We had long discussed finding a passage that skirted the northeastern corner of the Yuma Proving Grounds. Crossing the Proving Grounds was a no-go for obvious reasons -- no trespassing signs, unexploded ordinance, live weapons firing, and possible death, to name just a few. This trail is called Norton Road because it begins on Norton Road. But Norton eventually goes directly into the Proving Grounds and, in effect, ends at the associated no trespassing sign. So we turn east onto a remnant of the old Red Raven Road and follow it until cornering south on BLM road YE08 and then veering southeast on BLM YE043 at the eastern end of the Tank Mountains. Confusing, isn't it? Not really. Just follow the track, check off the waypoints, and enjoy the adventure! Simply getting to the trailhead on Hovatter Road is a scenic adventure. Norton Road drops out of the ruggedly beautiful Little Horn Mountains onto the broad Palomas Plain, a wide flat valley of stately saguaro, firestick ocotillo, and the omnipresent creosote bushes. The plain is cut by washes large and small, all thickly lined with palo verde, mesquite, and other thorny shrubs, all eager to add more pinstriping to your rig. To the south, hills comprised entirely of jet-black basalt boulders rise ominously from the otherwise level Palomas Plain. Our trail ends by intersecting with the Palomas Harquahala Road, another great trail running through the Palomas Plain up to the Eagletail Wilderness and beyond. Now there is a proven route around the Proving Grounds. All that is left is for you to go explore it. Enjoy.
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