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Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail, AZ

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340 46 4
Guide 46 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.4 of 5 by 15
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,700 feet
Elevation Gain 655 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.68
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2018-11-25 adv_trev
21  2018-07-18
Amethyst from Lone Pine
8  2017-04-22 TeamBillyGoat
32  2016-04-09 Nightstalker
10  2015-11-01 hikingaz2
9  2015-05-25
Four Peaks Mother Lode
11  2014-11-15
Four Peaks Mother Lode
16  2014-11-15
Four Peaks Mother Lode
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,259 map ( 21,438 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
The Hunt for Purple April
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
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.

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

2003-04-12 joebartels
    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 of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    Time to hit the Amethyst Mine, sure glad we did, vista's are amazing, looking down on Saguaro Lake and Burro Cove which we had just done previously was awesome. Trail was well defined,(came upon some bear fresh scat so we were extra cautious) got to the mine gate took some pictures and had lunch and returned. I would go to this area more if it wasn't such chore :-({|=
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    What a nice way to cap off an eventful Memorial weekend. My 5th trip log of the weekend would be the Mother Lode.

    I met a group on Brown's Peak and one of them asked if I had ever head of anyone doing all four peak, I said actually...
    The rest of the M.L. was complete solitude. I was a little slow, probably related to the routes I chose, but also a little fatigued for some reason. I could not make up my mind all day. I had two routes to use, my first route when I had no idea what I was doing, or my route with Karl that included some stuff I was not crazy about doing alone. I just did not have the usual zeal for climbing, so the majority of the day involved retreating across the bottom of the peaks. A safer route, but not good for time and I found myself in trouble a few times trying to scurry down, when I should have maintained my usual route across the ridges.

    I Had a legitimate fall coming down final peak. I was trying to get cute hopping across the rocks to avoid dropping down into the bush and had about a seven foot fall down a couple of quick ledges. No injuries, but it got my attention. I saw three Arizona Blacks, which only makes one laugh, just another thing to contend with when doing the M.L.
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    Just another Mother Lode, however, this time with company. A really good time, a couple of guys were making first time runs, and Karl was able to finish the hike that he tore his ACL on not quite a year ago I believe.

    I did the traditional 1-2-3-4 so it was a different experience for me as well. We did not really rush over the peaks and took some extended breaks at the summits, therefore, it was not as strenuous as my Mother Lode run in June. But I enjoyed this hike nearly as much, I was able to fool around with some new routes and was finally able to see portions of the route that I had missed on my first run.

    A little busy on the trail as we neared the trail head, some people camping there as well, most enjoyed a beer and we called it a day. The ride home was interesting to say the least, a little mad max mixed with the old western and a taste of Phoenix.
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    "wow that escalated quickly!"

    So Four Peaks was on my radar after reading JJ's recent trip log. That led to a causal conversation with John at Boulders on Sunday about why neither one of us have hit that high point, some how that escalated into me knocking out the Mother Lode!

    Nothing was really ideal about this Mother Lode trip either. I didn't even leave Boulders until 10, and it was not until about 11:30 p.m. that the idea of the Mother Lode even crossed my mind while searching for driving directions and a route up to Brown's Peak. I thought why not just download a route and play it by ear? But whose route? I knew well enough not to touch anything done by Dave 1, Joe, Bob P, or J.J. ;)

    I noticed that Chumley had taken Claire on his last Mother Lode trip so I figured that route was probably more in my wheel house and sadly more conducive to my skill set and conservative nature. After all, I would be going solo. Lets be real though, I upped the ante a tad bit on Chumley's route, found a few more "direct" approaches ;)

    Again nothing was ideal about the planning for this little hike, I jotted down on a 3" by 5" note card "4321 classic" "1234 hard" some driving directions on the back and the names of the peaks by number, that was the extent of my planning. However, to be honest at that point I was pretty much reserved to just finally knock out Brown's Peak.

    Even when morning hit I was still just committed to Browns Peak, slept in a little, went to the gym and did not even finish up until nearly 6:30, came home ate a quick little breakfast and really did not rush to leave town. In hindsight, could have probably did without the 5 a.m gym run, there were no shortages of opportunities to work other muscles besides the legs on this hike.

    Didn't even start hiking until 9! Sacrilege for the last day of June in AZ! However, thanks in part to my usual early morning caffeine buzz, I thought why not? Although, in hindsight it would have probably been prudent to let someone know where and what I was doing before sister's peak, when I finally got the bright idea to at least shoot Chumley a quick text.

    I don't know if I always took the right route, but I made it! The hike was awesome, just a nice little test of nerves, strength, stamina etc. It also had a little twist at the end.

    I ran into two guys on way back to TH, and their exact first words to me were, "hey, we are a little loss." When I came across them they were down to one water source between the two of them and measuring shadows in an attempt to determine the cardinal directions. They had violated a very basic rule that whenever I bring up people scoff and laugh at me. A map is nearly useless for the most part if you can not identify any of your cardinal directions, last I check paper maps do not orient their self. I don't want to make light of their situation, but they were close to the TH. However, they were preparing to head back to the fork heading towards Amethyst Mine, as they were sure that is where they went wrong. I told them, "look you two are grown men, so I wont lecture you, but I am going to hike probably a 1000 miles this year, and you will never catch me out hiking without at the very least my compass and GPS and preferably a map if possible." They totally got it and were relieved to join me for final stretch back to TH. Although, a comical situation to most of us, this is how tragedies happen, so if I don't show up, these two guys with about 20 oz of water would have hiked all the way back to the mining area, probably turned around again and who knows what may have happened from there. When we got to the car they told me their goal was to knock out at least three of the peaks, to give a perspective they started ten minutes after me and did Brown's Peak plus about 300 feet towards his brother before they wisely backed off. In fact, the one guy said, "hey did you find you had to climb to hit all those peaks today, because we were climbing!?" I replied, "a little" ;)

    After Action Review (AAR):

    One thing I did well: Route finding, I don't remember ever having to back track, although, when I post my route it may say different.

    One thing I need to improve on: Communication! probably does not hurt to let someone know where I am at for these type of hikes.

    One thing I can sustain: Pace was solid, granted I had a route as guide, but was still able to knock out the Mother Lode in under seven hours, seems respectable from the trip logs I read.

    Consumed before hike: 1 scoop of NO Explode, 1 NOS Energy drink and a bowl of Kix, Just a little 600mg caffeine buzz to start your day.

    Consumed During hike: 80 oz of water, 20 oz of Gatorade, two Fig Newtons, a Rice Crispy Treat and three peanut butter crackers, no time to eat when you are climbing all day.

    Final Notes: I always have a soundtrack in my head for my hikes, usually a song I am too embarrassed to admit was stuck in my head, and I silently and even aloud sometimes usually recite the one chorus I know over and over, Well for this hike that song was "Mother" by Danzig, I thought very appropriate.

    Just a great way to end my most productive month of hiking as a HAZ member, from Grand Canyon to the top of Humphreys, Bear Wallow, Blue Range, Pacheta, some peaks and high points around Prescott and a nice little grand finale..The Mother Lode.

    HAZ Appreciation:Thank you Janelle for route, Chumley said you can thank Janelle for that route, so thank you.
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    Despite some guy hitting my truck on El Oso Road, I was able to answer the Amethyst Trail's siren call at a reasonable time Sunday afternoon. The Wilderness was clearing out as I made my way up Browns Trail through golden thickets of gambel oak. Browns Peak invited me to its rugged crest, but I chose to wait for another visit and hopefully tack on Peak 2. A chilly autumn wind swept the western slope of the peaks as I pushed through the thick brush along the Amethyst Trail, adding fresh wounds to already raw legs. Towering above, the Four Peaks glowed amber in the soft light of sunset. The surprising sound of human voices and a miner's drill greeted me at the gate to the amethyst mine. I descended to a rock slide to watch the day's final light fade over the distant metropolis. The drilling continued as the moon rose over the crags above. I made my retreat across the rugged slopes in the pale moonlight, startling what I'm guessing was an unseen bear at one point. Back at deserted Lone Pine Saddle, I contemplated my next move. Into the dark I sped, eventually spending a fridgid night above Clover Canyon on the Rim. After a refreshing dunk in the Verde River at dawn, I drove straight to work. A fine mini-adventure.
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    I took the long way home from Phoenix by going up the Four Peaks road. The drive took longer than I had hoped, so I got a late start on Browns Trail. Browns Peak was too tempting to pass up. There was a tricky spot near the top of Browns' chute that I hadn't remembered, where a (new?) chockstone made for an exposed bypass. I started for the amethyst mine at dusk, plowing through brush and singing to the bears. After an hour searching for amethyst, I located a giant piece. Against my better judgement, I shoved the 53 pound boulder into my pack. Two hours later, after many rest breaks and much groaning and cursing, I arrived back at Lone Pine Trailhead, where I made dinner, then rolled out for Jakes Corner at midnight for a few hours of sleep under the stars in the bed of my truck (had to be back at work in Prescott at 8am). Very tired today...
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    Been itching to figure out the backwards Z and run the knife ridge on 2. With a two hour earlier start than Mike and I did on Wednesday the temps were a scary six degrees warmer. After a couple ideas we set out for the ol' standard and decided to run the ridge out on 2 north to south.

    The peregrine falcons Mike and I dealt with on Wed were back in action. Luckily not so much to the extreme so moments of silence were enjoyed.

    From 2 we followed it south coming across a knife edge that was a first for both of us. Which was more fun than scary. Further on we realized we'd checked out the upper Z with juliachaos & Dave1. Last time Dave down climbed a segment and we went on his word to forget it. I needed to see it for myself. It ramps up and around to the top of the bZ. What starts out as a good 3-4 foot ledge quickly dwindles down to a crack. I followed it up just a few yards taking some video. Soon I was shaking uncontrollably yet having a great time too.

    There is no way to top out on the backwards Z from this side unless you are into sideways crack climbing with ridiculous exposure. Perhaps one last check on the other side is in order before swearing it off. Moving on we dropped down onto the upper Z where we were greeted by a small snake. Glad we didn't run it in the opposite direction as that would be some surprise at the end! Heading down the angled upper Z we reminisced ( our hike with Steve Forbes' son ) how little we enjoy going DOWN it. To add fuel to the fire our exit was ridiculous.

    Back on solid ground we opted for juggy routes on 3 before gnatfest on 4. It was good to meet face to face with the sheer heart pounding power of fear again.
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    Mike said he doesn't do the ML often but when he does he prefers it HOT! So after last week's inaugural run a follow up was in order. The game plan was to identify what I've dubbed Dave1's "Speed Route".

    Driving in passing Mine Mountain on the east ( about 4,200 ft ) we came to a cow elk and her calf in the road. This surprised me even though I've been telling Bruce they inhabit the area.

    69 degrees greeted us at the trailhead. 1 mile in we met some interesting guys. Wally would really enjoy a long dutch conversation with one of the guys. We chatted just under an hour after all was said and done.

    Took 5 quarts and consumed 3.5. Would have consumed more if it would have Long sleeves and pants again. Much warmer and this setup won't work for this cowboy.

    Mike seems to be on par in route finding with Juliachaos at her peak performance years ago. We identified Dave1's "Speed Route" in slow motion. For the first time I can finally say I'm beginning to understand peak number two :y:

    Great hike minus the worlds most annoying bird that cackled for hours only gasping for air on occassion
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    Mom doesn't get a lot of summer visitors so Mike and I decided to go say hello. Temps were extremely nice to Peak 2 then up to 90 degrees at the end. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Took 6 quarts agua and consumed 5. Wore pants and a long sleeve dark blue shirt... the only super thin poly I own, not as hot as feared.

    At one point I thought Mike lost his rope as it dropped off a bush when he passed. My vision is on the decline. He didn't bring rope, it turned out to be a snake. Roosevelt Lake is currently the nicest blue I recall. Air quality was pretty good judging by the crisp view of Pusch Ridge in Tucson. Peak 4 was kinna undesirable as the gnats were crazy through the brush. The slightest brush of a twig released thousands.

    On the Amethyst Trail we confirmed rather large bears inhabit the area. A monsoon storm will probably wash away the confirmation.
    Amethyst Mine via Brown's Trail
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    Been wanting to do this one for a while and Glenda was game (she's a really good sport!).

    I have driven FR143 three times. The last time, it must have recently been graded, because it was pretty darn decent (johnr1 might still remember how fast I was taking those turns!). But, this time, it was pretty darn awful. All the summer rains we had have left it in miserable shape. Even in my Jeep, travel was agonizing and slow, although I still think that the much longer alternate route on El Oso Rd would have taken more time (albeit, with much less pain).

    After reading some of the comments here about the brush on this trail and the value of long pants, I tried on every pair of hiking pants I had that morning, only to re-discover what I already knew... that I hate them and they will never, EVER be worn in public. It was just too warm for jeans, so throwing caution to the wind, I opted for shorts and hoped for the best. While the trail was a bit brushy in places (though it obviously gets plenty of use), the vegetation there is much more skin-friendly than the stabbing, slicing razor brush I am used to in the Superstitions. I came out without a scratch.

    I was hoping to get a good look at the mine (or at least, the area around it), but the trail doesn't get you very close at all. I know that some people have gone all the way up to the mine, but we didn't want to push our luck on the trespassing thing, especially with helicopters continually flying overhead. We were too far below it to see much more that just the outer edge of the grounds. I can actually see more of it on Google Earth. That was kind of disappointing. Fortunately, I had great company or the return trip would have seemed endless.

    Thanks, GB! :D

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Lone Pine Trailhead
    From Scottsdale follow Shea Blvd East to its terminus at SR87. Turn Left onto SR87. Follow SR87(this is the Beeline) to the Four Peaks Turnoff which is FR143. FR143 is well marked. Follow FR143 for about 19 miles of sheer hell in a car to the Mazatzal Divide. Turn right here onto FR648 and follow about 2 miles to the trailhead.

    From Mesa by CannondaleKid ( 2018-07-20 )
    From Red Mountain 202 & AZ 87/Country Club Dr
    5.0 miles = AZ 87/Gilbert Road intersection
    11.7 miles = AZ 87/Shea Boulevard intersection
    13.7 miles = AZ 87/Fort McDowell (Casino) Road intersection
    21.9 miles = AZ 87/Bush Highway overpass
    26.7 miles = AZ 87/Four Peaks Road (FR 143) Turn RIGHT

    From AZ 87/Beeline Highway & FR 143/Four Peaks Rd
    0.81 miles = Four Peaks Recreational Parking Lot Continue straight
    1.43 miles = Secondary Recreational Parking Lot Continue straight
    2.08 miles = Recreational Parking Lot at Forest Road 401 Bear LEFT
    3.38 miles = Forest Road 11 (Great Western Trail) 90-degree RIGHT turn
    4.05 miles = Forest Road 1521 90-degree curve LEFT
    10.87 miles = Forest Road 143A (Cline TH) Sharp 160-degree RIGHT turn
    14.98 miles = Mud Spring TH Bear LEFT and continue
    17.75 miles = Cattle Guard/Forest Road 648 Sharp 180-degree RIGHT turn
    19.10 miles = Lone Pine Trailhead End of FR 648

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 60.6 mi - about 2 hours 2 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 159 mi - about 3 hours 21 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 161 mi - about 3 hours 15 mins
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