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not Salado culture, but a nice climb
Data updated to reflect the specific one-way segment and name changed from "Mine Trail". The beginning of the trail appears to be 0.5mi up the Lost Ranch Mine Trail or 1.1mi from the Chandler/19th Ave trailhead. Description below is from the Chandler/19th Ave trailhead.
The Ruins Trail is one of many new trails in the southwestern section of South Mountain Park. None of these trails appear to have been given official names yet, but this one has been unofficially named the Ruins Trail according to a map posted on www.mikeshikes.net, undoubtedly because of the abandoned building at the lower end of the trail. (The names of the other trails in this area are also taken from this source.) These "ruins" aren't Indian ruins, but the term still seems to apply somewhat. This trail is very steep in sections, but as a result, it gets you up to the ridge and the National Trail rather quickly.
Start at the end of Chandler Blvd. where the road barricade is. As of Feb. 2011, parking spaces have been striped in along the end of the road there as parking for hikers. A section of trail is visible just beyond the barricade heading west. This trail will head west for a few hundred yards and then turn north and east. A shortcut is to head north on 19th Ave., intersecting Chandler Blvd. at the dead end. From the end of that short road, you drop down into a wash and through makeshift party area, complete with empty containers and an abandoned couch under a mesquite tree. Make your way past this mess and up out of the wash heading north to the trail. Once on the trail, head east. Pink "hairy" survey markers mark the trail in some spots, such as junctions, but the trail is well built and easy to follow.
At the first junction, head to your right. If you head east you will end up on the Gila View West Trail and on the ridgeline immediately in front of you on your left. Taking the trail to the right will swing you around the eastern edge of the ridge and towards the Valley Trail. Take the Valley Trail (in the lower portion of a wash) until you see a cairned junction to head up and out of the wash. This trail junction will be just past the junction of two washes and the trail you take will be like taking the right part of a fork of two trails, similar to the one at the beginning. Once you're out of the wash, the wash heading north towards South Mt. should be to your right. If it's to your left, you turned too soon. Go back and get up on the west side of the wash.
This junction is the beginning of the Ruins Trail. Once out of the wash, you'll be heading north towards the ruin and South Mt. This area is fairly level but with a gradual climb. About halfway to the ruins, you will encounter the junction of the Mine Drop Trail. Stay to your left and continue towards the ruin.
Once at the ruin, the modern day junk strewn about and graffiti is much more visible, making it very obvious that this is not a product of Salado culture. Look to the western most wall, which is about 4 feet high. A section of that wall is notched out to about 2 feet high and some rocks are piled to make it passable. That's where you pick the trail up to get to the National Trail. Once you get over this wall, a steep sided wash immediately adjacent to the ruins becomes visible. The trail down to the wash is very faint and dicey with a lot of scree. If you look past the wash, the trail coming out of it uphill on the other side is very prominent and much more stable looking than what's in front of you. Make your way over to that trail and you're on your way up the hill.
The trail here gets steep in a hurry, making it a nice workout and challenge. It's rocky in spots but not too bad. The trail heads NW and wraps around the west side of the canyon that lies behind the ruins. As you ascend, the views to your right into the canyon get much nicer. You can also see further south down towards Tucson if you look behind you.
The trail continues to curve north and then even west as it ascends along the canyon until it reaches a ridgeline. As you crest the ridge, you're facing southwest and the first view you see is the Estrellas. Once on the ridge, the trail makes a hard right to the north toward the National Trail and levels out. As you get closer to the National Trail, the Ruins Trail gets fainter, although it is still very easy to follow as the vegetation is very sparse. The rocks on the ground are small enough to be considered scree if the trail were steeper at this point. Once you get to the National Trail, a cairn is there adjacent to a palo verde tree to mark the junction, as the Ruins Trail at this point has all but disappeared (as of Feb. 2011). On a previous we hiked the National Trail looking for this junction to make our way down the Ruins Trail and missed it, so making your way uphill is the best bet if you want to make sure to do this one.
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This hike is listed as One-Way.
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