The Hunt for Purple April
Route: Lone Pine Trailhead - 1.5 miles on Brown's Trail 133 to Amethyst Trail 235, 1.2 miles to private property gate at the mine
Summary: This trail doesn't cater to destination enthusiast. However, being one of maybe three short hikes in the wilderness it does get used regularly. The views, though distant, are pretty good. So... from the trailhead head up Brown's Trail #133. Forget the forest-service-sign stating it's 1 mile to Amethyst Trail & identically 1 mile to Brown's Saddle. This is very incorrect. I say "very" because even a direct line from the trailhead to the saddle is at least 1.25 miles.
Follow trail #133 to Brown's Saddle just as mentioned in the Brown's Peak Hike. The final push up to Brown's Saddle is technically on the Amethyst Trail. In reality the true origin of the Amethyst Trail is off of the Four Peaks Trail. The junction isn't marked and has changed slightly since the fire of 1996. It really doesn't matter, as you won't stray off course. At Brown's Saddle continue on the Amethyst Trail. Just over the saddle it's brushy but soon opens up. The trail is easy to follow to the mine with one exception. An approximately 100 foot drop is encountered along the way. It's steep and loose. There are a couple "on the edge" sections but nothing extreme.
A few patches of pines survived the '96 blaze. Although short lived, you get really nice moments of pines against the steep rise. Once again the views are pretty good, but you probably won't be itchin' to get back soon. When the trail eases to a wide ledge the end is near. A short distance around the turn and you come to a gate. It's welded, radiator hose clamped, cemented, chained, and barbed wired to keep intruders out. Can you get around it? Yes, and pretty easy, but it's still private property. As dad says, locks keep honest people honest. If you haven't figured it out, this is your turn around point.
History: The mine itself, known as the Four Peaks Lode, dates back to the 18th century. The difficult terrain has presented access issues since the vein was first discovered. Present day access is by helicopter. The 20 acre parcel is completely surrounded by the Four Peaks Wilderness. The mine has changed ownership many times in the past century alone. It's been an on & off operation. Operations would cease altogether if it wasn't for one thing. This vein of manganese tinted quartz is among the best quality in the world! No kidding!
Check out the Official Route and 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.
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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