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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70, AZ

no permit
91 12 3
Guide 12 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Oracle
4.2 of 5 by 5
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 70 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,450 feet
Avg Time One Way 9 hrs 4x4
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes - past 6 Miles
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
22  2014-03-16
Oak Grove Canyon
46  2012-04-28 Pivo
20  2009-05-17
Virgus Canyon (Upper) - via Rug Road
12  2009-05-17
Parsons Grove & Canyon via Rug Road
11  2009-05-17 ssk44
34  2009-05-16 Grasshopper
Author Grasshopper
author avatar Guides 42
Routes 458
Photos 8,104
Trips 508 map ( 5,318 miles )
Age 74 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:19pm
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
.. Truly an Arizona Legend ..
by Grasshopper

Likely In-Season!
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.

Special Notice
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:
TH Start at Mammoth, AZ (Hwy 77/Copper Creek Rd)N32 43.215W110 38.642
Start of The Rug RoadN32 45 027W110 31.097
Start of Carpet Hill (going downhill)N32 47.060W110 30.023
Trip High Point at Table Mtn Saddle-Galiuro DivideN32 48.568W110 30.274
Primary Campsite off Rug Road at Upper Virgus Cyn areaN32 49.166W110 28.979
Rug Road route on & above Oak Grove Cyn#5019
where it enters Turkey Creek Canyon at BLM Route#5018
N32 52.017W110 25.878
Turkey Creek Canyon at Aravaipa Canyon#5018N32 53.790W110 26.602
Aravaipa Canyon#5018 at Klondyke StoreN32 50.192W110 19.954
Klondyke Store to Hwy 70 TH EndN32 56.842W109 54.716

Check out the 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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your 4x4 trip to support this local community.

2009-05-23 Grasshopper
    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
    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
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    After our aborted trip when I had the Samurai back in 2012 when Tracey said in no uncertain terms she wouldn't be caught dead on Rug Road, it pretty much put a damper on taking another stab at it, since it was one place I really didn't want to do completely solo.
    But after JJ prodded me with a "when are we going to do another 4x4/hiking trip" I figured JJ wouldn't be a-feared'a no Carpet Hill (think Red-Neck language) so Rug Road would be the perfect trip... and from such thoughts are plans born. With a false start two weeks ago, the day before Thanksgiving would be the do-or-die-trying trip... Should we run into any trouble, we had a tent and sleeping bags to make it into an over-night if needed.

    I picked up JJ in AJ at 5 am, planning on reaching Carpet Hill after sunrise as I didn't want to be in the dark first time all the way through. The group of white-tails we saw shortly before Carpet Hill would be the only wildlife for the whole day, hikes included.
    It took slightly longer than I remembered to reach Carpet Hill, but once heading down, I wondered, was this actually Carpet Hill? All I remember was 3 & 4-foot boulders strewn all along the center of the road down the hill, which had proved to be a bit too much to safely pass with the Samurai. But what did we see? Not a single boulder in the road, just the series of bare rock steps near the bottom which were mere child's-play for the Cherokee. Still, it was slow going, averaging lowly 7.6 mph from Mammoth to the TH in Virgus Canyon.

    After our figure-8 loop hike we hit the road heading east, hoping to find the going easier, or at least not so rough.
    Ha! Fat chance of that happening! This part of the trip was by far the roughest and thus slowest part of the drive, averaging a lowly 5.3 mph from Parson's Grove to Aravaipa Road. A number of times we took what appeared to be a bypass around a real bad spot, only to find the bypass worse than the drop-off, deep hole or boulder we were avoiding. Yet with all the bad-stuff we encountered the whole trip, only once did a rock kick up and hit the rock-slider bar on the driver side. Other than that, at no time did anything contact any part of the Cherokee.
    I'm feeling the down-side to that fact today... holding my left foot hard on the brake for probably well over 2 hours while the Jeep literally crawled over/around obstacles has left me with a royal pain in the arthritic hip.

    But back to the drive...
    Once we hit Aravaipa Road things went at a faster pace.. until we turned onto Klondike Road heading east to Hwy 70, when we hit rocket speed... topping 75 more than a few times on the dirt road.
    That managed to boost our overall average for the 52 miles from from Parson's Grove to the 70 to a whopping 12.96 mph. (Thank goodness it's not an unlucky 13!) Yes, averaging 60 mph on Klondike Road had a lot to do with that.
    But overall, a fun time that just whetted my appetite for a series of return trips, albeit maybe not all the way through each time.
    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
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    Rolling into Safford on Sunday morning, I picked up Chad and we were soon off on the long drive to the eastern end of Aravaipa. Driving past the Aravaipa trailhead into Turkey Canyon offered a brief glimpse of the beauty that lay in store for us the next day. We parked near the Turkey Creek cliff dwelling and set off on foot on the road. The road hike ended soon and we were boulder hopping up Oak Grove Canyon below massive cliffs of buff colored conglomerate, well guarded by a continuous stand of cottonwoods and sycamores. Water and then a flowing stream gradually appeared as we moved slowly up the well shaded canyon, which included an unexpected bigtooth maple patch. Chad found some great photo ops, while I sloshed my way through the creek a bit farther to Jackson Spring and the two rock towers near point 3828'. We soon regrouped and made our way out of this sliver of paradise onto the dusty route of the Turkey Creek road once more. "Hey, let's check out the Rug Road", so we did, climbing out of the canyon up god-awful, undercarriage wrecking rock steps onto a pleasant, open ridge which offered a great view of the surrounding area. I managed to slip and fall on my ass, a victim of this savage, treacherous old road. Eventually we made it back to my truck, where we partook of the ice chest then made the short walk up to the cliff dwelling. Hiking back down, we set up camp nearby, next to an old corral in the creek bottom, and waited for darkness to arrive. Once it had, we returned to the cliff dwelling for some night photography experimentation. The evening was concluded with a colorful, roaring campfire, fire grilled quesadillas on fresh tortillas from the tortilleria in Willcox, birthday cake, and a pottery firing experiment. It had been a great day. The next day, Aravaipa awaited...
    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
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    Ran this from Klondkye to Mammoth. Other than finding a rear locker to actually be detrimental to staying alive in a few spots, it was fairly easy to tackle carpet hill... albeit slow going. Not ideal if you have an irrational fear of tipping over either. =)

    FJ Cruiser, 3in lift, 33in 285 MT tires, and minimal use of the skid plates.
    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
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    With both of us sharing a rare 2 days off in a row we planned a very ambitious schedule, hoping to drive all the way from Mesa to Mammoth and out Copper Creek/Rug Road the 18 miles or so to the Parson's Grove TH, do the Parson's Grove hike, scout out some of the mining roads on the drive back out to Mammoth, spending the night there. With the information gained during the day we'd amend the plans for Sunday's activities, which would be mine and ruin hunting.

    Well... best laid plans... at least we got off to a good start. At well under 2 hours we made great time from Mesa to Mammoth and the first 11+ miles out Copper Creek Rd & the early part of Rug Road passed in under an hour even through so rough and rocky terrain, but once on Carpet Hill things slowed to a crawl, literally.

    Within a mile or two of hitting Rug Road it quickly became serious 4x4 terrain if not rock-crawling terrain, which meant continuous and careful tire placement every foot of the way. It wasn't far before Tracey was voicing her concerns about how bad it was and how it had already exceeded her comfort level. That was par for the course because even I was at the edge of my comfort level. But since neither turning around nor backing up the hill was a possibility all there was to do was keep going. Probably 1/3 the way down the hill when we came to a spot where it was possible to turn around we stopped and I started walking down the hill to see what it was like farther down. It was not pretty at all... more of what we just passed through along with some areas so slick it took crawling on all fours at times to get back up.

    That's when we had to make the decision whether to continue on or make a running change in our plans. Gauging the time it would require to get to the bottom of Carpet Hill, driving out to the TH, doing the hike then add the time it would require for the drive trip back up the hill it was an easy decision to head back up the hill and start our mine/ruin recon early. As usual, I found it much easier to drive back up the hill because I was seeing each obstacle from a second viewpoint.

    Once back onto Copper Creek Road we headed for a few areas where I had information mines that closed in the early 1900's along with some ruins. Turned out a but of a surprise because instead of possible early native ruins that we hoped for they were from the mining era in the late 1800's to early 1900's. But no matter, we met a group of folks who just happened to have plans to hike to one of the spots I had marked a waypoint for. And so we joined them.

    After the hike we drove out a different route along some of the ancient mining roads in the area. We had been told by the folks in the group we hiked with that new mining patents had just been issued and much of the area would be closed to the public very soon so we were on the lookout for anything of interest while we were here. Unfortunately, without detailed maps of the old mining roads or knowing how many of them were still passable, we stuck to what appeared to be main roads on our way back to Mammoth.

    Before turning in for the evening we took a drive into Oracle for a great pizza at Mama Nonna's Pizzeria, taking a long roundabout drive south through San Manuela, across the San Pedro River and back to Mammoth via the dirt River Rd. Although we had more information to prepare for the next day, so much was iffy that we would take a completely different tack on Sunday.
    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
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    (Rug Road, 05/17/2009)

    Truly an epic four-wheel drive adventure into one of the most remote and unique areas of the state. This was my sixth trip along this route and most definitely not my last. This area has so much to offer for those that live for remote backcountry exploration. The northwest Galiuro Mountains have truly captured my heart. I really do love this area.

    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
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    On our 2nt/3day (5/16-18/09) seventy mile road trip on the legendary "Rug Road" Eric & I had one full day to do a couple of seperate day trips from our primary campsite which served as the TH Start for this days' activities. On this Sun-5/17, our second day outing was via a 4x4 trip in my "Grasshopper" to Parsons Canyon.

    This popular side trip which the "Rug Road" crosses at Parsons Grove/Canyon & Cabin offers a look back in time at old Arizona 19th century remote ranching & corral building history. After viewing Parsons Grove & Cabin area, this side trip continues for 2.25 miles on an old two track route up Parsons Canyon (see posted GPS Route) past the old Don Jose Corrals to end at the small, scenic setting, & historic Don Jose Cabin with its unique corrals;
    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    On our 2nt/3day (5/16-18/09) seventy mile road trip on the legendary "Rug Road" Eric & I had one full day to do a couple of seperate day trips from our primary campsite which served as the TH Start for this days' activities. On this Sun-5/17, we first hiked down Upper Virgus Canyon.

    This lush, reparian, and remote canyon which the "Rug Road" crosses, offers a great location for a backpack campsite (only 1 mile hike in) and/or a remote off-trail canyon dayhike. This canyon has a seasonal creek with large sycamore trees, a historic cabin- Virgus Cabin & Corrals, and also has a perennial spring (Bleak Spring) which is located only 100 yards behind the old Virgus Cabin.

    We much enjoyed viewing all the Virgus homestead history as my pic set attempts to show and also the serious geology that took place in this scenic canyon. We had plans to hike another mile down canyon, but the sometimes thick overgrowth in this riparian canyon creek was just too time consuming as we had another day trip planned this day.

    Just FYI.. for those who are familiar with Aravaipa Canyon, approximately six miles further down Virgus Canyon from where our hike ended, is the intersection with a beautiful section of the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness/Perserve. A very popular backpack choice (admission by BLM-Safford office, permit only).
    Rug Road - Mammoth to Klondyke to Hwy 70
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    I had no idea that this legendary Arizona route even existed until this past January'09. Eric first brought this Rug Road to my attention then we discussed the possibility of me "gearing down a little" in my Grasshopper so the two of us could plan an extended 3-4 day backcountry 4x4, camping, and remote canyon hiking trip to explore this truly special 8) (located within the NW section of the Galiuro Mountains between Mammoth and Hwy70-west of Safford).

    It took me a month to ponder the possibility of an extended backcountry trip in my Jeep to fit another person in with gear, but being the true Virgo I am, and a strong desire to visit this legendary Rug Road area, we soon had the dates agreed-to and on our calendars!

    I have spent a considerable amount of enjoyable time since returning from this 2nt/3day trip, writing up a new HAZ hike description for this wonderful 70 mile "one way" route. I can only hope I have done it justice. Rather than detail so many highlights of this remote, scenic, and historical route in this trip log, I do hope some of you (4x4'ers, mountain bikers, backpackers, & remote day hikers) will find time to read my hike description and view my attached pic set(log) which will walk you through this amAZing 70 mile route.

    Now having done the entire 70 mile one way route from Mammoth to Hwy 70, when I return I would prefer to start in from the NE TH start off Hwy 70 and drive in this more scenic route, first through the east end of Aravaipa Canyon & Turkey Creek Canyon, then over the high Rug Road route by Oak Grove Canyon. I would reverse this route on the way out rather than 4x4ing to end at Mammoth,AZ. Also, Eric and I discovered that May in probably not the best month to visit this area due to higher daytime temps, bugs, and less running water to enjoy in all the seasonal and perennial springs and canyon creeks. Recommended best time to visit this area is:
    late Autumn to early Spring.

    Also, we did two seperate day trips (one hiking- Virgus Canyon/Cabin/Springs & one 4x4ing-Parsons Grove/Canyon to Don Jose Corrals & Cabin) on our one 5/17-full day in the area. I will soon be issuing short hike descriptions, GPS Routes, pics, and seperate trip logs for these too.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To 4x4 trip
    From the Phoenix area: Take Hwy 60E to Superior; From Superior take Hwy 177 south for 31.7mls to Winkelman (intersection of Hwy 77); Turn south on Hwy 77 and drive for an additional 20.7mls to Mammoth, AZ; (Note: It is recommended that you "top off" your gas tank at the Circle K on Hwy 77 in Mammoth); On Hwy 77 south, past this Circle K, turn east onto Copper Road (at waypoint N32 43.215 W110 38.642); Here begins this 70 mile one way epic trip with 17mls of slow, serious 4x4 off road; Note: It is also recommended that you download my two posted HAZ-GPS Routes which serve as the official 70 mile one way driving route from this TH START at Mammoth to TH END at the intersection of Hwy 70/Klondyke-Aravaipa Canyon Rd.(at waypoint N32 56.842 W109 54.716);

    FYI.. In Mammoth, above noted Copper Road (i.e., Copper Creek Road) crosses the San Pedro River drainage; When this San Pedro River is wet/high during seasonal river flow, the alternate access to connect with Copper Road is: Just before entering Mammoth, on Hwy 77 at approximately 1/2 mile north of the BRIDGE that crosses the San Pedro River, is a signed road- "River Road" (at waypoint N32 45.118 W110 38.777) heading southeast from Hwy 77; Take this River Road for approximately 2 miles to connect with Copper Road (turn left-east); Also, remember that it is recommended you "top off" your gas tank in Mammoth before starting in on Copper Road, so you should first continue south into Mammoth on Hwy 77 for gas, then backtrack north on Hwy 77 to this River Road alternate route;
    page created by Grasshopper on May 23 2009 8:57 pm
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