Summary: This is a hike starting from the Oracle Ridge trail and descending down to Dan Saddle, then cutting west on the Catalina Camp Trail #401 down to an old abandoned mine and settlement site complete with old cabins and relics. From here you can continue on down a short way to the intersection with the Red Ridge trail to return up to the Ski Valley road, or simply turn around and climb back up the way you came.
Hike: The first leg of this trail takes off from the Oracle Ridge trailhead, which is located on the Oracle Control road, just a short ways past the fire station. The Oracle Ridge trail #1 takes off from the signed trailhead and immediately skirts west around the base of Peak 8077. The trail is exposed the whole way down to the saddle. he area near the trailhead was heavily burned in the fire and is now slowly making itt's comeback. In the summer this area, especially on the west flank of 8077, will just be blanketed with wildflowers. As you descend more, you will run the ridgeline with expansive views out both east and west. The trail is a little overgrown but never hard to follow. After passing 8077 and descending a further way you can see Marble Peak out to your right sitting at 7654 feet, notice the trail heading along it's west flank. You will come to a level saddle called Stratton Saddle before cutting along the west flank of Marble Peak. Just past Marble Peak an old jeep track cuts back to your right and heads north up towards the top. Continue on down Oracle Ridge. You are more than halfway to Dan Saddle. To your left are outstanding views of the rugged Reef of Rock, and Red Ridge one ridge closer. You can see out forever east, north and west to sections of the Catalinas rarely, rarely seen. Soon thereafter the trail will intermittently break off the jeep track on the left and will be signed with small trail markers. The more narrow path drops down some switchbacks to rejoin the jeep track. It will break off to the left one more time then dump you back on the track at Dan Saddle, an intersection sitting at roughly 6880 feet. The Oracle Ridge trail continues on north straight ahead. A gated off road breaks off to your right and heads east ultimately descending down to Oracle Control Road. You want the signed Catalina Camp Trail #401 which heads to your left and descends west.
The Catalina Camp trail descends about 1200 feet along an overgrown old jeep track along a steep canyon or drainage the eventually leads down to an old mine and establishment. The track is overgrown and grassy. It switchbacks many times and on occasion can be a little hard to follow. There are a couple sections where narrow paths break off the road and descend. Sometimes they reconnect with the road lower down and sometimes they descend sharply and fade away. Some of these are likely gametrails or cattle paths heading down to the water below. I would recommend avoiding these and trying to stay on the old road. After about a mile of descending you can spot the old tin roof of the Camp down to your left. The road starts to switchback down more ernestly here towards the csbin. Just before you hit it, notice a small cairned path heading off right into the drainage to your right/north. This leads to a small old mine, complete with a narrow glory hole opening and still littered with old tools and sluices. This is presumably part of the Hartman Homestake Mines. Back on the path head down to the Catalina Camp, where an old small cabin and separate shed await you. Above the door to the cabin is the description "One Park Place" and within lie some strange things. There is an old, large chandelier inside among some canned goods and an old sink. There is a grill behind the main builing and a little farther down the path is a separate shed. If you continue on down the trail past the shed, it narrows down a little and passes through an amazing oak forest, paralleling the East Fork of Canada del Oro for a little ways. The East Fork may well be flowing during the rainy season. Just before the creek you will come to an old signed intersection marking the end of the Catalina Camp trail at 5680 feet and roughly 1.7 miles from Dan Saddle, 4.2 miles from your car. You can return the way you came or make a left here on the Red Ridge Trail #2 and cross the East Fork creek and climb roughly 3.1 miles (2480 feet) up to the Catalina Highway/Ski Valley Road, which you can walk about 1 mile back to your car to complete an excellent Catalina highcountry "backside" loop.
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Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
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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.
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