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The Cave via Red Mountain Mine Rd, AZ

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Guide 2 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior SW
5 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.63 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,690 feet
Elevation Gain 719 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,050 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.88
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Possible & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
35  2012-01-31
Mineral Mtn Quad - Peak 3306 Thumb
45  2011-12-07 CannondaleKid
7  2011-12-07 trixiec
30  2011-12-07 CannondaleKid
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,492
Trips 1,898 map ( 15,608 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:28pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
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Culture Nearby
Slots & Caves
by CannondaleKid

After a great deal of research about the area bounded on the north by the US 60, on the east by SR 177, along the south by the Gila River and on the west by SR 79 I haven't found any specific name for either the mountain, the canyon immediately below this cave, or the cave itself so I'm just going to call this hike "The Cave". I thought of "The Window Cave" because there is a window out the back but the description is long enough already.

I had made note of this cave some months back and added it to my list for a future hiking destination. But during my 4x4 recon trip on 12/5 I reached an overlook less than half a mile across a deep wash from it, and appearing to be Cookie Monster with his mouth open wide I decided it would be our next hike. The only problem with approaching it from the overlook was the 2+ hour serious 4x4 tooth-rattling drive to get there and Tracey wasn't too keen on traversing all the rough steep and rocky areas to get there. Coming from the Gila River was out due to it flowing again so the only other option was coming in from Battle Axe Road. Although the highway driving distance was longer, once on dirt it was about the same but at least one could drive a stock 4x4 in from Battle Axe. The road isn't nearly as bad and saves about an hour. Although our start point was at N33 07.166 W111 08.743, very few vehicles would make it the last few hundred yards so you'll note the TH is just over a quarter mile south, which means the hike will be about .6 mile longer than the GPS track for our hike.

While the hike itself to the cave can be short and quick from an east or west approach, whichever way to decide to try it, make sure you do a loop following the deep wash to the west. From less than a 1/4 mile away I would never have thought it but as we were making our way up the wash it turned into a very narrow slot canyon, narrowing more at each turn until we hit a dead end. If we were canyoneers with climbing equipment I'm sure we could have climbed out but that not being the case we backed out, bypassed a bit farther and tried again. Only to run into the next dead end. Still, it was well worth the effort each time.

Once out of the wash our loop took us north and east around the mountain then back south along a short concurrent section of the Arizona Trail (a new section just completed) continuing along what was the Red Mountain Mine Road a long time ago. Today only VERY serious rock crawlers could hope to traverse it.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2011-12-10 CannondaleKid
    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
    The Cave via Red Mountain Mine Rd
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    The original plan for the day was to climb a few mountains and visit a wreckage along the way. But the Samurai is out of commission for a few days with a broken spring so that meant the hike would be 4 miles longer. The drive in from Battle Axe was easier but with the extra distance through Superior and the extra hiking miles it was obvious the plan had to change. By time we reached the point of the original planned 'trailhead' it was three hours later than expected. Two of those hours were spent hiking uphill-and-down along the newly completed AZT#16. Having hiked in the wash below a month ago the up-and-downs did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm we gained from this new perspective from far above. The views were simply awesome!

    Finally to our 'start' point 3 hours behind the plan morphed into a 'follow the AZT#16 until we feel like turning around or until something more interesting popped up' while doing recon for future hikes. And as usual for those of us with advanced cases of ADD, something else did catch our attention. Off in the distance we noticed what appeared to to be a road heading off to the west along the base of Peak 3306. With the thought of a return trip with the Samurai we just had to check out this 'road'. 'Road' it may have looked like from a half-mile away, but close up was pretty obvious it hadn't seen use in years if not 60+. (It wasn't on my 60 year old map) Ok, road or not, we had to follow it to its conclusion. By time it faded into nothing we were halfway around Peak 3306, or The Thumb so we decided to continue one around.

    So far the going had been reasonably easy and we didn't expect that to change, but change it did. The canoyn we dropped into got narrower and thicker with brush the farther we went. At each new obstacle the conversation 'do we continue or turn back?' would take place and each time 'let's cover new ground' took precedence over 'what if we can't get through' so the circumnavigation continued. A few times we had to climb up the canyon walls to make it through some sections but eventually we broke out onto a road I had driven on the way to my canyon hike last week and we knew we were home free. Now it's just a matter of walking along the road until we hit the wide flat wash until we reconnected with AZT#16 again for the last 2 miles of hiking back to the car. Having covered this ground by vehicle and on foot numerous times before I expected it to be a bit of a chore, but this time I wasn't alone and the time passed so quickly it took me by surprise when we hit the AZT#16 again.

    Although our plan changed drastically it turned out to be well worth the change... and the other mountains are still there. I'll have the Samurai up and running shortly and we'll be ready for another shot at it.

    All 56 photos are posted here:
    The Cave via Red Mountain Mine Rd
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Since it was only thought to be a hike past a cave followed by a loop up and around a long wash and back to the car I had planned on referring to this hike as the Cave and Wash Tour. But to our pleasant surprise a more accurate description would be the Cave, Cat Scat, Skunk & Slot Canyon Tour.

    When I first laid eyes on this cave from afar a few months back I knew it was only a matter of time and opportunity before I would hike to it. Reaching to within a 1/2 mile of it while on my 12/5 4x4 recon trip was all it took to bring it to the top of my to-do list. But instead of taking the long and rough tooth-rattling 2+ hour 4x4 trip in from SR 79 on the west through Cottonwood Canyon, we decided on the longer-by-highway but shorter and relatively smoother dirt-road drive in from the east on Battle Axe Road. Just over an hour from home to Battle Axe Rd and another hour to the designated trailhead. From there we drove absolutely as far as the Samurai would go including some extra effort which brought us within .3 mile of The Cave, albeit on the other side of the mountain.

    Prepared to hike all the way around the mountain if need be, after scanning the terrain upward I felt it was worth a shot to head up, find an opening across the top and over to the other side. I didn't think Tracey was too enthused about that idea because it did look very steep, but being the good trooper she hung in there and followed me all the way up and over. I must admit it wasn't as simple as that because the terrain was very steep and very loose to boot. So being methodical, very slow and careful is how we took it. Once over the top we found the terrain much more stable and with the back of the cave in plain sight it was just a matter of selecting the easiest route to the cave. In a manner of minutes I was climbing up into it. I made the mistake of telling Tracey there weren't any artifacts or the like in it so of course she no longer saw a need to climb up herself. Next time I'll just say, Wow! You gotta see this!! and then maybe she'll make the effort.

    Ok, now that we've been to the cave what next? With all manner of terrain and interesting formations around us it would have made little difference which route we took back around the mountain, we would not have been without something of interest. To begin with we headed north across some rolling terrain then cut toward the wash below. Just before reaching the wash we came upon a distinctive rock that reminded me of a dromedary camel, the one with two humps. (See photo set) What to do here... climb up and over or go around? With a quick glance at the steep and uncertain terrain Tracey didn't hesitate a moment before saying I'll go around. But with the fascination factor kicking in I wasn't about to let something like this to stop me. Within a minute or two I was almost to the saddle and ready to say it was a piece-of-cake when a whole section of the terrain I was standing on let loose and started sliding. :o Luckily I was already stepping onto a more stable rock and was able to escape the small avalanche. After that small episode I was a bit more careful on my climb to the highest point where I took a few photos of our route this far.

    Once off the dromedary we headed straight for the wash below. We had barely started along the wash when we spotted some large cat prints almost 5" across the pad. Due to the rain I experienced when I drove along the upper part of this wash a few days before, I knew they were pretty fresh prints. OK, there's a good-sized mountain lion around these parts so we'll keep that in mind as we continue up the narrowing and deepening wash. The prints continued as did we until we found ourselves in a slot canyon. As it narrowed we got the feeling it wouldn't be long before we hit a dead end, or at least would have to climb up to continue. It was a dead end for us... but not the cat, as there were no prints going back as we were forced to do. As we headed back some distance to a point we could more easily climb up and detour around and above the dead end slot we found a dead skunk that we had neither seen nor smelled on our way into the slot. Whether it was a weird wind shift or not, we now could smell it but it wasnt very strong.

    When we arrived just above where we were stopped, again we saw the cat prints so the mountain lion must have taken a good leap to escape what was a dead end for us. The same thing happened a second time when we came to the next dead end. This time once we got above it we stayed up there while we scouted the next slot and sure enough it ended even sooner. So from that point we detoured along the west side of the canyon to avoid the steep terrain to the east. No longer in the canyons we saw no more of the cat prints.

    Eventually we came to where it opened up again immediately below a man-made concrete weir. Tracey wasn't sure we could climb up that section so we didn't drop down into it until making our way around to the weir and it looked easier. It was easy to drop down but after taking a few photos it took a bit more effort to get out. I managed to get enough grip from my Teva's to climb up where we dropped in but Tracey tried another way that provided vegetaion to provide some grip.

    Now that we were out of the narrow, rocky part of the canyon it changed into a very wide and smooth wash, the same one I had driven a few days before on my recon trip. The going was pretty easy, that is if you call walking along the soft sand of a beach easy. Never-the-less we continued on around the mountain because it didn't provide any other way over. Along the north end of our loop we were practically in the shadow of a butte that gave the appearance of a thumb, which necessitated a number of photos.

    As we started heading south to our vehicle we walked along a new section of the Arizona Trail, completed just a few weeks or so ago. Once we were down in the wash where the Red Mountain Mine Road used to be (it's only good for extreme rock crawlers now) we turned off the AZT and headed on down the large bouldered wash to our start point. After our White Canyon adventures last month we didn't expect to find anything to rival those boulders but these were close.

    Although we took our time exploring many of the features along the hike, we had more than enough time to do some more 4x4 recon on the way out Battle Axe Road, so we did, including another run through Walnut Canyon which Tracey had not seen. She got a chance to see just how rough a terrain the Sammy could handle with ease. Oh yeah, while Tracey had gate duty, I had to help on the last barbed-wire & stick one. Shortly I'll post another set of photos as well as writing up another 4x4 triplog of the adventures we had on the 4x4 recon part of our day.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    Take US 60 to the east end Superior, turn right (south) on SR 177 and follow it to a point .9 mile PAST mile marker 159. Turn right (west) onto the dirt Battle Axe Road. Continue to follow Battle Axe Road (stick to the most traveled road at any intersection) for about 11.4 miles where you will not off to the right a new Arizona Trail sign. Immediately past the sign you will go down a steep hill, then at the bottom make almost a 180 degree turn to the right and follow the wash (which is Red Mountain Mine Rd) until you aren't comfortable going any farther. If you set your odometer when you turned off SR 177 onto Battle Axe Road it should show about 11.6 miles to the TH.
    page created by CannondaleKid on Dec 10 2011 4:52 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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