Mining trail loop: first canyon south of Monarch canyon

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Rockhopper
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Mining trail loop: first canyon south of Monarch canyon

Post by Rockhopper » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:45 am

Mining trail loop: First canyon south of Monarch Canyon

(Note: there is one even smaller canyon between this and Monarch, so this could possibly be counted as the second canyon south. Oh, never mind.)

This canyon itself is not extremely noteworthy, but on the south side of the canyon, miners dug a few tunnels following a vein of mineralized quartz. It’s an easy hike to the mine, and by dropping into the canyon for the return trip, it can be made into a short loop hike. Thus the walk combines historical, mineralogical, and scenic interest. I’m sure some forum members already know about this site, and have visited the mines.

To start, if coming from the east, park on the Beatty Cutoff road, 2.5 miles from the junction with Daylight Pass Road. From the west, park 7.4 miles from the junction of the Beatty Cutoff road with Highway 190. There’s a wide spot on the east shoulder of the road. Coordinates for parking are decimal 36.689424, -116.960670, GPS 36°41.36544', -116°57.6402'.

Hike due east until you cross a faint two-track road. Turn left, to the north, and follow the road. If you lose it when it drops into the wash, just follow the main watercourse north and a little bit east. The road ends a short distance inside the canyon mouth, at decimal 36.703030, -116.944113, GPS 36°42.1818', -116°56.64678'.

The road shows signs of being driven; it may be OK to use a 4WD vehicle for access. That would cut about a mile and a half from the trip. The road starts at the south end of the parking area, winds to the south and across a couple of washes before turning back north toward the canyon. There is a primitive, unofficial campsite at the end of the road. Check with the park rangers for the real word on what is permitted here. If you are on foot, though, it’s shorter to walk cross-country than to take the loop of road to the south.

Below: the road near the upper end. The wash to the right in the image is a short side canyon; the main canyon is out of sight to the left of the road.

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From the end of the road, the trail crosses into the mountains just at the foot of the whitish hillside to the left of the road (to the north). Once you’re on it, the trail is easy to follow, and there are a few cairns.

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About a third of a mile from the start, the trail crosses a deep gully. About 100 yards past that, look for a faint trail forking off uphill; this leads to the first mine adit. A small network of indistinct trails links the various tunnels and workings. On the satellite image below, the workings (that I could see) are circled in red. The first trail junction is circled in blue, and one possible route down into the canyon is shown by a blue arrow.

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The left-most adit in the image connects through an interior tunnel to the one next door. Some of the workings tunnel well into the hillside; some are just trenches at the surface.

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One of the deeper adits has a rickety ladder descending to depths I did not care to explore.

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The image below shows what the miners were digging up.

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The usual detritus is scattered around: a chipped cold chisel, a bit of a Parkay margarine box, some sardine tins, some rusty cans. In the image below, a rust-colored square boulder seems to mimic the shape of the kerosene can above it.

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I don’t have any information about the dates of this mining claim, or what it produced, if anything more than ore samples. Parkay margarine was introduced in 1937, so assuming that the box was not brought in by hikers, the mine was being worked after that date. If anybody knows more, I’d love to hear it.

To get down into the canyon bottom, go back to the lower trail and follow it past the large tailings pile that spills down the hillside. Just look for a clear way down; most of the slope is steep but not too loose.

Below the mines, the canyon goes through some nicely sculpted ledges.

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A dryfall about a quarter of a mile down-canyon can be bypassed on the left (looking down-canyon). The image shows the dryfall from below, looking back up the canyon.

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Nice minor narrows continue for a couple of hundred yards below the dryfall.

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The canyon opens up into a wider wash shortly afterwards, and the left bank slopes down toward the floor of the wash. The end of the road is around the tail end of the left-bank slope.

The total distance from the parking area on the Beatty Cutoff, to the mines, and back down the canyon to the car is about 5 miles. This doesn’t count any hiking around exploring the mines; allow 3 or 4 hours. Or more if you want to follow some of the old trails along the hillsides to the northeast, or explore the adits. (The usual cautions about old mine tunnels apply; beware of the leopard.)

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Kauri
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Re: Mining trail loop: first canyon south of Monarch canyon

Post by Kauri » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:58 pm

Very nice!

I'm curious if you've visited the two drainages north of Cyty's Mill and/or King Midas Canyon, since you did a bit of exploring in the Monarch Canyon area?

I'm guessing that driving that road is not permitted, as Digonnet treats it as an old road usable as a hiking route in his book.
My trip reports, from Death Valley and beyond: http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.c ... eports.php

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Rockhopper
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Re: Mining trail loop: first canyon south of Monarch canyon

Post by Rockhopper » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:08 am

Kauri, no, I did not get to King Midas or as far south as the drainages immediately north of Cyty's mill. I had backpacked to a base camp in one of the lower canyons, and did hikes near there.

I have one more trip to report on from that area -- a longer, more scenic canyon than the other two. But it's neither of the places you mention. Maybe next time...

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