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Saddle Mountain Easy Mines, AZ

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Guide 25 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
Rated
4
4 of 5 by 4
 
3
Statistics
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,920 feet
Elevation Gain 900 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,400 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.6
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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7  2015-11-14
Saddle Mtn / Peeley Loop
Tough_Boots
20  2015-04-12
Saddle - Thicket - West Fork - Cornucopia
mazatzal
50  2013-11-30 evanshiker
30  2012-04-18 JuanJaimeiii
45  2012-03-24
Saddle Mountain Mine Tour
CannondaleKid
5  2011-03-20
LSM to Sunflower Mine
Tough_Boots
10  2010-11-20
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
Randal_Schulhaus
14  2010-10-31
LSM to Sunflower Mine
Tough_Boots
Page 1,  2
Author gpsjoe
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 123
Photos 2,810
Trips 140 map ( 1,516 miles )
Age 77 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, May, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
 
2 Alternative
 
Water
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Mines, mines and now yours!
by gpsjoe

This is the easy mine tour that should be doable by just about everyone. In about 7.6 miles round trip with 1,400 feet of accumulated elevation, you get to see 4 mines, the impressive Sunflower processing facility and associated water tanks and other mine equipment. This is all done in the beautiful background of the Mazatzal Mountains which will let you know you have left the desert for a day. All 4 of the mines you will see on this tour are legitimate horizontal tunnels that have not been covered up in any way. The Sunflower mine is the largest and the only one with an "L" shape having a corridor going off to the right at the visible back wall. You enter these mines at your own risk since there is always a fear walls can collapse. I personally went in 3 of them, the bowing of the front entrance to the bonus mine (my name for it) scared me away from that one.


The hike begins at the Mormon Grove trailhead and proceeds on the Saddle Mountain trail for 1.35 miles to an unmarked intersection which was once a dirt road (shown on the USGS 24K map, Lion Mountain topoquad at N 33 56.926 W111 30.654). We go right (east) on the road which is rocky for 100 yards after which the road/trail becomes clear and easy to hike. Following the road you come upon the only downed tree that you must hike around going right around the root. Drop back down and in a very short distance in the wash you come to what I call the "bonus mine" that I chose not to enter because of the bowing of the front entrance. There are remains of a stone structure with large pipes nearby. Continue on the road about 500 feet to a road going off to the right and turn on it. A good dirt road continues straight there and I hiked it to its end points and can assure you there is nothing much there. After going right you are in for some great views of the Mazatzals and eventually the Sunflower processing facility will come into plain view. As you reach the bottom of the road you will see a large tank and the Sunflower mine is behind it. I did go in there and it was filled with flies that buzzed me but didn't find me tasty. It's your choice of what to do first here: hike right and go to the processing facility or left and go up the canyon a short distance to two more mines. The first mine is on the way with a nearby tank and the second after a short distance and a U turn going up the hill to the mine. After visiting all the features of this hike simply retrace your route and hike back to the trailhead.

If you are up for a longer hike you can hike out FR25A along the West Fork which is a nice flowing creek that I like hiking by. You can turn back whenever you want. And if you are up for a really long loop you can continue along the creek about 1/2 miles past the wrecked Ford Step Van there to the intersection of the Cornucopia and West Fork (260) trails. The sign only shows the Cornucopia trail but you will notice a trail going off to your left and uphill. That is the West Fork trail going about a mile and 800 feet of elevation to the intersection with the Thicket Springs trail. The West Fork trail is overgrown in several places and will require some bushwhacking. The sign does show both the Thicket Springs and West Fork trails but the mileage figures are lies. Its 1.15 miles to the Sheep Creek trail not 1/2 miles. And the West Fork trail is 1+ miles. Turn left here and hike to Sheep Creek trail intersection where you will find mine 5 for the day 100 feet before the trail intersection. Turn left on Sheep Creek and hike to its intersection with the Saddle Mountain trial. Then turn right on the Saddle Mountain trail and hike 3.4 miles to the trailhead. The Thicket Springs, Sheep Creek and Saddle Mountain trails are part of the Arizona Trail. This loop is about 13 mile and would be rated strenuous.

Note: Compared to the Saddle Mountain Mine Tour this hike does not go to the Story Mine which has caved in long ago and is not visible anyway. It also does not go by the ruins of a Stone House. But it does eliminate the need for a difficult hike past the Stone House through a rugged canyon in which there is much bushwhacking. Some good hikers have turned around without completing this section. Others have completed it but would not do it again and I have joined this group. It was beautiful and rugged but really tough. The easy version does add the bonus mine which is not on the other hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-02-08 gpsjoe
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    guide related
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
Saddle Mountain Easy Mines
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Saddle Mtn / Peeley Loop
Loop hike with Kyle & Claire. We headed for the Peeley Trailhead and saw Hank and the rest of the HAZ crew who were remembering GPS Joe. We also saw FOTG and the dogs. We took our lunch and then returned to our trailhead passing the Sunflower Mine. Along the creek we saw a large pack of Coatimundi.
Saddle Mountain Easy Mines
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Had to hike in from FR25A, too rough a road to make in the truck we were in. On the way in, we saw a vehicle had just his one of the rocks in the road earlier that morning, punctured their oil pan, and there was a line of oil down the road for quite a ways. Don't know how they managed to get out, but they must have!

Made it to Sunflower Mine, and discovered a few other little mines along the way. Found nine in all in the immediate vicinity around the Sunflower processing plant, and explored them all. We cautiously navigated them all, most didn't go in very far, but one WNW of the processing site went in a good ways, as well as up and down. The downshaft must have been nearly 100 feet.

Didn't do the whole route, the guy I was with wasn't up to it. Did take a dip in West Fork/Sycamore Creek, though. That was some wicked cold water! Waded into my knees and just couldn't manage to get myself to go any further. :o

Last time I was at the processing plant I noticed a circuit board out there next to a busted up toilet. Today I figured out that it came out of a busted up television set. Since I was down there in December, somebody put a plastic skeleton in the bathtub that sits in the creek next to the plant...too funny, will post the picture.
Saddle Mountain Easy Mines
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Really fun hike. Started out at the Cross F TH, taking the 344 to the Little Saddle Mountain Trail #244. At the intersection with the 91 I took the Saddle Mountain via Mormon Grove trail to the turnoff to the mines. Turnoff to the mines isn't marked of course, but if you know where to look for the trail (GPS!) it's pretty easy to find.

While going up the Little Saddle Mountain trail, there were cows EVERYWHERE, and because the terrain was a little rough off the trail, I basically had a dozen or more cows running from me up the trail almost the entire way. I finally lost them just before the 91.

The mines were really cool to see, I saw 5 mine shafts in all and the processing plant. I didn't go into any of the shafts, however...alone, no one around, NOT a good idea ;) The one spot where it is reported that there are two mines I actually found 3 mine shafts. I did a little more exploring in the area, looking for other shafts, but didn't find any. With all these mines, I'm curious now, I've got to find some reading on the history of the mines in that area.

Outside of seeing a couple of cars at the abandoned processing plant, the only other person I saw all day out there was a hunter on the way back. As I turned on to Little Saddle Mountain, a hunter shot a grey fox just in front of me. I was maybe 200 yards away. It wasn't an adult fox, was still fairly young.

A bit muddy out there, there was some buildup on the shoes to scrape off...but nothing compared to Bob and my trip out to the area earlier this year!! Some ice about 5000 ft, mostly frozen mud puddles...but not really any snow.

Early on I saw a pretty interesting cactus, I'm posting it with my pictures from the mines. There was a little water running in Cat Spring and the spring just north of it, which was a welcome sight after the months of no rain!

Yeah...I made my year's goal of 400 with this one! Not bad for a husband and dad of 2, working a 50-hour+ job!!! :y:
Saddle Mountain Easy Mines
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Sunflower/Sunnyside Mine Complex-
"The Sunflower Mine was discovered in 1911 by E.H. Bowman. Bowman intending to find gold instead discovered a rich vein of cinnabar. Cinnabar, an ore of mercury, was used in the amalgation of gold and was an essential part of gold mining. The mine was later purchased by the Sunflower Mining Company. A large processing facility was built onsite to break down the ore into mercury whereby it was shipped by wagon and eventually truck. The workings consist of impressively sized open cuts, tunnels and underground stoping. From 1913 to 1965, an estimated 3,973 flasks of mercury were produced and 2,140 pounds of copper. Also very notable was 764 ounces of gold and 1,095 ounces of silver."

Ever since GPSjoe discovered the "shortcut" route from the Morman Grove TH to access this historic piece of old Arizona mining history, I knew I would soon be going back for another visit. Not only is this hike (which goes in & out of the Mazatzal Wilderness Boundary) very scenic, but now with this new, shorter way to access this most interesting Sunflower & Sunnyside Mining Complex (with 11 different mine audits and the complex mercury processing facility), this new GPSjoe hike description adds a whole new level of enjoyment for us hiking/history buffs!

Also, now with a majority of these 11 mine audits having been recently explored (YR'06-07) in a detailed pictorial(with captions) by the professional mining organization/website "ironminers.com" (see GPSjoe's 2/18/09 trip log for details), we can now visit these mines in person having previously viewed the complex undergrown structures via this website. Visiting in person all these different "mine audits" in the side of a hill takes on a whole different perspective after first having viewed the inner construction online.

For my return visit this day I found it necessary to download GPSjoe's posted GPS routes for all these mines, especially helpful in locating the two (lower & upper) Sunnyside Claim mines.. for which this "upper" Sunnyside mine you can claim as a real victory IF you are successful in finding it! It was a lot of fun trying to locate it which I was finally successful in doing by following the downloaded GPS route on my 30ft screen.

Today I located 9 of 11 total mine audits that GPSjoe has listed (Ref: GPSjoe's 2/22/09 pic set, pic maps #26 & #27). I somehow missed the two- lower & upper UNKNOWN MINES. A good reason for another visit! :)

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Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
High Clearance possible when dry

To Mormon Grove Trailhead
Driving from Phoenix, take the Beeline Highway (87) North toward Payson. Take the Sycamore Creek exit (just past mile marker 222), turning left across the divided highway and down the paved road 'Old Highway 87' for 1.2 miles to FR201.

Turn right over the cattle guard onto the gravel road (FR201) and proceed 1.2 miles to cross another cattle guard just before a split in the road at FR25. Take the sharp left turn downhill (FR25) and proceed 2.6 miles to a Y in the road. Stay left again and downhill on FR25 (the right leg takes you onto FR25A). Proceed uphill for 2.2 miles (switchbacks) to the Mormon Grove Trailhead.

Both FR201 and FR25 are gravel roads - FR25 is slow/rough- loose & hard packed rock, steeper climb up/down than FR201.

The Mormon Grove Trailhead is not signed but is obvious since it is where FR25 ends at an old wooden corral.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 66.6 mi - about 1 hour 21 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 164 mi - about 2 hours 42 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 145 mi - about 3 hours 10 mins
page created by gpsjoe on Feb 08 2009 7:50 pm
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