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Climax Mine Loop, AZ

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Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott S
4 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 8.46 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,489 feet
Elevation Gain -827 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,735 feet
Avg Time One Way 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.24
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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21  2013-11-22 kingsnake
40  2013-11-07 kingsnake
71  2013-11-01 kingsnake
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, May, Mar
Sun  6:17am - 6:29pm
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0 Alternative
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by kingsnake

Overview: 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.

Warning: 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.

Water Sources: The Hassayampa River has some good size pools, but no running water in dry months. The water looked good enough to filter.

Hike: 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 ( ) 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.

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2013-11-24 kingsnake

    One-Way Notice
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Climax Mine Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I like rain. Love listening to it patter on my roof. When I lived in Wisconsin, I would go out on my porch to watch the lightning, enjoy the thunder, and listen to the distant tornado sirens. Unlike most Phoenicians, I don't fear driving in wet weather. (I've seen, multiple times, large pickup trucks slow down for "puddles" that, I am not kidding, were obviously a half inch deep.) But, unlike chumley, I don't look forward to actually hiking in it. Instead, I endure it. Plus, I had not hiked in two weeks, so there was no way I was backing out. Even though Payson was getting blasted, Prescott looked like it might be clearing. So, it was on.

    I'd been over this territory twice before, once with prescottstyle, but had yet to find a relatively un-stabby route across the ridge between FR 710 and Board Creek. This time, I hit pay dirt. Or mud, as it were. Only problem was that by the time I got to where I wanted to start the bushwhack, I was having a hard time seeing. Between the rain and/or fog on my glasses, or the rain washing stinging sweat into my eyes, it was not fun. (Long story, but it reminded me of an eye injury I sustained while in the Army.) Plus the Dollar Store rain "coat", shredded by the grab & stabs, was getting under foot, amost tripping me on several occasions. I thought about ditching the garbage bag coat, but having already sacrificed my cheapo camera to the rain, did not want to do the same to my iPhone. So, I kept the raggedy bag on. It's wierd, but the rocks are actually slipperier dry than wet. I was hoping to check out some whazzits, but by the time I got to the cabin/car ruins, I was fed up -- I'd planted many pumpkins in the canyon -- so I concentrated on getting back to the trailhead as quick as possible, forgoing not only breaks, but also a second bottle of water. (For various reasons, I carry bottled water in my pack.)

    As I emerged from the woods, a cop drove by. I'm surprised he didn't stop to see if I was up to no good, because I sure looked like hell. I was shaking. Not the real hard shaking, but the kind where you feel the muscles -- or, in my case, fat -- on your chest quiver. It was two hours, and two large cappuccinos, before I fet normal again.

    Climax Mine Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Met up with Paul (Prescottstyle) at Bistro St. Michael's on the northwest corner of Courthouse Square at 0730. I had coffee and a yogurt parfait. (Now that you are impressed with my healthy eating, know that I ate a spicy sausage roll :y: and a donut on the drive up.) Apparently, Prescott has a bum problem, as you need a token from one of the building's businesses to access the toilet. :roll:

    We actually hit the Glen Oaks trailhead at about 0830. We hiked down to the Alliance Mining claim, then along the US 89 shoulder, to FR 710 -- the road down to the Climax Mine. Paul knows many local prospector's, mine claimants, and several other local residents, and also a lot about minerals. 8) Unfortunately, I did not retain all the interesting info -- other than which claim ( ) Alliance Mining owns, and which hole in the ground ( ) is the Catoctin MIne.

    Just before the Catoctin Mine, we turned up the wash I had skipped last week ( ). Since then, I had carefully perused MapDex satellite view, identifying an obvious trail ( ) through the grab & stabs (as I now call the abundant manzanita, cat claw, and various other prickly vegetation). The best that can be said about the route is that it appeared obvious. :doh: It was not, and neither was it un-stabby. :stretch: We'd stop & start, go one way, find it blocked off by grab & stabs, try another way, find it blocked, give up and beat bush, repeat many times. By the time we reached the bottom of our unnamed target canyon, my shins were bleeding through my pants. (Granted, not heavily, but still ...)

    Travelling back up the canyon, towards some claims/mines I wanted to check out was slow, but not nearly as painful. Some places we cruised, others we had to dodge grab & stabs, and others required climbing small boulders. No big deal. Eventually we reached a mine I had targetted -- and which we were able to spot from the one open spot on the spur we'd previously descended. Paul had hiked this area many times, and passed by on the jeep trail mere yards away, but never had noticed the mine. It did not look safe to explore, so after I took some photos, we headed back towards the trailhead.

    After the hike, I drove north a few miles to Trail 260, dropping Paul off for a hike up Mt. Francis, where he planned to meet his family for a post-hike hike. :worthy:
    Climax Mine Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Did the first of several planned loops of mines northeast of Wilhoit. Started at 0800 from the large black gravel Glen Oaks pullout. The first .4 miles of the jeep trail were city car accessible; after that 4WD is required. My wife tagged along with me for the first .6, to a small saddle near the first mine/claim of the day. The jeep trail turns west, back to US 89, at that point, and the next quarter mile or so east is iffy even for 4WD before it peters out into dense scrub.

    After splitting up, I checked out the claim, crossed the rutted end of the jeep trail, and began up another small saddle. It took me 45 minutes to travel 150 AEG and a quarter mile, across that saddle to the next jeep trail, that's how dense the scrub was. I got scratches in the usual places -- hands and shins (despite wearing long sleeves and full length pants) -- *plus* on my stomach, as the pricklers and gotchas kept pulling my shirt open. :stretch: Really, x-country travel is simply not practical in this area, as all the surrounding ridges and mountains are similarly festooned with pain. Foot trail, goat trail, jeep trail, or wash walking highly recommended.

    A quarter mile down FR 710, I had planned on turning up a gully to a mine on top of the adjacent ridge. When I got there, I saw more brush, said pumpkin that, and continued. The first real mine I found ( lat 34.427927 , long -112.534457 ), had several concrete pads, a grinder/mixer, a trash covered vertical shaft, and a well-hidden horizontal shaft. The opening was only 1 x 3 feet, so I settled for sticking my camera, instead of myself, in for a photo.

    After passing another fenced, but open, vertical shaft, I arrived at the Hassayampa River. It had pooled water, but no flow. Despite the lack of flow, the water did not look too bad. Heading south on an increasingly rocky jeep trail to Climax Mine, there were several river crossings, which at current levels could be done dry. I passed a collapsed, abandoned, red shack along the way.

    There are two apparent levels to Climax Mine: What I cleverly refer to as the "upper mine" and "lower mine". The upper mine is a 300 foot climb up from the river. When I got to the top of the trail, on a small plateau at the mouth of a small canyon, I thought the mine itself was up a hundred foot rock slide. No way I was climbing that. Then I realized where the upper mine entrance really was. The opening was small, but after peering inside, I decided it was safe to crawl in. Once inside, I could stand up full height, no problem. Natural light extended maybe 50 feet in. Of course that is when my flashlight decided to crap out. :roll: There was a lot of trash on the floor of the mine, which made for careful stepping lest I fall in a hidden vertical shaft. There were two tunnels, one left, one right. After looking around for a bit, I crawled out, then walked down to the lower mine.

    There is a popup trailer in front of the lower mine. I called out, but got no response, so started looking around. A PVC pipe was actively draining water out of the doored entrance. I tried, but failed, to open the door. It was not locked, that I could tell; probably just jammed. I settled for shooting a few photos through the cracks. (The junk in the photos is not as faded, so I imagine the lower mine has seen more recent activity than its upper sibling.) There is a processing area about 30 feet below the popup, which I spent a couple more minutes checking out.

    I headed back up river, passing by FR 710. North of FR 710, the jeep trail disappears to be replaced by a definite, if not well worn, goat trail -- a couple hundred yards up which I found a dirt bike's fender. As I neared the wash, which I expected to take west back to Glen Oaks, I spotted several "private property" signs. I was on the west side of the river, and saw claim markers on the east side. Assuming the signs referred to the claims, I continued up the west side. I soon found another shack, in somewhat decent state. I called out several times. Getting no response, I started around the shack to see what was in back, up wash. That's when I found out the shack was not abandoned. :o A grey-haired, bearded, pony-tailed, weather-worn fellow made his presence known. "R.T." turned out to be a nice fellow :) , telling me he prospected in there several weeks at a time, and that his property came to a point just south of the shack. (You can see his claim outlined on MapDex's FS Topo, but not the Cal Topo or MyTopo, at lat 34.423524 , long -112.526176 .) He told me going up wash was not a good idea, and I was not inclined to argue, and he escorted me to a nearby jeep trail, even being so kind as to offer me water for my trip. :)

    The climb up from the not-abandoned cabin was up a series of steep switchbacks. I kinda knew in general where I was, from having researched the other mine loops, but when I got to the open area at the top of the ridge, I was not sure whether to turn left or right. I went left, but the jeep trail quickly petered out. So, I went right. The jeep trail immediately started a steep descent back to the Hassayampa River. I really did not want to repeat that climb, but after much GPS consulting, I decided any re-gain would be very gradual. At the bottom, the jeep trail again split; I again went left, and this time it went all the way back to US 89. I was going up Copper Creek -- a very narrow, shady and peaceful canyon -- but thought I was going up Little Copper Creek (which would have been the right turn), so I kept expecting to find the compound / community that is along Little Copper Creek. The Copper Creek jeep trail is really nice, and car-drivable until you get near the highway -- which is like the opposite of most jeep trails. :-s Lots of large pine trees, some so big I could not get my arms around them. Great camping spots all along. Saw a satellite dish that appeared to be connected only to a pine tree. Found several more (actually) abandoned / destroyed cabins.

    As I approached the Banksy-less, graffiti strewn tunnel under US 89, I was shooting video. I heard a scurry in the brush to my right. Figuring it was a lizard, I turned to look and ... :o :pk: ... it was a skunk, tail up, with a black hole so large it seemed it could swallow Saturn. It smelled, so I was wondering if I got sprayed, but it must have just been his wonderful aura, as it was not overwhelming. The tunnel itself was big enough for a side-by-side ATV; anything larger would be a tight squeeze.

    A hundred yards later, my hike was done.


    Most of the hike, even on US 89, is 1-bar or no reception. Noted exceptions are the grassy claim by Hill 5621 (2 bars) and the top of the switchback above R.T.'s cabin (2+ bars).

    I need to go up there and do this hike again, with some variations, before I turn it into an official description. In the meantime, enjoy my video: . :D

    Permit $$

    Prescott Forest
    Prescott National Forest Pass

    Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    The hike starts at the large, black gravel, pullout in Glen Oaks, three miles north of Wilhoit on Hwy 89. Personally, when I drive up there from Phoenix, I drive through Wickenburg and Yarnell, as there is less traffic, rather than fight the 35-mph-in-the-fast-lane traffic through Black Canyon, and the traffic jam into Prescott on Hwy 69.
    page created by kingsnake on Nov 24 2013 10:32 am
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