..a TRAILHEAD with a VIEW..
History: The Lucky Strike Trail derives its name from the nearby asbestos mines named "Lucky Strike & Pueblo". This trail is actually an old abandoned/closed 4x4 mining road that runs from the Billy Lawrence TH at the upper end of FR235 to the lower end TH at FR203(Cherry Creek Road).
Options: This remote hike in our northern Sierra Ancha Wilderness has an upper and lower TH option which allows for either a high end hike start at 6800' elevation (from the Billy Lawrence TH), or a low end hike start at 4000' elevation (from FR203). The upper Billy Lawrence TH off FR235 has wonderful canyon views down into the surrounding Cherry Creek Drainage areas, rugged Billy Lawrence Canyon, and far reaching to the north and east into the distant mountains of the Apache Indian Reservation. The lower TH area at FR203 has nice views (~400' down) into perennial Cherry Creek.
Hike: I chose to do this hike as an "in and out", with some exploring, starting from the upper Billy Lawrence TH. The trail begins here in the pines with canyon views continuing for 0.5mi to a highpoint at 6975' and its intersection with Center Mountain Tr#142. From here the Lucky Strike Trail, an old 4x4 mining road, starts its downhill 2900' elevation drop through some minor burn forest area to the official Sierra Ancha Wilderness boundary sign at the 1.37 mile point. At the 2.04mi point, the GPS indicated mining activity for the old Pueblo and Lucky Strike asbestos mines. This mining activity was evident along and off the trail to the 2.25mi point with various metal pieces and old steel water piping sections off the trail. Within this area there were also secondary trails and off-shoot 4x4 mining roads, but with a limited amount of time to explore this first trip, I was unable to locate any official mines that might confirm the actual locations of the old Lucky Strike and Pueblo mines.
At approximately the 3mi point, this easy to follow trail with some downed trees to negotiate, takes an approx 160 degree turn at a very scenic viewpoint looking up at the jagged bluffs of Center Mountain to the southwest. From here the trail takes a steady downhill route to the ~3.5mi point where it opens up with sun exposure and becomes overgrown and rocky to the ~4mi point but offers some very nice views of the Cherry Creek drainage far down to FR203 at trails end. From this ~4mi point there was some recent trail maintenance done which makes for a very pleasant hike for the balance of this serious downhill 5.5mi one way hike as it now continued with switch-backs as it makes its way through heavy-old growth red manzanita and large oak trees which helped to shade most of the final 1.5 miles downhill to FR203.
As of this writing, there is NO "official" TH marking for the intersection of the Grapevine Trail#135 that intersects this Lucky Strike Trail#144 somewhere between the 4mi and 5mi point. As best as I can now determine, this intersection is approximately at GPS coordinates: N33 51.8625 W110 53.6547 ELEV 4971' (At this approx location there was a rock cairn with white survey-ribbon tape tied in the bushes noting what appeared to me to be a possible trail intersecting to the north-a left turn).
It should be noted that at the lower TH end(FR203), there is NO "official" TH sign indicating the lower end of this Lucky Strike Trail#144, so I have noted in the TH driving directions below the lower TH end-GPS coordinates (see driving directions for details). Also note that the lower TH end or start of Trail#144 is approximately 50 yards before continuing north on FR203 through a "closed" gate.
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.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.