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.
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.