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The Climax Mine Loop is a 75% jeep trail, 20% wash walking, and 5% bushwhacking lasso loop hike, whose loop is at the start/end, and "handle" is away. The Climax Mine is three miles out, at the distant end. Most of the elevation gain comes from the long, shallow climb up from the Hassayampa River.
Some of the claims are being actively worked (RT and Climax), while others are pending work (Alliance). Respect any posted signs. Also, let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back, as if you get trapped in a shaft, with no SPOT reception, you will be FUBARed.
The Hassayampa River has some good size pools, but no running water in dry months. The water looked good enough to filter.
The hike starts from the large, black, gravel pullout at Glen Oaks, about three miles north of Wilhoit on US 89. You begin by hiking east along what starts as a car-drivable jeep trail.
0.4 mi.: The jeep trail gets too rocky and rutted for a car. In another quarter mile, you will arrive at small saddle. This is the physical high point of the hike. Nearby poles indicate it is the Alliance Mining ( http://alliancemining.com/?page_id=321 ) claim. Just north is a pleasant, grassy, plateau with good views of Burro Wallow / Board Creek and the mountains on the east side of the Hassayampa River. The jeep trail splits at the saddle. If you continue east, it quickly peters out into a trail too rutted even for 4WD. Go to the right. In a few hundred yards you will be back on US 89, a half mile southeast of where you started.
1.0 mi.: Turn southeast onto FR 710, which should be avoided by cars. An AWD SUV could get down it, maybe as far as Catoctin Mine, but would have to be cautious. High clearance 4WD could get all the way to Climax Mine, no problem.
1.5 mi.: Pass through a broken/open gate. My first attempt at this hike, bushwhacked across the ridge from the Alliance Mining claim to this point. Don't repeat that painful mistake.
1.75 mi.: Small clearing with ribbons on the north side. Satellite view shows a trail, but prescottstyle and I never found it, ending up making another painful bushwhack to Board Creek. Stay on FR 710.
1.95 mi.: Catoctin Mine. The adit is about 1' x 3', so probably not a good idea to enter. The shaft is choked with brush. There is a garbage strewn concrete pad around the corner.
2.25 mi.: Unnamed mine. The adit is covered with rock fall and brush. The shaft is clear of obstructions. On your return trip back up FR 710, this is where you will bushwhack the ridge.
2.9 mi. : Turn south on the Hassayampa River. In dry season, at least, you should be able cross with dry feet, despite the many pools of water. You will pass a collapsed red shack on the right, then Trail 274 (east to Big Chief Mine / FR 97B).
3.5 mi.: Just past the The second broken / open gate, the jeep trail splits. To your right, is Lower Climax Mine. Go left, up hill, to Upper Climax Mine. At the head of the very small canyon you will see a rusted metal door. There is some rock fall, but when I was there it was not loose, and the opening was safe to enter. Once inside, you can stand up, no problem. It does not look like the upper mine is being actively worked, as there is junk strewn everywhere. There are two shafts, left and right. Natural light extends about 50 feet inside; anything past that requires a flashlight. Supposedly, there are shafts which connect to the lower mine.
After exiting the upper mine, go back downhill to the split, then turn left to the lower mine. When I was there, it was guarded by a popup trailer, so give a shout to make sure no one is home. The claim is owned by Max, who prescottsyle tells me is a friendly guy. Maybe he will give you a tour. If not, there is a locked door, so you will have to settle for checking out the equipment around the adit entrance, then the processing area along the creek. After exploring, return up the Hassayampa River.
4.9 mi: Turn west back up FR 710. If you continue along the river, the jeep trail disappears, being replaced by a goat trail through the brush. After a quarter mile, you will be on RT's claim. RT is also a nice guy, but he actually lives on his claim, and has posted "Keep Out" signs, so go back to FR 710.
5.5 mi: When you get back to the unnamed mine, turn northeast across the ridge. The steep first 20 feet up from the road cut are slippery. Once you are up, there are plenty of grab & stabs, but much, much less than the previously mentioned bushwhacks. Plus it is only a few hundred yards to Board Creek, mostly down hill.
5.75 mi.: Board Creek, a hundred yards up canyon from RT's claim. I did not see running water, even after 10 hours of rain. There are grassy areas, and some sandy areas, dense brush and even very minor scrambling. Lots of animal holes too, so careful not to break an ankle.
6.6 mi.: Two shacks, one collapsed, one very decrepit, and two auto wrecks. Personally, I'd shelter in one of the cars before I did the shack. (prescottstyle: "That's some hantavirus **** in there.") After checking out the area, turn east up the jeep trail. In a hundred yards, the jeep trail splits. Go east to check out another adit. It's a bit down a rather loose looking slope, so I did not explore it. Back at the split, go northwest.
7.5 mi.: Breccia Claim. If you know minerals -- I don't -- check it out. There is also a shaft. Just past the claim is a third open gate.
7.9 mi.: You will be on the west side of Board Creek. Across the creek, you can see another claim pole. Might be some stuff -- what I call a whazzit (i.e., "what is it?") -- to check out there. Not far past the claim/whazzit, just before you get to US 89, turn southwest up a small rise, then follow the web of jeep trails back to Glen Oaks. Just before the trailhead, will be a graffiti tunnel under US 89. If you are like me, check it out. (I figure better there than on my house or business.)
8.5 mi.: Alaskan Pumpkin Porter time!
Dry Weather Video
Wet Weather Video
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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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