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Coke Ovens via Battle Axe, AZ

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108 11 1
Guide 11 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior SW
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 2.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,001 feet
Elevation Gain 300 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.25
Kokopelli Seeds 4.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2018-01-23
Gila River Canyons - AZT #16
topohiker
11  2013-11-30
Coke Ovens 4x4 Loop from Superior
Nightstalker
11  2012-12-20
Artisan Well- Martinez - Coke Oven -Loop
topohiker
9  2011-12-22 gummo
20  2011-11-11 CannondaleKid
15  2011-10-08
Cochran-Gila River
chumley
32  2011-04-07 SUN_HIKER
20  2011-03-09 CannondaleKid
Page 1,  2
Author sventre
author avatar Guides 13
Routes 67
Photos 403
Trips 61 map ( 272 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 7 AM
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
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3 Alternative
 
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Quiet Riot
by sventre

Notice! It was reported in this forum thread that the Coke Ovens are on private property that is closed to the public.

This is yet another route for access to the Cochran Coke Ovens. As of this writing it was possible to come within 1 mile of the ovens in a 2WD high clearance vehicle. Battle Axe Rd. had been recently graded from the origination along SR177 for most of the distance to the point where I began the hike to the ovens. The GPS route for the drive and a separate GPS route for the hike itself are provided.

The drive provides stunning views of the peaks and rock formations adjoining Walnut Canyon, the Rincon, the Gila River and the landscape across to the south. Today the river level was low enough(due to the reduced CFM flow occasioned by repair to the canals downstream) so as to allow crossing at points along Donnelly Wash and Cochran Road (though I chose to remain north of the river).

The hike begins at a point close to the Gila River crossing at Cochran(or at least close to where Cochran once stood) and continues up the jeep trail, across a ridge, and connecting with the site of the Coke Ovens. You can return along the same route, or as I chose, bushwhack you way across the ridge overlooking the river. Either way, the views are extensive in all directions.

If your vehicle is not suited for the Box Canyon access to the ovens, this route may provide a less demanding alternative coupled with a relatively short hike and great exercise. As an additional benefit, although I carry a State Trust Land permit, I observed no notices requiring same for any portion of the route traveled.

Of course, I can make no guarantees that the trail will not deteriorate to lesser condition than when freshly graded. I have no idea who or why the blading of the route was done, but certainly appreciate the benefits.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2011-01-17 sventre
    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
    Coke Ovens via Battle Axe
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Did my favorite AZT loop. I started at the artisan well and took the old AZT to the new AZT. I saw two deer running on the old section. The water cache at the top of Martinez canyon was all used up. A mountain biker passed me (coming and going) on the Martinez canyon section.
    When the AZT hits the Gila, I meet a dad and his kids. He was caching water for a mountain bike event for the next day. I had lunch at the fording spot. I watched a Jeep cross the Gila head on and 3 ATVs crossed diagonally.

    After lunch I went to the Coke ovens. I explored the trails by the corral looking for an alternative route to the Coke Ovens. I want to bring my son to the ovens but, I wanted to avoid him climbing up the rocky hill. No dice, the only way is to climb up and down the hill.
    I returned to the Jeep by Battle Axe road. The views are amazing from the road. The 3/4 moon was bright enough to lead me out.

    The weather was perfect. :y: It was a bit on the cool side in the morning and barely warm in the late afternoon.
    Coke Ovens via Battle Axe
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Artisan Well- Martinez - Coke Oven -Loop
    I've wanted to hike the entire Martinez canyon ever since I've seen it from the new AZT # 16 section. We'll this time I worked it into a hike.
    I parked at the artisan well. The road in was a bit rougher from the last time.

    I headed on the old AZT. At one point I almost slipped on rock and noticed there was ice on it. I looked around and found some icicles hanging and dripping. The drippings formed ice stalagmites! I saw a couple more ice spots. I was only at 3,500 feet.

    I made it to the new AZT16 TH and saw CannondaleKid's water cache. I went on the AZT down to the old corral and then headed into Martinez canyon. There was an old cement spring box at the bottom.

    The trip down the canyon was pretty mild. It was what I expected from what I could see from other hikes. The canyon was pretty wide with not much vegetation. I had to go down a couple of 3~4 foot dry water falls.
    About 3/4 a mile down, I found two wooden boxes in the grass. I couldn't figure out what here were for. About a mile in, my GPS showed I was on a road and going past Martinez's well. I didn't see any well or any evidence of a road. In fact the canyon started to close up and become rockier.
    I was about 200 feet from where explored the canyon from the other side when I hit a showstopper! ](*,) :scared: I ran into a narrow 15 foot waterfall! I wasn't so committed to finishing this canyon, I would have turned around. I was able to climb up and over this area. Climbing is not something I enjoy. So I decided this was a one-time hike. I hit another waterfall, but this one was only 6 feet and getting around it was easier. I finally made it to the old mill!
    A section of track that went over the canyon has fallen down. (see my pics).

    On the way out of the canyon I saw the new locked gate. Martinez canyons is now closed to motor vehicles, but open to horse and foot travel. I did see a motor cycle track print in the canyon!
    I went to the corral on the way out and had lunch. I headed over to the Cochran Coke ovens. I then proceeded down Battle Axe Road. I checked out the Gila River, it's flowing pretty wide and fast.

    I returned to the Jeep via Battle Axe road. I was very surprised on the360 degrees views from Battle Axe road. The views are spectacular. I was also checking on the road conditions for a possible family outing to the Cochran Coke Ovens.

    The temps would have been perfect if it wasn't for the gusting cold winds. Surprisingly I didn't see one person the entire day. Not even any vehicles or hunters.
    Coke Ovens via Battle Axe
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Mineral Mtn Quadrangle - Slot Canyons
    Long 4x4 drive out to the SE corner of the Mineral Mountain Quadrangle followed by a very short hike to explore a number of slot canyons.

    We came in from the west via Cottonwood & Martinez Canyon Roads. After visiting the Coke Ovens Gummo wished for a something a bit less adventurous than the drive out so we went east along Battle Axe Road and up to Superior on the return.
    Coke Ovens via Battle Axe
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Due to my abbreviated recon 4x4 trip two days ago I was eager to return to complete the unfinished business. Knowing I would be tackling even tougher terrain than last trio I recruited my neighbor Richard to ride along as my co-pilot/spotter.

    Again I started out on Battle Axe Road from the east only this time we took the Walnut Canyon loop counter-clockwise and thus see it from a different perspective. In this direction the roughest and most washed-out areas are uphill so it was a little more trial-by-fire for the air locker and it proved to work great, giving me even more confidence to tackle more difficult terrain. At the SE point of the loop we crossed the dry Gila River and drove a few miles in hopes of locating an old Jeep/pack trail to the Golden Bell Mine. One the drive south we didn't see anything that gave an impression of any trail after turning around and heading back north there appeared to to a slight ridge situated along where my information indicated in may be. But without getting out and walking some distance on foot we couldn't tell and with plenty more recon to do we headed on to complete the Walnut Canyon Loop.

    I was quite surprised by the number of items of interest presented themselves by traveling the opposite direction, which just meant we'll have plenty more hiking to do in the near future. We stopped at a campsite on a small mesa providing an awesome view... will have to try it soon. On the way up last last few climbs there was a tarantula where I needed to place a tire so I stopped, got out, took a photo then started a video while giving it a slight nudge to move it along. It moved a little but stopped too soon so I attempted to get it to crawl onto my hand so I could set it out of the way. While it had no problem climbing over my fingers, it didn't appear to like my driving half-gloves (necessary to prevent blisters from constant wheel kick-back... with no power steering and a small steering wheel you get plenty) and skittered away. Oh well, at least it moved out of harm's way and we could proceed.

    Once out of the Walnut Canyon loop we headed on out to the Coke Ovens, which Richard had never seen before. (Actually he had never seen 90% of the areas we would cover) When we got to the hole that was mud a few days back it was almost dry so it was without even a slip of a tire that we climbed up that part. Next was the brutal couple-hundred-yard climb up the hill after passing through the tree-tunnel along the river bottoms. Bog slow was the only way to do it without rattling our teeth, yet they still felt like they were rattling. Now on the ridge heading toward the ovens we had a great view of the surrounding terrain. Down another jarring hill and a short jaunt across to the ovens and we were ready for a quick tour of the ovens and grab a lunch while we were there. We were just about to start eating when a group of 3 ATV's and two Jeeps (box-stock mid-50's CJ on street tires and a mid-60's CJ slightly better equipped) showed up... oh great... now I know why there are so my ATV accidents, all but one had a Bud Light beer in-hand and he had a Coors Light. By their manner and conversation there were all pretty well lubricated. After a short conversation we found they were all from the Coolidge area and enjoying a day off together. When asked if they may be hunters they replied, no we just like to piss off hunters. They were friendly enough and freely offered us some beer which we declined, wishing to have our full faculties available to us on the upcoming treacherous area. Thankfully they headed back south across the river from whence they came and we headed into the next portion of our adventure.

    Although I knew the more westerly route heading north had some very difficult steps we figured we'd try it anyway. But when we got to the first 4' step next to a pretty good drop, with no other vehicles along in case of trouble we went back to the ovens to take the easterly route, which being longer presented practically the same amount of difficulty to traverse. At a wash just before the toughest climb of the day we came across a four-door '52 Ford Crestliner that by the looks of it could possibly have been there since that time. I'd guess it was driven out here when the road still had gravel over it instead of the erosion-washed smooth boulders that are there today.

    We could have dawdled longer but with the hill of steps right but 50 feet away it was time to take it on. Not wanting to end up like the Ford we carefully scouted each section of the climb before attempting it. As uneven as the steps were it was necessary to weave back and forth to avoid the potential dangers to the vehicle. The extra care paid off... nothing but the tires made any contact with the terrain. Once at the top of the hill, having been this far from the north a few weeks back the rest was easy. (not really, it just seemed that way)

    Only one more obstacle that caused me trouble previously was left to tackle. Previously the big shelf was devoid of stacked rocks to aid climbing it but this time there were a few. With a few minutes to add a few more strategically placed rocks the Samurai took it like it was a slanted driveway. With the last obstacle of consequence defeated we made one quick stop to see the petroglyphs in Cottonwood Canyon and we were on the way back home.

    Another fifty photos and more video as well as ideas for about a dozen places of interest to hike to in the next few months.
    Coke Ovens via Battle Axe
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Having driven out this way twice before, first with a Honda CR-V then with a Nissan Pathfinder and being stopped 2.5 miles from the ovens, now with a slightly modified Suzuki Samurai I figured I had the right vehicle. Since Gabriele had never been out to the coke ovens and was curious to see where Hank & Eric's trip came to an end, I figured this would be her chance.

    Other than stopping for many photos along the way it was pretty uneventful until we came to the hole that stopped me previously. It looked slightly worse than least time out so with some careful placement I gave it a shot only to hit the bump hard enough my foot came off the gas and the engine died. I got it fired up again and with a quick stab on the gas I was up and over the obstacle which had stymied me twice before. The next 1/2 mile was pretty smooth in the river bottoms but the next 1/4 mile was the roughest ground I'd ever traversed in vehicle in my life. I'm sure would be tough enough on a quad, and it was more than tough in the Samurai, but as long as it was moving I kept it going. Gabriele felt we should stop and call it a day, but I said nothing doing, we're so close I wasn't about to turn back. At one spot near the top of the worst climb, even going only about 1 mph, we went over such a big rock followed by a hole than she almost hit the ceiling. Just another hundred feet and the rough part was over.

    Having seen the severe drop on the main road to the ovens from this side, we took a side road which was another tough area. The worst spot Gabriele got out ahead of me to spot for me, as well as take a video. Once past that it wasn't much to get to the ovens. A few minutes to take photos there then we followed Hank & Eric's route to the Gila River, where I walked almost 2/3's the way across the river in the rapids before the river dropped from 6" deep to over three feet in barely 3 steps. Luckily I had a stick that I was probing with or I might have dropped in and gotten caught in the current. Gabriele took a few shot of me in the river, then we turned around for the return trip.

    Shortly after leaving the river coming around a corner I heard what I initially thought was trees scraping against the vehicle when I looked out and saw a coiled up rattler making his presence known. I barely had time to reach back, grab my camera, turn it on and snap a quick 2-shot sequence before he went up inside the mesquite tree. After that little drama there was much more to come... except for going UP some of the worst stuff as well as back down the other side. I was thinking of driving out Hank & Eric's route but not knowing the terrain that well, not having the track loaded on my GPS and Gabriele worried about the larger clouds rolling in and we decided to back track our way out. It was a perfect day, breezy enough to keep the heat down. I'll be heading back out there following Hank & Eric's route next trip.

    I didn't take as many photos as Gabriele and she has a video of me traversing on of the worst obstacles of the trip. I can't wait to see it.
    Coke Ovens via Battle Axe
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    After three previous failed attempts to reach the Coke Ovens (from 3 different directions) we wondered if we'd ever get out there without a long and grueling hike. Now that I swapped to a 4x4 Nissan Pathfinder we thought it was time to try it. We followed Hank's route from the 60, getting another 4 miles farther than we ever did in my CR-V but again we were stopped short of our destination. We encountered a large shelf that I do believe the Pathfinder could have made it down, due to the loose stacked rocks to drive along I wasn't sure we'd be able to make it back up without some more experienced spotters. So we turned around and headed back out to the 60.

    But with a full day set aside for this trip we were not about to give up. Once back at the 60 we headed to Superior and south to Battleax Road and see if we could get farther in that way. We were stopped about 2 miles short of the ovens when we attempted it in my CR-V t the end of January, so again with the Pathfinder we hoped to make it closer. Although the drive out on Battleax was much easier than with the CR-V, we got stopped in the same spot. If it was the same condition as last time we'd have done it but there was more erosion and without experienced four-wheeling helper I didn't want to force it... at least until I get a few more mods done to the Pathfinder and go out along with another 4x4 for company, and help if needed.

    Although I'm waiting for arthroscopic surgery for a badly torn meniscus in the left knee and for the foreseeable future planned on four-wheeling instead of hiking, being this close I wasn't about to let this one slip away again. After all, it appeared to be just a few miles to the ovens, so we set out on foot, while I was trying to be very mindful of the knee. Well the two miles was not flat or straight by any means, but again, wanting to get to the destination became more important than how my knee felt. After plenty of climbing on loose gravel and rocks we finally caught sight of the ovens and the task seemed surmountable. As soon as we got to a point where we could get a nice wide-angle shot, before I could take the picture two guys on ATV's who had passed us earlier drove right up to the ovens and parked in plain sight. Dang, so much for that photo! :roll: Oh well, we thought maybe we'd get the shot on the way back, only later realizing we wouldn't take the same way back.

    We plodded on and finally made it to the ovens. The ATV'ers were still there so took we our first photos from behind the ovens, then some closeups inside and around the ovens. Shortly after we started on the return trip the ATV'ers left so we began to climb up just far enough to get the wide angle shot, only to have another group arrive from the other side, again parking in plain sight. ](*,) Oh well, from our vantage point, with a little creativity I could stand strategically so some vegetation covered up the ATV's just enough it appeared they weren't there. Not wanting to climb as much on the return trip, we took a lower route closer to the Gila River, planning on following a ridge line to avoid the highest peaks. After getting almost cliffed-out a few times and having to wind around eventually we were forced to climb back up to the road anyway. When we got back home and looked at the GPS track we ended up hiking .2 mile farther on the return trip. :doh:

    While I didn't do my knee any favors and likely made it worse, we finally reached our goal. Also I gained four-wheeling experience and I'm learning more what my 'new' 4x4 can and can't do. I'm sure I'll get plenty more four-wheeling experience while awaiting the time I can get hiking seriously again. Unfortunately as slow as the process takes going through the VA it may be August before I'm back to hiking again. :cry:

    The complete set of photos are here:
    http://www.changephoenix.com/11/2011-03-09CokeOvens.html
    Coke Ovens via Battle Axe
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We tried back in November to get to the coke ovens coming down from Cottonwood Canyon but had to park too far away that even an 8 mile hike didn't get us there. So with the new hike description coming in from the east we thought we'd give it a shot. While I wouldn't normally mind a reasonable hike on a nice day like we had, my left knee had been giving enough pain we hoped to drive much closer and then hike the last little bit.

    It was a nice drive with almost too many things to photograph so it was taking quite some time. Eventually we decided to stop taking pictures and just keep going or we'd never get there.

    So when we came upon 4 cows in the road, I wasn't about to stop and wait for them to decided whether they wanted to move for us or not and just kept moving toward them. Within 30' there was a switchback with plenty of room for 4 cows and us to pass, but only one cow took the hint and stayed to the side. Now we're down to 3 cows to get past. When they got in one single file we had room to pass and started picking up little speed (going up a very steep uphill here so faster was still only 5-8 mph) to pass, one of them decided to be the leader and moved out to the side to pass the one in front, and none of the three was willing to drop behind so it was three abreast. So I just followed close behind until something changed. Within probably a hundred yards they slowed and dropped into single file again so I picked up speed quickly enough to get next to them before they could spread out and it was just a matter of keeping enough traction to keep climbing until the last cow realized all he had to do was stop. Thankfully they seemed in a good enough mood none of them attempted any aggressive moves and as close as I came to them, not a scratch from either of the two with horns. However, by the end of the day there were plenty of new Arizona pinstripes all along both sides.

    Unfortunately in one spot I attempting to drive up, we were teetering back-and-forth between LF/RR & RF/LR wheels being in the air, so without a locking rear axle I was unable to continue. After a bit of work to back out of the spot (I couldn't turn around) we gave up on the ovens and tried another wash going north. Within 100 yards we could go no further so we hiked out-and-back for a total for the day of just under a mile.

    No matter, we decided we will return again when either my knee is back to normal (for a 60 yr old with arthritis anyway) and/or I have a true 4WD vehicle.

    BTW, while the road was in fact in pretty good shape and even a car with just reasonable clearance and a careful driver could make it almost as far as we did, if there's rain, that could change quickly.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Phoenix, take SR60 to Superior, and then south on SR177 to milepost 159. Continue about .9 miles to the unmarked turnoff for Battle Axe Road and TH.
    page created by sventre on Jan 17 2011 2:42 pm
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