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Uranium Mines Rd Meander - Sierra Ancha, AZ
mini location map2016-05-03
17 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Uranium Mines Rd Meander - Sierra Ancha, AZ 
Uranium Mines Rd Meander - Sierra Ancha, AZ
Hiking avatar May 03 2016
Hiking2.60 Miles 417 AEG
Hiking2.60 Miles
417 ft AEG12 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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We added this hike for the last full hiking day of our 7 night camping trip to the high Sierra Ancha. The plan was to explore FR 3222 which goes up the north side of Workman Creek Canyon from its intersection with FR 487 just past the Elks Youth Camp. The Creek Side day use area a short way up FR 487 provides a convenient place to park your car and start the hike. We wanted to check out some old uranium mines along that FR 3222 and to see if we could verify that it connected up with a 4x4 road from Honey Creek Divide on HW288 (Globe-Young Highway). The topo maps on HAZ show FR 3222 crossing over the ridge to Reynolds Creek Canyon and then turning up canyon traversing the side of Reynolds Creek Canyon all the way to the Reynolds Creek Trailhead but don't show the connection to Honey Divide. I've seen a 4x4 triplog on HAZ which leads me to think FR 73222 does connect with a road from Honey Divide. Also, a few years ago I encountered a couple of ATV riders on Reynolds Creek Rd who said they had just driven this route from Honey Divide. However an attempt by HAZ member friendofThundergod to hike the FR 73222 route from Workman Creek to the Reynolds Creek TH was not successful. [ photoset ] He got lost in a maze of old mining roads leading off of 7322 above Workman Creek (or maybe his GPS batteries went dead - just trying to give him an excuse). So another objective of our hike was to establish a GPS track for FR 73222 through this road maze.

The HAZ topo maps show a number of adits along FR 7322 up on the side of Workman Creek Canyon. A quick review of the 1984 Sierra Ancha Mining Survey indicates these adits are most likely part of the Little Joe uranium mine claim. There were 5 adits and several open cuts and prospects. The original claims were located in 1954. The survey indicates a total of 2703 tons of ore had been shipped by 1957 from the Little Joe Mines averaging 0.20 percent U308. There are also 3 adits in the general area of FR 73222 that were part of the Workman Mine claim. A total of only 258 tons of ore shipped from that claim by 1957. The 1984 survey also lists the Jon Mine claim which has an adit on the north side of FR487 across the road from the Cascade day use area. The survey reports that 450 tons of ore averaging about 0.10 percent U3O8 had been stockpiled on the property in 1957. No wonder the Cascade rec site is limited to day use only due to risk of radiation exposure.

We parked GH's 4-Runner in the Creek Side day use area and started down the road to where our Garmin Southwest topo showed the location for FR 73222. After stumbling around in a drainage which had been severely disrupted by flash floods over the years we found FR 7322 a short distance down the road from the location shown on the map. I added a waypont to the GPS track for this hike which shows exactly where FR 73222 starts. The hike up the road was an easy stroll. It could be driven in a 2 wheel drive vehicle but some rough spots at the beginning require either high clearance or careful driving. About 0.4 miles up the road we found it blocked to further vehicle travel by a series of berms and a pile of boulders. We were starting to see some roads leading off from the main route on the uphill side. We stayed to the left on the main road at all intersections as this appeared to be the route which would take us all the way to an intersection with a road from the Honey Creek Divide.

The road location shown on our Garmin map very closely coincided with our track but the location of the side roads with ones shown on the map was hit or miss. We started seeing a few gaps in the road cut on the uphill side that looked like they could have been prospects or adits that had been filled back in. We did find two mine adits that were open except for heavy bat friendly steel barriers across the entrances to prevent entry. These were in the approximate location described for the Little Joe mine claim in the 1984 Sierra Ancha Mining survey. We continued a short distance up the road past the second mine and could see the road continuing along the hillside in the distance roughly following the 6000 ft elevation contour. It was 0.6 more miles to where the GPS map showed the road intersecting with the road from Honey Divide. But it was getting hot and GH wanted to be sure he got back to camp in time to cook one of his Grasshopper Camp specialties, spagetti with meat balls. So we turned around feeling confident that we had gone far enough to confirm the correct track for getting past the maze of mining roads where friendofThundergod got lost.

I should note here that in comparing our track with the HAZ topo maps there is an error in the location shown for 7322 past the second mine. The HAZ topos show 7322 turning right on the road to this second mine. We attempted to follow this road but it dead ended just past mine #2. So you could be mislead to a dead end if you were following the road using Route Scout with one of the HAZ topo maps uploaded. Actually the correct route seemed pretty much like a no-brainer as long as you always bear left at every intersection until it tees in to the road from Honey Creek Divide. There was one fork in the road where the wrong alternative looked more traveled than the correct route. We checked out that side road on the way back and found it dead ended in about 0.1 miles on the hillside just above the first mine. The appearance of more frequent foot traffic on this spur may have been due to a campsite at a bend in this road. A few discarded empty Hawaiian Punch soda cans in the fire pit were a clue that perhaps this campsite is frequently used by Elks Youth from the camp.

We got back to camp in mid-afternoon and I settled in a camp chair in the shade reading a book while listening to the breeze whispering in the tall pines as puffy white clouds drifted by in the blue sky far above the tree tops. A nice ending to our last hiking day.
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