short but steep
2011-11-28 Data updated to reflect the specific one-way segment and name changed from "Mine Drop Trail". The beginning of the trail appears to be 0.6mi up the Pyramid Trail. Description below is from the Chandler/19th Ave trailhead.
Overview: Of all the new trails in the southwest area of South Mountain Park, the Mine Drop Trail is easily the steepest and most challenging trail, whether you're ascending or descending. This trail connects the lower end of the Valley Trail to the National Trail while passing by a not-so-abandoned mine shaft.
Hike: 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.
At this point, take the trail to your right to start on the Mine Drop Trail. This trail continues on a gradual climb until the mine, where there is another junction for a spur that will take you to the mine shaft. This mine shaft is horizontal and cut straight into the mountain. The entrance is a little tight, but once you're in, the mine shaft is walkable although you'll have to crouch a bit depending on how tall you are. On our first visit, I walked 50'+ in and make the first corner to the right. Looking further with my headlamp on, the mineshaft appeared to go several more hundred feet, certainly past where any daylight could reach. Not knowing what to expect in an abandoned mine, it seemed wise to not press much further.
There are also other remnants in this area of mining activity. Further to the south are more abandoned and eroded roads and walkways that look like they might have served as a staging area.
Right past the mine, the trail begins to switchback and ascend very quickly. To the west/southwest you can see the ruins, the Ruins Trail ascending on the west wall of the side canyon, and the valley below which the Valley Trail is in. As you ascend through the switchbacks and your views alternate from this and the views to the south and east, the Estrellas and Superstitions will become more visible with each pass. The general direction of the trail is to the NW during this switchback section.
Once you get past this, the trail cuts right to the NE and straightens out. However, it doesn't get any less steep here, making the rest of the ascent almost brutal. The trail finally levels out a little as it junctions with the Lost Mine Trail, which also ascends the mountain a little further east. This junction is somewhat faint and not marked very well. In fact, the most prominent markings here are sticks and rocks that block your way to the Lost Mine Trail, as if a sign to stay off that segment. The Lost Mine Trail description is covered in the Lost Camp Loop description, which is basically a Ruins Trail/Lost Mine Trail lasso loop from the trailhead.
From this junction the trail flattens out a little more until it junctions with the National Trail, giving way views to downtown Phoenix as you approach the ridge. This last section has a lot of abandoned vertical mine shafts that are visible from the trail. Some are several yards off the trail, making for a bit of adventure exploring if you're so inclined. From the top of this trail, you can go back the way you came, or take the Ruins or Lost Mine Trails back down for quickest access to where you started your ascent.
This trail is very clear of heavy vegetation, not being overgrown at all, like most of South Mt. Palo verdes, barrel cactus and teddy bear chollas seem to be the most common. Saguaros, strangely, are almost completely absent.
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.