Mimetoliths on the Silver Peak Trail, Chiricahua Mountains

Mimetoliths are described as topographic or natural features that resemble something else, generally humans or animals.  The Old Man of the Mountain is a classic example of a mimetolith, first recorded in 1805 in New Hampshire.  Unfortunately this geological feature succumbed to the forces of nature and collapsed in 2003, but humans are adept at finding meaning in natural objects and many other examples of human faces in stone are known from around the world.  Recognition of mimetoliths is related to pattern recognition in the human brain and this activity is associated with activation of the prefrontal cortex.

Perhaps the best known mimetolith in the Chiricahua Mountains is the Head of Cochise.  Cochise Head is in the northern part of the Chiricahua Mountains and the feature is best viewed from the west side of the mountain range.   But there are other stone faces in the Chiricahua Mountains, less well known.  The Silver Peak trail, trail 280, which starts in Cave Creek Canyon on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains has a very nice example of a double mimetolith.  This mimetolith is about two thirds of the way up the trail and is easily spotted on the north east flank of Silver Peak when coming down the trail from the summit.  A large stone profile becomes visible on the hike down and it is possible to discern a large nose, eye and eyebrow.  Upon closer examination of the nose, a second profile is becomes visible.  This smaller profile appears similar to a bearded man in profile.  These examples of stone profiles were formed  in the rhyolitic volcanic ash deposits that comprises much of the Chiricahua Mountains.

Large mimetolith on trail 280, Silver Peak.

A smaller mimetolith, a bearded man completely in shadow, is visible at the top of the nose of the larger stone profile.

See the map of the Silver Peak hike in the sidebar or here.


The November 1951 issue of Desert Magazine article on Buried Treasure in the Chiricahua Mountains includes a period photograph of this mimetolith on page 11.


  1. You have a beautiful picture of the stone profile.

  2. Thank you. I have not seen any information on double mimetoliths (two faces in the same profile) but I suspect there are some. Thanks for pointing out the second profile.