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Fairbank Loop Trail, AZ

Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
  2.5 of 5 
no permit
38 7 0
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Distance Loop 4.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,870 feet
Elevation Gain 47 feet
Accumulated Gain 92 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.91
Interest Ruins, Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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7  2021-04-09
Fairbank Ghost Town
9  2021-04-04
24  2019-04-30
Fairbank ghost town loop
12  2017-06-02 RedRoxx44
9  2015-03-08 AZLOT69
17  2012-06-17
Author markthurman53
author avatar Guides 187
Routes 718
Photos 8,001
Trips 542 map ( 4,954 miles )
Age 68 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr → Any
Seasons   Late Winter to Late Spring
Sun  5:34am - 7:20pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Hike Back in Time
by markthurman53

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Fairbank, Arizona, is now a ghost town. It wasn’t always like that. Founded in 1881 when the railroad came through there and continued until 1970, when the last residents left, along with the Post Office(est. 1883) closing. Fairbank is located on the San Pedro River and was the Grand Central Mill site that processed the ore from Tombstone. There is quite a bit of history here, including a train robbery and Wyatt Earp getting on the train here in 1882 on his way to Los Angeles. Wyatt was with his brother Virgil with the body of his other brother Morgan who was killed at the OK corral.

This area is open to the public, with some of the buildings being open for viewing (when I was there, the buildings were closed). The loop trail heads out on the West side of town and follows along the San Pedro River's east bank to Willow Wash, where it loops back to Fairbank just below the hills to the east of the river. Some of the sites along the way are the train bridge over the River built in 1927 and now abandon, the old Grand Central Mill ruins, and the town cemetery. If you are looking for a short hike while in the area, this is a must stop, assuming you aren’t here in the summer.

This guide is for a CCW loop starting on the north side of the parking area. This loop can also be started on the north side of the town of Fairbank. No need for any route-finding skills on this hike. The trail is well marked and appears to be heavily used, although when I visited the area, no one was to be seen(except the groundskeeper), truly a ghost town. The trail follows along the east side of the San Pedro flood plain just below the desert hills to the east. This trail is located in the strange boundary between the desert on the hills to the east and the riparian area. The riparian area in the floodplain is mainly large mesquite trees.

At about 0.5 miles in is the signed junction for the Town Cemetery, well worth the 0.3-mile round trip. This cemetery is up on a hill above the riparian zone. The cemetery is in bad shape, and vandals or time has done its damage. Back on the loop trail again, it is 1 mile to the Ruins of the Grand Central Mill. Only the rock wall along the hill behind it remains. From the photo on a sign along the trail, it was quite a building. A short distance later is an open mine shaft with a fence around it. It is possible to see a little bit down into the shaft from the south side without crossing the fence. Further down the trail, a couple hundred feet are the remains of another structure probably related to the Mill. Continuing down the trail another 0.5 miles, there is another signed junction. 0.6 miles to Presidio Santa Cruz De Terrenate and 2 miles to Contention City and Mill. I did not go all the way to the Presidio, but I did take the trail down to the San Pedro and across to the site of a dam probably also used in conjunction with the mill.

Continuing on the main trail, it turns to the south and follows along the San Pedro River's upper banks. The river is lined with huge Cottonwood trees. There are great views of the river from about 20 feet above it. At 1.4 miles from the signed junction is where the railroad bridge crosses the San Pedro River. Climb up the berm and go across the bridge, very neat. After the bridge, it is 0.6 miles to the platform where the train depot was, and Highway 82 is looming overhead. It is now just 100 yards or so to the town of Fairbanks.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2019-05-01 markthurman53

    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Fairbank Loop trailhead; Highway 90 south toward Sierra Vista. At the town of Whetstone take Highway 82 east for about 10 miles to the San Pedro River. After crossing the bridge Fairbank is on the north side.
    page created by AZLOT69 on May 01 2019 5:00 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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