle guard). For Sheepshead, take the first right after about 1/2 mile. For the west Stronghold crags (as well as alternate access to the Rockfellows), follow the road for 30 to 45 minutes to its end in west Stronghold canyon. Some crags, such as Isle of Ewe, Sweet Rock, and Warpath Dome, are accessible from various points along this road. he west Stronghold roads are a bit rougher and also require 10 initial miles of washboard road to access. Still, passenger cars show up all the time at Sheepshead and Isle of Ewe areas. Driving a passenger car all the way to the end of forest road 687 is another matter and you will want to be skilled and/or not care especially about your car.

Also of note is that the fastest way to get from the east to the west and southwest areas is via Middlemarch Road rather than the highway, if you don't mind a bumpy dirt road for fifty minutes.

Camping 

Access to free camping spots can be rougher, particularly the road to Batline Dome, but there is plenty of camping accessible to any car. On the east side, camping can be found after crossing the cattle guard (on Ironwood Road) with the large forest service sign. An immediate right leads to Batline Dome and the Wasteland area trailhead, with camping at both spots. The next right, a quarter mile or so on, leads to a maze of road with extensive free camping. There is also pay camping with more amenities at the end of the road into the east Stronghold.

On the west side, there is camping at the Sheepshead trailhead, and all along forest road 687, which eventually leads all the way in to the West Stronghold (parking for Whale Dome, Westworld, etc.). The sites near Sheepshead and Isle of Ewe are ideal for larger groups; the sites at the end of 687 are mostly smaller.

Guidebooks 

Bob Kerry's Backcountry Rock Climbing in Southern Arizona has an extensive Cochise section. It's out of print, but accessible in its entirety on-line ( climbaz.com/Backcountry/backco... ). The listed routes are a drop in the bucket of the actual number of routes in the Stronghold. "Rock Climbing Arizona" and "Weekend Rock Arizona" also have some Cochise crags but are not as extensive as Kerry's guide and are really only worth getting if you'll be hitting several areas in Arizona. Other local guides/topos that may cover newer routes include Geir Hundal's (toofasttopos.com) and Scott Ayers' (cochiseclimbing.com).

Climbing Season



Weather station 6.4 miles from here

245 Total Routes

['4 Stars',13],['3 Stars',103],['2 Stars',100],['1 Star',24],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',13],['5.7',17],['5.8',30],['5.9',33],['5.10',84],['5.11',49],['5.12',5],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',4],['V2-3',6],['V4-5',4],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',1],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cochise Stronghold:
Inner Passage   5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a     Trad, 500'   Rockfellow Group : Rockfellow Dome
What's My Line?   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b A0 R     Trad, Aid, 3 pitches, 400'   East Stronghold : Cochise Dome (What's My Lin...
Ewephoria   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Sport, 5 pitches, 750'   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
The Wasteland   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 6 pitches, 600'   East Stronghold : The Wasteland
Moby Dick   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 6 pitches, 700'   West Stronghold : Whale Dome
Mystery of the Desert   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 5 pitches   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Muttonhead
Nightstalker   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   East Stronghold : Owl Rock
Bee Line   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R     Trad, 3 pitches, 280'   East Stronghold : Stronghold Dome
Forest Lawn   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 300'   Rockfellow Group : Bastion Towers
Absinthe of Mallet   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 7 pitches   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
The Peacemaker   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 7 pitches   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Endgame   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 600'   Rockfellow Group : End Pinnacle
Days of Future Passed   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   Rockfellow Group : End Pinnacle
Warpaint   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13     Trad, 5 pitches, 680'   West Stronghold : Westworld Dome
Tombstone Crack   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 140'   West Stronghold : The Tombstone
Abracadaver   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 6 pitches, 500'   Rockfellow Group : Rockfellow Dome
Stampede   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 7 pitches, 800'   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : The Sheepshead
Sheep Thrills   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 120'   Sheepshead Area (Southwest) : Crisis Center
Sound of One Hand Thrashing   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a R     Trad, 5 pitches, 550'   Rockfellow Group : Rockfellow Dome
Old School Executioner   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, 100'   West Stronghold : The Tombstone
Browse More Classics in Cochise Stronghold

Featured Route For Cochise Stronghold
P6, a long friction pitch.

Absinthe of Mallet 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a  AZ : Cochise Stronghold : ... : The Sheepshead
Approach: About 30 min. Approach on the main sheepshead highway trail. Hike for a while, then 5 minutes or so after going through the second animal gate, see a less defined trail break uphill from the main trail (small cairns on sandy slab). Follow this (trail gets good quickly) up cairns. There is one cairned trail that breaks off right to another rock formation- ignore it. Eventually you will reach a big boulder near the cliff base. Walk left by the boulder (underneath it) and head up a few ya...[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

Photos of Cochise Stronghold Slideshow Add Photo
A chickenhead belay in the Stronghold
A chickenhead belay in the Stronghold
Sunset over the Whetstone Mountains as viewed from...
Sunset over the Whetstone Mountains as viewed from...
Bolting routes in Cochise is generally avoided, no...
Bolting routes in Cochise is generally avoided, no...
guardian of owl rock
guardian of owl rock
Final rap into this cool little maze.
Final rap into this cool little maze.
Looking back towards Tombstone from the area near ...
Looking back towards Tombstone from the area near ...
Century plant.
Century plant.
Evening in the West Stronghold
Evening in the West Stronghold
View from camp.
View from camp.
Hiking out at Sunset, looking back at the Sheepshe...
Hiking out at Sunset, looking back at the Sheepshe...
One of Toofast's nap spots.  :)
One of Toofast's nap spots. :)
Lightning storm sunset on the Rockfellows, from th...
Lightning storm sunset on the Rockfellows, from th...
Mischievous shadows of Cracker Jack
Mischievous shadows of Cracker Jack
The Hands at sunset. Feb 2008
The Hands at sunset. Feb 2008
What is this rock?
BETA PHOTO: What is this rock?
Cochise Stronghold at sunset....
Cochise Stronghold at sunset....
Great view of Rockfellow Group from first pitch of...
Great view of Rockfellow Group from first pitch of...
egg rocks at bottom floor of What's my Line
egg rocks at bottom floor of What's my Line
Greg on yet another impeccable stronghold treat.
Greg on yet another impeccable stronghold treat.
Cochise Stronghold Sunset in Feb 2013 (From Hummin...
Cochise Stronghold Sunset in Feb 2013 (From Hummin...
love this place
love this place
a face?
a face?
A random pic
A random pic
It is midnight and that dome in the back is Rockfe...
It is midnight and that dome in the back is Rockfe...

Show All 67 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Cochise Stronghold Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 18, 2013
By flynn
Apr 13, 2006
Treat yourself to a really good cuppa joe in Willcox at Espresso. It's right across the street from the old train depot. Fresh sludge made by a fellow who moved to the desert six years ago after tiring of rainy Seattle. Also killer cinnamon rolls and other fresh-baked goodies, all with a friendly small-town ambiance that welcomed us after the de rigueur all-night drive from Denver.
By brad schierer
Jul 18, 2006
What's My LIne isn't the only classic. If you're in the Stronghold, the best place to head is the Rockfellow group with stuff like Forest Lawn (5.9), Days of Future Past (5.9 R), Endgame (5.10), Abracadaver (5.11). etc. This area has tons of classics that would be plastered all over Climbing and Rock and Ice if you didn't have to do the stairmaster hike from hell to get there, but hey that's half the fun of climbing in Cochise. Be sure to check out westside classics like Moby Dick (5.8) and Warpaint (5.10c). Peace and may Cochise be with you.
By Casey Bald
Dec 18, 2007
I was thinking I would come and climb in the west stronghold near the end of march and stay for a week, culminating the trip with a visit to levithan dome and the surrounding area in the santa catalinas. What is the temp at these areas that time of year, is it possible to climb in cochise? levithan? I have the backcountry guide and I was wondering if any other route development/upkeep of anchors/protection bolts on levithan has happened since the printing of that book? thanks folks
By 1Eric Rhicard
Dec 19, 2007
It is a great time of year. The weather is generally warm and settled if not a bit windy. The latter can make a day in the Stronghold a little wild.
By Jimbo
Dec 21, 2007
Casey,
As far as I know the few very old bolts on the north face route on Leviathon have not been replaced. But that said it's stil a great back country route worth the approach.
I would suggest, in March, that you start hiking well before first light on the trail which should deposit you at the drainage to the dome at sun up.
We did this route in April in twelve hours car to car. We, through the luck of the gods, dialed the approach in 2 hours. Add more time if you botch it. Kerrys guide is good if you pay attention.
Bring a head lamp, days are short in March!!
The approach sucks so fast and light is much better than heavy and slow, with an overnight. IMO.
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 25, 2008
I'm planning a trip into the Stronghold for Wed-Fri, unfortunately the weather looks terrible and I'm wondering if I should be concerned about the road into the west Stronghold, where we were planning to climb (i.e., if we get in there and then endure torrential downpours, will the drive out become problematic for our 2wd car?).

I'm assuming the east Stronghold road would be a better alternative but having never been to either, I just don't know--any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!
By manuel rangel
From: Tempe, Arizona
Nov 25, 2008
Charles, I was just there yesterday. Middlemarch road is well-graded and no problem in any conditions, the road to Sheepshead could get a bit muddy but passable in a car. The end of the road into Whale Dome et al could be very difficult to travel in a car if it rains heavily.
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 26, 2008
Thanks! Heading out to the West side now....
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Feb 13, 2009
The Falcon guide "RC:AZ" states the Cochise Campground has water. Is this the case and, if so, is the water on year-round? Sure would be nice to not haul 5 to 10 gallons of water down there on a road trip. :-) Thanks for any info you can provide.

Edit:
OK, we found the information on the Coronado National Forest site for the Cochise campground. No water.
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Oct 6, 2009
We had issues with a chewed hole in a food pack left at the base of a climb. On several other days, we instead brought a backpack-style aluminum pot and lid for the food and put a large rock on top of that. Worked 3 out of 4 times with the 4th being a case where the pot was not supported on the sides and/or the hold-down rock being too light (~10 pounds). ... and leave pack pockets open.
By Dave Lynch
From: Waseca, MN
Nov 18, 2009
My climbing partner and I are coming down from Alaska to take a winter break from ice climbing. Planning a trip to Cochise Stronghold January 11th through the 21st. What's the weather like this time of year? Looking for easier Trad climbs up to 5.7 and Sport climbs up to 5.9. We both like multi-pitch climbs. Any suggestions? Also considering Baboquivari Peak - do we need bring crampons, ice tools or an ice axe this time of year? Dave Lynch, Eagle River, Alaska
By 1Eric Rhicard
Nov 18, 2009
The weather will be great unless you get there the same time a winter storm arrives. Storms only last a day or two and the day time highs may only get into the 50's if a storm comes in. If the sun is out you Alaskans will be fine. It can snow there but that is rare, very rare. As far as routes go download tofast's topos. Should be enough there to keep you busy for a week. Babo is fun, and a lot of hiking for some okay climbing (SE arete) but a nice peak to get to the top of.
By Danny Suter
From: Boulder, CO
Dec 28, 2009
Considering quick climbing trip w/ a visit to Stronghold. Can we get around in RV? Where to camp? Where to park for climbing access? Is there a guide book for the area? THANKS!!!
By Marty
Dec 31, 2009
You can pretty much camp where ever you want, RV or tent. There are camping spots directly under some of the routes. You won't have far to walk at all. Once you get there you will realize finding a camping spot will not be hard. Have fun.
By burlap submariner
Jan 31, 2010
Does anyone know of a route that exists in cochise by the name of "greedy little man"? I had a friend reccomend it highly but I am unsure of the area and formation. Thanks.
By John Peterson
Feb 1, 2010
Greedy Little Varmint maybe? That's on Sheepshead.
By JeanGClimbs
From: Reading, VT
Sep 2, 2010
I see people have posted about the weather conditions at Cochise in January, October and March/April...but I am wondering about May. I am taking 3 months off and driving my camper van from the east coast out west. I was planning on hitting Boulder, CO first in late April, then AZ in May, then to Yosemite, Tuolomne, Lover's Leap and on from there. My 2 priority destinations in AZ are Mt. Lemmon and Cochise - is May too hot for Cochise?
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Sep 3, 2010
AngeMtn-I don't know anything about the Beanfest myself, but you might try posing your question here.

Jean--I think May is pretty hot for Cochise. You can do it if you have high heat tolerance, chase shade, get up really early, etc. Heck, some of the area's main route developers climb there all summer. It's a bit much for me personally. You might consider substituting Paradise Forks for Cochise. Otherwise, if you get down here and find the Cochise heat not to your liking, there's plenty to keep you busy--great trad and sport--up high on Mt. Lemmon.
By Todd Tumolo
Nov 4, 2010
Heading down late december and was wondering if anyone has any beta on the cheapest public transport to cochise from phoenix. Thinking greyhound to wilcox and then hitch hike. Any ideas?
By Bob Graham
Dec 10, 2010
I am wondering if driving a normal sedan in on the West Side roads into Cochise is possible this time of year?
By Trey Lewis
From: Glendale, Az
Dec 10, 2010
It depends on what areas you are trying to drive to. But yes, most of the roads shouldn't be to bad right now. Most times drove on middlemarch rd, I was in a small Honda. The worst was some rough washboard or a little bit of washed out road that you had to drive over slowly.
By Bob Graham
Jan 4, 2011
Heading to Cochise today for a week. Can anyone recommend good routes to do in the sun, and or when it is windy?
By cdawg
From: Tucson, Arizona
Feb 18, 2011
Any dates for Spring Beanfest, yet?
By greghis khan
Feb 22, 2011
Anybody aware of closings this March due to the rapter nesting season? If so, what climbing areas are allowable?
By Steve Pulver
From: Williston, ND
Feb 22, 2011
climbaz.com seems to have up to date raptor closing info.
By Curtis Tripp
From: Moab, UT
Feb 20, 2012
I know that the alert is still up here, but I cannot find any information on the web about closures for 2012. Has anyone heard anything about falcon closures for this year?
By Carl Dawson
Feb 23, 2012
Any dates for spring Beanfest yet?
By Christian
From: Casa do Cacete
Feb 23, 2012
April 21st
By aaron voreis
Feb 23, 2012
Hi I will be in Tucson next week and am looking to get out climbing. I have a flexible schedule and would like to get down to Cochise if possible. I am a very competent, yet out of shape climber who would like to stay in the 5.8-5.10 range. I don't mind taking a competent intermediate climber out.

Thanks!
Aaron

e-mail
aaronvoreis@gmail.com
or text 612+759+1876
By Angel Mangual
From: Sierra Vista, AZ
Feb 23, 2012
Curtis: As Far as I know, the annual closures are from March 1st to June 30th. This is for the Rockefellow Group and Cochise Dome. If you have any questions look at the Access Fund website or contact the Douglas Range District they are very helpful.
By Michael Kukral
From: phoenix az
Apr 25, 2012
There's a lot of bouldering opportunities directly north and south of I-10 off exit 318 Dragoon exit, exit taken for stronghold. Anyone know if it's legal to climb these areas?
By 1Eric Rhicard
Apr 26, 2012
A lot of us have investigated that area. Go look at it again though. Times shoes and climbers have changed.

Good luck.
By Michael Kukral
From: phoenix az
Apr 26, 2012
Thanks Eric, I actually stopped by earlier today just for about 40 min or so. Managed to establish one problem out there, but a lot of potential to be had. I drive through here about twice a week, really lookin forward to putting some time in and seeing what else is capable out here. If anyone else is interested in joining me let me know. It'll be only me and my pad out here explorin.
By Angel Mangual
From: Sierra Vista, AZ
Apr 30, 2012
Hey Mike, I will be more than happy to join you. Like a year or so I hike around with my pad (mike dudleys Pad) and my girlfriend. We put up some problems, but late we got concerned because a ranch near by decided to extend the fence and block the entranc through the wash. I did not have time to get with the rancher and talk to him, but like I said I will be more than happy to join you.
By Michael Kukral
From: phoenix az
Apr 30, 2012
Awesome man, way psyched you wanna join! Shoot me an email and well exchange numbers, I'll let you know when I'm gonna be driving through.
By Daryl Allan
From: Sierra Vista, AZ
May 3, 2012
That sounds like Texas Canyon. Check out the Kerry book - I think there's a couple ropes climbs established there. There's certainly lots of bouldering problems put up all over out there but I don't think anything is documented. Mike D & I plinked around in the area south of the I10 there, on the big boulder in the circle area between the off/on ramps and also up on the north side. Lots of fun stuff out there. We got some looks from ranchers driving by when we were on the north side but no one stopped or talked to us.
By AnonymooseCoward
Dec 24, 2012
Cochise Stronghold is a very sacred place for many. I have done many sweat lodges there, and would appreciate if the land is respected. If you are curious about doing a sweat lodge (for free, if any motherfucker asks you for money walk away!) or if you are interested in exactly how valuable and sacred this land is, call my friend ( a Yaki native) Charlie One Horse 520.508.1623.
By R Vargo
Apr 4, 2013


Hummingbird Ranch Vacation House Pearce AZ 85625
10 Min from the Cochise Stronghold off Rt 191 in Pearce.
2BR 2 Bath home fully furnished for a wonderful mountain climbing vacation.
To Book-
hummingbirdranch@comcast.net
410-679-7918
$600.00 per Week or 1800.00 per Month.
Summer special-$575.00 Week or $1650.00 Month. 2 Couples Max.
By Dan Cook
Oct 7, 2013
does anyone climb out here at cochise on a regular basis? i just moved out here to pearce and i'm living 10 minutes away from the stronghold, but not knowing any other climbers out here makes it hard to climb lol
By Hendrixson
Administrator
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 10, 2013
The weather for Cochise Stronghold points to Tucson, which is incorrect. I updated the GPS coordinates but other actions may need to be taken.
By Angel Mangual
From: Sierra Vista, AZ
Oct 10, 2013
John the weather right now in Cochise is around 64 degrees. It has been in the mid 70's low 80's for the past weeks.

Dan I leave in Sierra Vista and Cochise is basically my second home. You can contact me if you want my email is mangual43@gmail.com
By Luke Stollings
From: Austin, TX
Dec 17, 2013
I'm on my way to Cochise for the first time, and decided to try to assemble the automotive approach beta for West Stronghold into a google map. Try this out and let me know if I need to fix it. I intentionally didn't draw in lines so it wouldn't obscure your view of the existing tracks in Satellite view. It's intended to be used together with the driving approach beta here on M.P.

goo.gl/maps/F6VY3

long URL: maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=2...

Kudos go out to everyone who put in so much great beta for SW AZ on MP!!
By Hendrixson
Administrator
From: Tucson, AZ
Dec 18, 2013
Great map Luke; however, Isle of Ewe is incorrectly marked. Follow the road further north and look for a cattle guard. After the cattle guard turn right. In the satellite imagery there are cars at Sweet Rock. The turnoff is before the 90 degree bend in the road.