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Jacobson Sawmill, AZ

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Guide 23 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,910 feet
Elevation Gain 40 feet
Accumulated Gain 90 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 1.95
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
7  2018-04-18 cactuscat
9  2017-10-14 RedRoxx44
22  2017-09-19 SkyIslander18
22  2013-10-18 weavejd
26  2013-03-18
Snow Flat
15  2010-10-05 SkyIslander18
14  2010-06-26 SkyIslander18
6  2007-08-04 PrestonSands
Page 1,  2
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:07am - 6:16pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Got wood?
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Located halfway up Mt. Graham in a small flat area just off the highway is the former site of Cluff Dairy, and its predecessor, the Jacobson Sawmill. In 1894, entrepreneur Peter Jacobson constructed a sawmill in the bottom of Twilight Canyon, just below Turkey Flat. After a wagon road had been constructed to the site, Mr. Jacobson and his son began hauling lumber down to their lumber yard in Safford. Vestiges of this wagon road are still visible today, where the current Swift Trail highway parallels it. The sawmill was sold and subsequently removed in the mid 1930's, at which time Alfred Cluff obtained a lease for the site from the forest service. The Cluff family constructed a home on the flat area, where the Jacobson logging camp had once existed. They planted a large orchard and vegetable garden, in addition to running a small dairy here. The Cluff's sold their produce to nearby residents, and in the Gila Valley below, until the 1960's when their lease expired and the forest service evicted them.

Today, scattered fruit trees and concrete foundations can be found at the old Cluff Dairy site, while a few rusted relics mark the location of the Jacobson Sawmill a short distance away.

The forest service claims that this area is quite popular with black bears (as I discovered first hand), so be prepared for a possible encounter (read the HAZ Article Bear Encounters ).

The actual hike into Cluff Dairy is easy, as it follows a dirt road, and no route finding is necessary. The hike beyond the Cluff Dairy site to the Jacobson Sawmill is along a washed out, overgrown wagon trail, and is more difficult to follow.

From the wide pull-off area near milepost 126 on the Swift Trail (AZ highway 366), begin hiking down the dirt road on the south side of the highway. The road is soon blocked by a locked, chain-link gate, which functions as a vehicle barrier. Walk around the gate, and continue down the dirt road. This is the original 1894 wagon road constructed by the Jacobsons. The pines soon give way to large silver oak and Arizona madrone trees. At 0.25 miles, the road arrives at a three way fork. The left fork follows an old fence, and soon dead ends among pine and apple trees. The right fork basically parallels the middle fork. Take the middle fork, and you will soon arrive at the Cluff Dairy site, marked by a flat, open area. The whole flat is covered in some of the largest bracken ferns I've ever seen, and amply shaded by pines, silver oaks, and some large douglas fir trees. Roam around and check out the numerous old foundations among the various fruit trees. A few rusty artifacts and pieces of broken china can be found among the ruins. There are a couple of dilapidated picnic tables under some enormous silver oak trees, where you can relax and enjoy the view of the Gila Valley in the distance, some 4000 feet below.

To continue on to the Jacobson Sawmill site, head south along the dirt road to the far south end of the little flat. Just past the concrete walls of an old water tank built into a large boulder, there will be a couple of faint trails that parallel each other downhill into the trees. Take the lower trail, and follow the small, black plastic water pipe down into Twilight Canyon. There are several short washouts along the way, where the trail appears to end; just pick your way across the washout on the steep mountainside, and you'll find the trail again. After a short walk down the old trail, you will arrive at the bottom of Twilight Canyon. Head upstream along the canyon floor, and you will soon come to an old, rusted boiler lying on its side. Welcome to the Jacobson Sawmill site. This may be the boiler that exploded due to lack of attention, during the sawmill's early days. A few other items of interest can be seen here, including rock foundations for long vanished buildings, a pulley, and metal cables used for pulling logs down to the sawmill. This area makes a nice spot to take a break, under the dense canopy of tall fir and maple trees.

When you have had your fill of Mt. Graham history, head back the way you came, and keep an eye out for bears!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2007-07-02 PrestonSands
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
Jacobson Sawmill
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2 days of steady rain in Graham County was to end today, had to go up the mountain and see the water. Jacobson Sawmill was the first choice, I wanted to see Twilight Creek which does not often flow much, but I knew it would be today. On the drive up ALL the creeks & drainages were a'flowin heavy! Some that I haven't seen water down in years.
Hiked down to the sawmill and Twilight was running good. The whole area was just incredible looking. Spent a couple of hours in the canyon with a nice bush camp enjoying it all. I then headed down the mountain checking the flow all the way down into the flats.
Quick stop at Wet Canyon,
Quick stop at Noon Creek,
Short hike to Jacobson Creek by the Forest Service buildings,
Then to the bottom and down to the Rockstar of the Day, John's Dam. All the creeks meet up at some point and end up going over the dam and wow did they ever ..... heavy flow from one end to the other!
Awesome overcast, socked in, foggy, watery day.

Jacobson Creek flowing over John's Dam
[ youtube video ]

Jacobson Sawmill
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After a terrible day on top of Graham, I had to go back up for a wonderful day.
Picked Jacobson mid-mountain away from all the damage.
Short & sweet hike down to the old dairy and sawmill.
Cluff dairy looked great! Lots of cool colors, mountain grapes & apples are almost ready.
Down in the canyon at the sawmill I found many new artifacts never seen.
Had lunch with 2 friendly white-tails in the very lush, mossy & green canyon bottom.
I went for wonderful ..... and I found wonderful!
Jacobson Sawmill
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With the Swift Trail re-opened up to Ladybug Saddle after containment of the Frye Fire, we headed up.
Separate triplog posted for the bad - This one is the good!
Chad, Addie, Bianca & Vaho was the fun bunch for this one.
Started with Ladybug Peak. Made the short hike up, enjoyed the awesome views & placed a much needed new register box in the crack. Found a few hundred ladybugs on the north face.
Next up was a drive down the Swifty and hike through the cabins with a play stop at the swing & rope (no broken bones, close, but no).
Last up was a short drive down to Cluff Dairy. We hiked to the dairy then down further to the old sawmill. Still (to me) a spooky place down in that dark canyon ..... the other 3 laughed at my confession ..... jerks!
Back up at the dairy I showed them my secret apple tree, lots of apples this year, but not quite ready for pickin'

Mostly overcast skies, couple claps of thunder, a sprinkle here and there, 1 doe, several squirrels, a peak, old family cabin visit, 2 historic sites and a most needed return back up into the cool breeze pines after a devastating 5 week wait -
Jacobson Sawmill
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Drove up the mountain with a plan A & B.
Plan A was up high at 8000 ft and still just too snowed in to hike.
Plan B was lower, but I arrived to find a half dozen cars parked and tons of people snow tubing.
Had to come up with a plan C on the fly.
Decided on 2 ole' standby shorties a little lower on the mountain.
1st I hiked down to the old Cluff Dairy, skipped the 2nd portion down to the sawmill as there also was just to much snow down in the canyon.
2nd I hiked up Wet Canyon. Good water flow on this day, lots of nice small waterfalls & many very cool ice formations along the creek.
Was planning on more miles today, but these 2 are always worth the drive up!
Jacobson Sawmill
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Christmas afternoon hike.
Wanted a good snow hike today on top of Graham, but it was way too windy & cold up high.
Settled on a favorite shorty down lower.
Cluff Dairy had a few inches here and there & the entire sawmill area down in the canyon had a good blanket throughout. Always very cool to see the old sawmill artifacts!
Passed only 2 vehicles on the drive up at noon, passed about 30 on the way back down heading up to play in the higher snow.
Jacobson Sawmill
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Perfect place to visit for our regular Thursday evening short hike.
Met up with Addie & Lauren after their shifts at Roper Lake and up the Swifty we go stopping at the always cool Cluff Dairy/Jacobson Sawmill. Both areas were really green with the dark & spooky sawmill canyon below lush with summer foliage!
As a bonus, I took the girls just a little ways up Wet Canyon to the first waterfall on the drive back down. Wet Canyon is already looking very good with many tall sunflower blooms along the creek. We will hit up the entire canyon in another month or two when at peak.
Good times as always!

Quite a few really tall & nice sunflowers in Wet Canyon.
Jacobson Sawmill
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Returned back home to Safford last night after spending a wonderful Christmas week with my family in Chandler/Gilbert and was able to get in a couple of South Mountain & a couple of riparian water park hikes during my stay. I enjoyed my big city hikes, but after a week of hiking in the valley I started to feel a little like Gossamer the Monster (PEOPLE!) -

Awoke today back in my small quite town and headed right up into the Grahams to get back to my solo/loner/solitude ways! I needed a short & sweet trail to break in my new Christmas gift boots and Jacobson Sawmill fit the bill. I always love hiking down this trail, it is only .75 miles down to the sawmill, but packs a big punch of old mountain history starting with the Cluff Dairy and on down to the sawmill! Really took my time on this visit as I walked through both sites and found many previously unseen artifacts. The sawmill site down in the shaded canyon had a foot of snow and was a little tricky to get to in places, but awesome! Returned back to the Swift Trail and although my new boots were starting to create a couple of hot spots, I felt I could get in another mile with them and decided to add the Arcadia Nature Trail into the day before leaving. The mountain was very quite today with zero wind and I never saw another person the entire trip ..... It was good to be back home!!!

Still a little bit of color down in Jacobson canyon.
Jacobson Sawmill
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After my scenic drive up the Swift Trail, I hit 3 short trails on the drive back down.

Snow Flat - The road down is still locked up so I had to hike it down. There was quite a bit of snow on the road and I almost turned around at one point when it got calf high. Sooo glad I didn't, the Flat looked Awesome! Still a good amount of snow left and the small lake was 90% frozen on top. Snow Flat trail below the lake, forget it, way too deep :cry:

Ladybug Peak - Quickie up to the top where I was greeted by a small amount of ladybugs. Signed the register, got my pics of the incredible views and headed down to Jacobson sawmill to end the day.

Jacobson Sawmill - Made it down to the old Cluff Dairy in no time but bailed on the sawmill canyon part. It was getting late and can get awfully dark and squatchy down there :scared:

Wildlife seen today - 3 does, 1 Abert's squirrel, 5 turkey & 1 very loud raven.
Jacobson Sawmill
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Flipped this into Snow Flat via Treasure Park.
Started from Treasure Park by first looping the big meadow and then taking the back trail to Snow Flat. Then hiked down the short out n back Snow Flat trail before returning back to Treasure Park under a small monsoon storm that soon had me cold & wet. The storm ended the rest of my upper mountain plans so I drove back down stopping at the Jacobson Sawmill TH and taking it down just to the old Cluff Dairy to check out the flora situation. The wildflowers at both Treasure & Snow Flat are just past peak, but still look very nice. Cluff Dairy flora needs some rain help, but always a cool little area of Pinaleno history to walk around. Mountain temps never got above 75 degs and it was another nice day to be in the Grahams!
Jacobson Sawmill
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Not sure what category today's trip best falls under so for now I'll call it a scenic drive.
(maybe I could get a new category added?)

My retired neighbor is an avid metal detectorist and he asked me if I've come across any old good sites on the mountain while hiking. I told him I thought the old Cluff Dairy/Jacobson Sawmill area would be good and he invited me to go up with him to check it out. I haven't swung my metal detector in over 10 years and after digging through my "man cave" I was able to locate it, dusted it off, threw in a new battery and up the Swift Trail we went. Had a very nice drive up the mountain stopping at a few places as I played tour guide showing him some of my favorite places on the mountain before arriving at the Dairy road. We made the short hike in and spent the next few hours detecting the whole area. We could tell that this area has been hit hard by detectors before, but we were still able to find a few small treasures including a couple silver coins, many clad coins, an old horseshoe and the find of the day was a small brass bell!

I had a great time and it was a lot of fun swinging a detector again after 10 years. This is an activity I think I will start to incorporate now into some of my future camping/hiking trips!

Permit $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow highway 366 for approximately 11.95 miles to a large, paved pull-off area on the right (north) side of the highway, just past milepost 126. Park here, and start hiking down the dirt road on the south side of the highway, directly opposite from the pull-off.
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