.. Truly an Arizona Legend ..
This legendary and very interesting 70 mile two track route traveling within 99% of BLM land in the northwest Galiuro Mountains has something to offer for most all outdoor enthusiasts: serious 4x4 off-roading, serious mountain biking, backpacking, primitive camping, remote canyon hiking, hunting, perennial springs, perennial & seasonal creeks, abundant wildlife, scenic Moab type driving to include a drive through lush, riparian Turkey Creek Canyon and the east end of Aravaipa Canyon Preserve, old Gold-Silver mine audits & equipment, interesting old ranching history(cabins/corrals), and even ancient Indian Ruins. The southwest TH start for this "all-in-one" trip begins at Mammoth, AZ(2450'), reaches a high point 15.25 miles in of 5385' at Table Mountain Saddle (the Galiuro Divide) and has its northeast TH end at Hwy 70/Klondyke-Aravaipa Canyon Road at 2824' (~6 miles west of Pima, AZ, and ~10mls west of Safford,AZ).
During the late 1870's when gold, silver mining and ranching were beginning to be a prominent means of income for many Arizona settlers in this Galiuro Mountains area between Mammoth and the tiny town of Klondyke, there was a need to establish a through route. As the crow flies it was only about a 20 mile distance between Mammoth and Klondyke, but actual driving routes between these two settlements without a through route was over 150 miles utilizing the existing highways, county, and ranch roads through Globe or Wilcox. The Rug Road, so named from the multi-colored patches of old carpet remnants that were embedded into one bad hill climb segment of this road at Boulder Saddle known as "Carpet Hill". History and rumor have it that this segment of the Rug Road was there to service the old Salazar Ranch. Back in the 1950's, Mister Salazar drove a conventional two wheel drive pick-up and had trouble negotiating the climb up & down what is now known as "Carpet Hill" (a .70 mile rutted, loose-rocky, gnarly, hill drop/climb of over 650+ feet). Salazar supposedly drove into Tucson one day and collected as many carpet remnants as he could and then deposited them on this bad hill. The idea was to slow down road erosion and to help prevent ruts from developing during rain downpours. It was also used to aid in traction going up and downhill. This act has so named this legendary old Arizona through route for eternity.."The Rug Road".
It has been said that "any road that is difficult enough for carpets needed to aid in traction must be bad". If you chose to drive this 70 mile through "Rug Road" route, it should be noted that if you are driving a short wheel base 4x4 vehicle as I was, for 17 miles of the total 70 mile trip, you will need, at a minimum: 32" tires and one full locker in the rear differential (Note: On a short wheel base 4x4, for more security and for safety reasons, I recommend 33" or larger tires, full lockers both front and back, and with aftermarket lower ring & pinion gearing). If you decide to drive this 70 mile through route from Mammoth to Hwy 70(west to east), it will easier to negotiate down "Carpet Hill" than traveling this same route from Hwy 70 to Mammoth(east to west) as it will be more difficult to climb up the "Carpet Hill" segment.. but by no means am I implying that this "Carpet Hill" segment is your only 4x4 driving challenge for this above mentioned 17 mile 4x4 section.
The Aravaipa Road (BLM Route#5018) north of the Klondyke Store, which provides through driving access for this 70 mile trip and the only public access into the east end of Aravaipa Canyon Preserve, "may" be closed passing through private property. Public access into Aravaipa Canyon(#5018), Turkey Creek Canyon(#5018), and further into Oak Grove Canyon(BLM#5019), Parson's Grove/Canyon(#5019) via this Rug Road route "may" be affected. As of this writing, I had no problems with any closures - I had no private gate road closures to deal with. Before your planned drive through trip, it is recommended you call the responsible BLM office in Safford at 928-348-4400 and just reference this issue and as about associated status of BLM Routes #5018 and #5019. Not recommended, you can also "risk it" as I did: Once you are on your way into this 70 mile route from Mammoth, when you see another person on the route ask them if they know the road open status at the other end. If they came in from Hwy 70 or Klondyke and you are traveling in that direction from Mammoth, more than likely the roads will be open for your exit through.. but best to stop them and ask!
I completed this 70 mile through trip in my modified short wheel base Jeep from Mammoth to Hwy 70 and camped for two nights 18 miles in at a lovely, shaded oak treed, primitive campsite (4503') at the Upper Virgus Canyon area, just off the Rug Road. As I previously mentioned, his Rug Road can and has been mountain biked by advanced level mountain bikers who generally prefer to start in at Mammoth and bike through the first long day to either Turkey Creek Canyon or to Klondyke to camp the night, then reverse route the next day back to Mammoth for Mexican Food. Also, the Rug Road can be planned as an extended backpack trip which would offer more time to enjoy the area with numerous primitive campsites to choose from, various seasonal & perennial springs & creeks with hopefully time to day hike some of the remote and rugged canyons and explore the numerous old ranch site history (cabins & corrals) that this Rug Road crosses (Sycamore Cyn, Upper Virgus Cyn, Parsons Cyn, Oak Grove Cyn, Turkey Creek Cyn, and if you have a permit- Aravaipa Canyon Preserve). I am posting with this hike description the official GPS Routes (2) for this 70 mile trip: The first GPS Route starts in at Mammoth and goes 18 miles in to my above referenced campsite (+2965' & AEG of +4651'), the second GPS Route starts from this campsite and goes the additional 52 miles ending at Hwy 70 (-1755' & AEG of +3813').
Key reference GPS waypoints for this 70 mile one way route are:
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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.
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.
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