Slip sliding away
Overview: Mining Mountain is the obviously landslide-strewn mountain a mile southeast from the ranger station, across Aravaipa Creek. There is no drivable access to the jeep trail, due to being across the creek. The hike starts across from the gate / abandoned backhoe, as that is the closest Aravaipa Rd gets, and there are no nearby houses. But ... there is private property all along the creek, so obey any "no trespassing signs". The hike is about 90% jeep trail.
Hike: From the backhoe, the steepest part of the climb is the first couple hundred yards, up to the pile of bricks and pipes. After that the climb becomes shallow, but steady. After a third of a mile, turn right (south) towards the 1st overlook of Holy Joe Canyon. It almost looks as if someone had long ago started to prepare the overlook for a home site. However, no vehicle has been done up here in at least six years. (I have not seen the backhoe move since I've been visiting Aravaipa.) A wash to the right descends to Holy Joe Canyon, below the smaller first wall.
There are a number of roughly 5'x5' concrete slabs scattered up the jeep trail. (You can see them on MapDEX satellite view.) A mile in, by a trio of slabs, you can turn right up a wash as alternate approach to the 2nd overlook. If you continue up the jeep trail, it now becomes completely overgrown with grass, giving evidence that it has likely been a decade or more since anyone visited the 2nd overlook. At the T-intersection, left is down towards Vale School, right is towards the 2nd overlook, and right, followd by a quick left, is towards the horizontal mine. First, go right. A few hundred yards down the trail is a vehicle gate. (Why, I have no idea, as there is no longer any vehicle access to the jeep trail.) There is no fence, so walk around the gate. Just beyond the gate is the 2nd overlook, with a rock grinder, generator / lightset for night mining, and even a kitchen sink! If you continue off the backside of the 2nd overlook, there is a trail that appears to safely descend an otherwise steep and slippery slope to Holy Canyon, above the first smaller wall, and below the second larger wall.
Returning to the main jeep trail, it is a short walk up to the horizontal mine. Unfortunately, the road dead ends below the mine, which sits atop a very slippery pile of rocks. The left approach is faster, but more dangerous, while the right approach is not dangerous, but is extremely slippery. If you wish to peak Mining Mountain, this is definitely not the way to go. The works appear to be 80+ years old.
Returning a second time to the main jeep trail, descend towards the Vale School ruins, which you will reach about 3.0 miles into your hike. Google gives no results for the old school, but it has obviously been 45+ years since it closed. (As evidenced by the graffiti.)
Since there are houses directly across the creek from Vale School, you will want to return the way you came: 500 feet AEG back up to the jeep trail intersection, then a mile back down to Aravaipa Creek.
For more info on Holy Joe Canyon, see this triplog and photoset.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
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.