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Get Your Kicks Above Route 66
Lt. Edward Beale, an officer in the U.S Army Topographical Corps, was given orders in the 1850 s to survey a route coast to coast for a government-funded wagon road along the 35th parallel. Lt Beale traveled through the present-day Kingman area in 1857, and the wagon road was built in 1859. Interestingly enough is the fact that he used camels as pack animals. This test was to determine the animals' suitability for military use in the desert. When the troops were called east due to the Civil War, the idea was abandoned. Gold and silver were discovered in the area after the civil war and caused a surge in the population. Kingman, Arizona was founded in 1882 and named after Lewis Kingman who surveyed the Atlantic and Pacific right of way for the railroad. Kingman's ultimate survival heavily depended on this ever-important corridor of the railroad, Route 66, which followed much of the original wagon road, and later Interstate 40, which replaced Route 66 and U.S. Highway 93 for those headed for Las Vegas. Kingman is on the longest uninterrupted stretch of Route 66 that remains, which attracts many history buffs.
Kingman lies between the Cerbat and Hualapai mountain ranges. Central to Kingman is the Stockton Hills. The Stockton Hills were home to many silver mines in the 1880s, and this entire area has been preserved as a park. Central to the park's interest is the deeply rutted wagon trails present from the heavily laden ore wagons headed out of the hills for the smelter. The surrounding white cliffs of Stockton Hills offer total isolation from the city.
Starting from the paved parking lot, the trail crosses a pedestrian bridge over an often dry wash. The mountain in front of you shows the signs of centuries of wind caused erosion. In just a few hundred yards, the remains of an old stone structure are on your right. The trail starts its climb now, and evidence of the wagon trail is obvious. Deep ruts are accompanied by holes on either side of the trail in a regular pattern. These holes were used to support oar-type tools to brake and slow the heavy ore wagons coming down these hills. The trail is as wide as a wagon road, although nature is making a comeback. There are also some places where rock slides have made for a short scramble but nothing difficult. Once at the top of the initial climb, there is no sign of civilization, and there are peaks offering lovely views in all directions.
There are old mining roads to many of these peaks, and any one of them will offer a nice workout as well as good views. The canyon to the southeast is interesting. It opens to a valley with there are three peaks ahead. I chose the middle one as the peaks on either side have radio towers on them. Once on top, you overlook the old downtown Kingman. Route 66 winds through town and has several grain bins insight. The railroad, which runs alongside Route 66, has continuous trains, blowing their whistles at every interchange. The Hualapai mountains lie in the distance. Continue this lasso loop towards the southeast to a natural break in the cliff and head down towards the north and the wash below lined with green plants. Follow this wash back towards the northwest to rejoin your route in the canyon you approached from and return to the trailhead.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.