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Orohai Loop, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
2.4 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,086 feet
Elevation Gain 250 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Historic
Backpack No
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7  2018-12-30 Yoder
21  2018-11-18
Top Hat and the Arches
62  2017-01-08
Arches & Top Hat via Hackamore
7  2016-12-30
Twin Arches
15  2015-01-18
Bulldog Canyon Trailhead Sampler
45  2015-01-18
SE Goldfield Loop with variation
8  2015-01-09
Twin Arches
9  2012-12-30 TheNaviG8R
Page 1,  2
Author OhOh7
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 2
Photos 1,591
Trips 81 map ( 435 miles )
Age 83 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
thars gold in them thar hills
by OhOh7

Overview: Orohai is the mining district of the southern Goldfield Mountains. This fairly short loop hike goes right in the middle of the "gold country".

Area: Most are familiar with the Four peaks Wilderness and the Superstition Wilderness but thousands drive the Apache Trail and forget to look to the left. The Goldfield Mountains lie between Usery Pass road (the extension of Ellsworth) and the Saguaro Lake area of the Salt River. There isn't really a trail system. Many jeep roads crisscross the area. These roads go to electric towers and various places of interest.

History: Almost 900,000 ounces of gold was taken from Goldfield Mountain mines from 1877 to 1959. In 1892 there were about 50 operating gold mines in the Goldfields. Some of the most famous are Mammoth, Bluebird and the Bulldog. Note that there has never been any positive proof that a gold mine ever existed in the Superstitions.

One theory claims Jacob Waltz knew all about the Goldfield mines and gold. He was a crafty guy. Some say he took gold bit by bit- from a Goldfield mine. Then went across the Superstitions to the south side and then back northwest to the assay offices to value his find. He'd claim he found it in the Superstitions at the Lost Dutchman Mine. If you do a bit of research you will find they say that a ledge of quartz and gold was found at the Lost Dutchman Mine. No proof. BUT, an exact such ledge of quartz and gold was evident at the Bulldog mine. Many say Waltz took the gold from the Bulldog and that mine actually is the Lost Dutchman. Whether there's any truth to that or not, I like the angle!

Some years back the Bulldog Mine entrances were completely covered over, buried under tons of earth with heavy equipment. It is just to the left of the Hackamore TH. When Waltz told many that the lost mine was in the shadow of Weaver's Needle it shows me he had quite a sense of humor. What month, what year and what time of day would that be????

Hike: This hike loops right in the middle of the Goldfield Mountains. Which commands some attention due to the surrounding gold mines. Tailings are evident in many places. This can be anywhere from a 5 to 8 mile route depending on your choice of direction. The start is at the Hackamore TH which is a left turn off the Apache Trail just before the Museum. It is named Hackamore Road and goes past a large electrical substation for about 2 miles to a blocked parking lot.

On the hill to the west is the old Bulldog mine site. There is also a welcome to Apache Junction sign at the junction or 88 and Hackamore. The route we took was north on a jeep road (named Packsaddle Road) to a trail (not signed) that goes northwest until we ran into another jeep road where we turned southwest past the rock house (an old ruin with a well that no one seems to know much about) to an unmarked trail going southeast which is called the actual Orohai trail and a return to the hackamore TH. Our trip was 5 miles. Why did we take it now? How about beautiful flowers and maybe scattered gold???? Once we started the trail to the NW when we left the road, we went up and down hills with great views of surrounding mountains and the purple, yellow, magenta, orange and green background. The finest floral display I have ever seen in Arizona. We saw no people and the area looks untouched. Little valleys rounded hills, sharp drainages and a few places where one has to climb over ridges. I really enjoyed this hike and will go back to that area to see more of nature's display of floral color.

Summary: Try the Goldfield Hikes. Routes from the south side of the mountains to the Salt River are about 9 miles. There are some astounding canyons, some present a real challenge. Just remember this is gold country.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-03-24 OhOh7
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Orohai Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Arches & Top Hat via Hackamore
    What she said: [ triplog ]
    What he said: [ triplog ]

    I can't think of much to add but I will.
    It was a little windy/cool to start but after the unplanned summit of Top Hat, the sun pretty much stayed out and the breeze subsided. I'm glad we chose to summit Top Hat when we did as I doubt I would have toward the end. As summits go it really is pretty easy especially the way we took using the bedrock for traction for 1/2 of it. The views are surely worth the climb!

    and then the ridge walk down to Palo Verde Arch was another unplanned bonus for "as long as we're up here". You can get some nice pictures through both sides of the arch. Now from here down to Weeks Wash was a whole other ball game. It is difficult between the rolly poly rocks and the downess of it. Kelly and I remembered that from one of our hikes we did previous in this area.

    The rest of the hike toward Pedestal Arch was in and out and along some drainages with a path for some parts of it. We followed the track where you have to go alongside a wash (north), thru it and then back (south) as you go back toward the drainage and up it toward Pedestal. We didn't enjoy that part too much as you hate not going in a somewhat straight line. We ventured up the drainage and this is when I started to lose most of my energy and steam. We had started at 8:45 and it was now almost 1:00 PM without a break or snack. I usually need a break and/or snack around the 5 mile mark.

    I kept wanting to pullover for just a moment to refuel before finishing the ascent but that wasn't in the cards and just when I was ready to give up the ghost Kelly says from what looked to be a top area, "sit down for a moment and have a snack as you will want to have lunch at the Arch". She says, "you'll be sorry if you don't and you're so close". She and/or Ray were willing to carry my pack... but that wasn't the issue. I just needed a little fuel. Well Kelly hasn't steered me wrong yet so after a couple bites of my Payday and drinking some coconut water, up I went and there it was :y: . Whew!

    Now that the drama for the day was over, we enjoyed the company, the views and the weather. Kelly ventured south over to the top of a little mountain side and I joined her. As I was peaking over the side and she was running from a bee, I noticed the terrain looked a lot better for our descent so we decided to give that a try. It was a good choice. I hope that made up for the whining earlier. We made our way down to the drainage and took a bit of a shortcut from earlier and headed over for the next waypoint I had marked as "Must See". We hiked up to what I dubbed the Squishing Boulder so Kelly could see how far she could go but she got chock-stoned so had to come back the way she had started. Next it was to the Tunnel and that was really cool. We spotted some grinding holes too.

    We discussed following Mark's route to the south but because of time limitations and not knowing the area, we went back the way we came. We found the Figure 8 intersection up thru some bedrock but decided due to time once again to continue the way we came. It was a pretty hike back as the sun was lighting up the golden rock. We took a break below Top Hat before finishing off the hike with some great views toward the sun lighting up the Four Peaks, Weavers Needle and the Western Supes. We did have to pull aside for what seemed a mass exodus of ATVs. We were glad to be able to finally pull off the road.

    At the TH we all had a beer and enjoyed watching the sunset change the colors of the sky on various views around us. Ray headed home and Kelly and I went to Mammoth Steakhouse for some burgers and coffee. FYI - My sirloin burger was good but the Mammoth burger is much better. The service was a little slow this time but I like the place and it's close and open until 8. We even got fiddled at. Thx for a great hike as always Kelly. You got me up another peak. This is my second hike with Ray and second peak.

    1-13-2017 I only have one video up on youtube so far, two others are done in production with a few more to complete. I set out not wanting to film too much but alas, when it's so beautiful out there, it's hard not to. I also got carried away with the pictures but like Kelly says, I am a Documentarian... I'm thinking of changing it to Tibbernarian :lol: .

    Thank goodness for the long weekend, here are the videos:

    Orohai Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Nice hike out to the Twin Arches with the family. Lauren wanted a little off trail and Kelley wanted something moderate so this seemed to fit. Cool and breezy at the 9 AM start but it warmed up really quick. Lauren actually got some of the best shots of the arches on her phone. After a short break we headed back. Great Day!
    Orohai Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Bulldog SE Goldfield Loop
    Ambika wanted to do a hike this Sunday and she said I could choose. So I picked this one as it was something new for Jack and a return to un-oops the last attempt at the Bulldog Canyon Loop in February. Using Route Manager I made a route combining this Loop (including The Mask) with some of the Blue Ridge playground Kelly and I had done in January.

    We had a very windy start to the day and it stayed windy for most of the hike; except in the morning, that was chilly. We road-walked following FR10 up and over the hill and down to the little wash that takes you into Bulldog Canyon. I thot for some reason we would be hanging a right sooner than we did but instead you stay in this wash for almost 2 miles (including the side trip up to The Mask). The wash proved to be of interest as we continued north. There were bits of a trail here and there but you mostly stay in the wash. In the distance up on the hill in front of me I would see what I thot was the mask but it was just the shadows of the rock (you'll have to see the photo) so this would be dubbed the false mask once we got up to the real one.

    You start heading east on a trail that comes around to the wash again and here are the cairns to guide you up to THE Mask. There is a claim just below it. I kept thinking we needed to hike to what I thot was the mask earlier but this path would not work for that. This is the second time ](*,) I would mistake something for what it was not on this Bulldog hike. Anyway, after the steep climb we finally arrived at our destination. I remarked to Ambika about the rock growing around the saguaro before quickly realizing the error in that statement :lol: ; nonetheless it is pretty cool.

    We spent a good amount of time up here trying to get the perfect pictures of each other reflecting the mystique of The Mask. And then it was time for the somewhat short but steep and slippery climb down to the wash where we continued on. This was a fun wash to hike through and provided some pretty good views from time to time including a kestrel and various naked tree sculptures. We eventually started heading south in the Bulldog Wash to our next adventure on the Blue Ridge. Once again there is some road walking and we just about continued on the Bulldog Canyon Loop but quickly reversed course so as to gain access to the Orohai Loop.

    I kept looking for the cairn that marks the western turn that Kelly and I found coming from the other direction. When I came upon it and Route Scout agreed, it didn't look the same but we began the gradual ascent after letting four horseback riders pass. As we hiked the ridge line we came across another trail; the one that Kelly and I had come up. That made me feel better knowing there were two ways up. The views really are spectacular up here :y: especially to the east and south. And then you come upon the Playground. I call it such as you could ding around in here for awhile just checking out rock formations and that alcove down in the center. I think I figured out a possible way to get to it but I'll have to waypoint it via satellite for next time.

    We had our lunch using one of the longer rock formations as a wind barrier and a place for our backs to rest against. The hike down has a couple slippery sections so you have to hike gingerly. Once you're down, be sure to look back up at the Ridge as it's sure pretty. Walking back toward the trailhead you are treated to tall saguaros along the way. There is also signage to get you back to the parking lot that wasn't there the last time Kelly and I came this way. However, it seems you do have to hop over the surrounding pole fence. We didn't seen an opening in the barbed wire fence though there may be one down from the main gate. Speaking of the gate, it seemed new to me but I might be wrong.

    A couple of the movies are already made but I have to make one or two more from the Yellowstone trip before I start back working on the videos of this hike. I think the video up at The Mask turned out pretty good. I'm still fighting the two spots on the lens issue... Anyway, it's a great little hike for the mileage. The sun seemed to be filtered today so we had good light throughout.
    Orohai Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    SE Goldfield Loop with variation
    Love hiking Sundays with Kelly; especially if I have Monday off. Last Saturday Ambika and I were going to do Bulldog Canyon Loop but in my Rx I stumbled onto the Desert Safety and Survival class at the Superstition Museum so we did that instead. By the way, the course was great. We learned a lot and the instructor was entertaining as well. The thing that impressed us the most was how quickly he was able to get a fire started using lint. As Ambika says, she'll never look at her dryer lint the same way :lol: .

    We were going to go for a little hike after but the weather was tenuous and a bit nippy so we went over to the Goldfield Ghost Town. In the over 30 years I've been here and all the times I've driven by I had never been. We spent the rest of the day there. Ambika says it is quite improved and includes a lot more then when she was here last.

    So the point of the above dissertation is that Kelly and I decided to do the same thing but add on some more trails. I originally wanted to do the eastern portion of hikerdw's loop but I didn't realize it started right where we parked. We headed out onto the Bulldog Canyon Trail thinking there would be a right hand turn but obviously not. So we continued on the eastern leg until hooking up with the Orohai Loop. We used the HAZtraks and my printed map to find our way many times this day. Kelly has a neat system of comparing the two to establish where we are. My Scout II refurbished is just not cooperating but that's a whole 'nother discussion :x (I will share on the forum).

    The views were really quite wonderful. Kelly pointed out Dome Mountain as there are three in a row. Dome doesn't look the tallest but as Kelly says, it's set back so you can't quite see its full height. We hiked by the Rock House wondering what it was and a mile or so later realized we were on the Rock House Trail and that was the Rock House, sheesh :doh: ! As the Orohai (Kelly pronounced this several different ways during our hike) Loop veered toward Top Hat, it is such a cool mountain. We got to the 3-way intersection and determined we had to go north.

    The tank below the mountain had quite a bit of water. We headed toward the wash and walked in it... but too long as we missed the turn east. We thot it was a bit further up and had planned on looking at HAZtraks in a bit but I think we were having so much fun hiking in the wash we just continued... until we saw a big rock face in front of us. We then got out the map and HAZtraks. We could have gone back but I suggested we climb south out of the wash to see what we could see. We saw a mountain (Peak 2509) that looked like it had a cave or large alcove and Kelly spotted a saddle. This was our day to explore the area and this was definitely that. I said let's do our wallymode and check out the alcove first before going to the saddle.

    The alcove was pretty large and the views from there were pretty incredible. I caught my breath for a moment while Kelly did her scouting for the best way off the side of this peak. She decided that going down and then up to the saddle was NOT the preferred way so we headed east. I kind of contoured along the side while Kelly went up trying to find a route down for us. Nope that wouldn't work but I spotted a shelf as we headed down so Kelly went and looked over the side to see if the down was doable which it was. She started down but I veered to the right as this was a free for all. I noticed a hoof print and then later saw a horse shoe print which turned out to be a bit of a trail. It almost looks like it was built. The trail eventually disappeared (surely it would be pretty hard for a horse) and then you just had to keep finding your way. I spotted a fence line so we followed that down to the road we could see from above.

    I spotted a wire corral and when I went around it to the road I saw some golden leaves fluttering. Of course they were attached to cottonwood trees and lo and behold, somehow we ended up EXACTLY :DANCE: where we would have if we hadn't missed that turn. We were so proud of ourselves we decided to have lunch there. The spring is full by the way. Back on the trail we were now on FR 3512. We admired the lush green grass below the trees and the wash area to our left that we walked in for just a moment.

    We almost missed the direction we wanted to go at another 3-way intersection. We chose NOT to go up the hill to the east or west on 1356 but continued on FR 3512 (from the spring). During the earlier part of our hike we were on FR 1356. From here, if you take the 1356 east you end up on the Tomahawk Trail or the 1356 west takes you back to the 3-way intersection by Top Hat (where we were earlier). We continued south for quite a bit until the trail finally did a long u-turn and headed up toward the Green Thumb (very cool rock formation for sure and climbable according to Kelly, there is a rope there too). We watched one idiot on a motorbike as he tried to get out of the tree that he ran into. Every sentence he and his buddy uttered had the "f" word. Big boys they are.

    From here you go just a bit west up the hill and then south. It's a little tricky to find that turn so you'll need to pay attention. Here again as we topped the hill we had great views all around us including the Goldfields to our north, Four Peaks to our east and the Superstitions to our south. Plus it's always cool to hike a ridgeline :y: . We came upon the playground of gold or lime green boulders where we spent a moment looking around as we spotted some kind of arch, cave or alcove below us. We also could see the trail we would eventually get on even though we blew a bit past it and Kelly made me hike back up the hill : rambo : but it wasn't too bad really.

    From here we continued the descent from the ridgeline past some of these giant tuft boulders. It gets a bit slippery in a few sections as you make your way down. As we got closer to the bottom the clouds in the sky were creating these very cool waves. And to top it off, we were getting some of the sunshine on those golden rock faces plus the area had some beautiful cactus. Yep, this was a good preliminary hike in this part of the Goldfields. And even though there is a lot of road walking, that's not such a bad thing when you have good company and great views. Plus the scrambling is not so bad cuz you know it's clear sailing when you get back to this part of the trail.

    We feel the road looked pretty drivable. I think it would be nice to drive out on part of it a little further so that you can spend more time exploring. Quite frankly we are surprised more people don't hike out here. Needless to say I've created a map in Route Manager of "Goldfield Possibilities" and there are a lot. John9L would particularly like this because there are so many trails to link ;) .

    Lots of video (new area): I have to say that video 5 has some beautiful footage. They all turned out pretty good but the colors in the last video were so brilliant as was the sky.

    Video 1 Bulldog Wash to Top Hat
    Video 2 Top Hat to Peak 2509
    Video 3 Peak 2509 to Cottonwood Spring
    Video 4 Spring to Green Thumb
    Video 5 Thumb to up on the Blue Ridge and down to TH
    Orohai Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Bulldog Canyon Trailhead Sampler
    angela and i have both been intrigued by the goldfield mountains
    we decided on departing from the bulldog canyon ohv trailhead to sample some of the trails in this area
    somewhat followed hikerdw's se goldfield loop, although we started up bulldog wash
    hit all or part of the above trails
    saw the rock house
    saw a cool arch near top hat
    went too far north in a wash to summit top hat :(
    went up to the peak north of there and checked out an alcove
    dropped down to cottonwood spring, where we stopped for lunch
    my least favorite part was packsaddle trail, although still good views of the superstitions from it
    checked out the green thumb :)
    finished with the blue ridge trail, which was a lot of fun
    perfect day for this
    a nice sample of what the area offers, and a few things left for another time
    quite a few vehicles, atvs, motorcycles and one group of horseback riders, but not enough traffic to affect the trip
    angela put together a map of several trails in route manager (impressive ;) )
    we navigated by comparing the haz track trail to the map - worked fine
    had a good dinner at dos gringos afterwards
    thanks for a fun day, angela
    certainly more to do in this area, not to mention from the other trailheads
    Orohai Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    After 40 years of living in the valley I figured it was finally time to check out the Goldfield Mountains. I entered from the Hackamore Road TH. The first mile was very disappointing as the entire area was completely torn up by off road vehicles. It really hurts to see the hills torn up with a spider web of tracks like this was.

    After that hiking was on dirt roads, creek beds, game trails or bushwhacking. Stretched out the hike using a combination of these mediums heading pretty much north until about 4 miles in I crested a saddle heading down into a valley that was off my map. I figured it was time then to turn around.

    The inner area of the mountains are pretty. Some great views from the hill tops. With the only trails being game trails, made by critters at least 4 feet shorter than me, it was tough going.

    The only other person I saw was a guy on a motorcycle.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Apache Junction go north on Idaho Road to Apache Trail (AZ 88) then NE to Hackamore Road (welcome statue for Apache Junction) left turn to blocked off end of road--about 1.6 miles.

    Note: Hackamore Road is west from the Superstition Mountain Museum
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