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Thread: Flux Canyon and World's Fair Mine, Arizona

  1. #1
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    Default Flux Canyon and World's Fair Mine, Arizona

    The day I returned home from a week camping in New Mexico with my daughter and about 10 of her schoolmates, I caught a nasty cold. I spent the next four days in bed, coughing, blowing my nose and chugging cherry flavored Nyquil.

    “Wanna go camping again?” my wife joked.

    “Sure,” I replied. I’d felt fine when I was camping. “Let’s go. I need to get out of the house.”

    She shook her head and gave me another box of tissues. I had called her bluff. She really didn’t want to go camping, but I did want to get outside. I didn’t think I was healthy enough to go camping that weekend, but I could foresee an easy 4WD exploring trip happening.

    We decided to do some exploring down near Patagonia along the Flux Canyon trail for a few reasons: 1) Easy 4wd, 2) About 10 degrees cooler than Tucson and 3) Haven’t been there since 2005, 4) I found some other spur trails to explore on Google Earth.

    We set off early Sunday morning, arriving at the trailhead about 8 am. The first section of Flux Canyon goes through private property and you can see some really cool homes WAY up on the hills/mountains – what views!

    After the last home, the trail became steep, rutted and rocky. This is the most difficult part of the trip. It was worse than it had been in 2005. I blew a sidewall here in my Tacoma back then. The tough section only lasted about 1/3 of a mile, then although still steep, the road was smooth and flat. We saw the fresh tracks of a FS dozer. Not only had they graded the road, but I think they widened it by at least 5 feet.

    We found the dozer parked on the side of the road a little while later. It looked like he was about to finish grading the rough section that we had just come up. It turns out they had graded the rest of the road to Harshaw (also some of the other forest roads we would go on that day).

    When they complete the grading, I would rate this trail a 1.5/5 (instead of 2/5 I rated it in 2005). If they do a good job with the rough section, you could probably make it in a 2WD truck before it starts getting washed out again.

    The first spur road we wanted to take off Flux Canyon was blocked off with large boulders. This led to the Flux Mine. Since it was only about 600 feet away, we walked. Not much there except some foundations, tailings, and a big rock slide that had taken out a large portion of the trail (no wonder it was blocked off). There were also fresh dozer tracks here too, not sure if the FS was trying to help or covering something up? The mine also offered some nice views and we saw a trail in the valley below that looked promising.


    Nice views!


    Foundations at Flux Mine


    Walking the plank

    We walked back to the trucks, drove along Flux Canyon until we reached FR5785. Not bulldozed! It was less than a mile long and looked like it went back to a recent mining claim where someone put in a great deal of effort to construct and elaborate rock drainage system from the mountain the Flux Mine was on (which we had just come from). It appeared to be only there to keep the end of the road we were on from washing out. To me, seemed like a lot of effort for such a small return. But what do I know??

    The next spur road was FR215. Another easy 4WD trail. The first thing we stumbled across was this strange looking device next to an old metal tank (half cylinder). It looked like the base for some kind of pump.


    I wonder what this was?
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

  2. #2
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    The shelf road leads to the Chief Mine and what we thought were maybe some old foundations seen on Google Earth. The road is steep as it descends down into Flux Canyon and there are large amounts of tailings at the Chief Mine, but no ruins. What we saw on GE were the tailings and a large metal culvert recently installed under the road.


    Google Earth image of the area around the Chief Mine (GE has poor resolution in this area)

    Undeterred, we continued on to see where the trail would end. Just down from the culvert, the road crosses Flux Canyon and was badly washed out. It had a 2-3 foot vertical drop off.

    Luckily, there was a bypass nearby. The turn across the canyon was sharp and I had to back up once to make the turn. My friend in his 4Runner was next. There was plenty of room to make the turn, but you had to be careful of the large trees and one BIG boulder. Sometimes I think back bumpers have magnets in them that attract boulders like this. Sure enough, he backed straight into it. BANG! Another nice dent in his chrome bumper. Worse yet, it pushed in the bracket enough to make an extremely annoying squeak over every small bump. Every time we stopped he got out his tools to try to adjust the bumper to fix the squeak.

    I hope to upload this video later. My friend in the Jeep behind him got it all on tape :-)

    Not 100 feet later, we discovered the find of the trip. Some awesome rock walls along the canyon. There were two circular walls on the far side of the wash. One was maybe 30 feet in diameter, the other (which shared a portion of the wall) was half the size. At first I thought they were for water collection. But their position in the wash didn’t make a lot of sense for this. It’s possible that something in the wash was no longer there that could have made sense to what still remained. If they were remnants of building walls, it seemed too close to the wash to make sense. Maybe for livestock?

    Near the circular walls was another set of walls that followed the opposite side of the wash for about 100 feet. Again, I thought of water collection, but the topography layout didn’t make sense for that. It could have been to keep the water in the wash/canyon out of something like a building. Or maybe another livestock pen??


    Circular rock walls


    Cat-dog climbing the rock walls


    The long wall on the opposite side of the wash
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

  3. #3
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    We spent some time speculating, but the answer eluded all of us. We decided to walk up the road a little bit to see if it was worth driving. It looked narrow and I was afraid it would just stop and we would have to back down ¼ mile of narrow shelf road. We walked up it for about that distance, huffing and puffing in the heat and elevation. It seemed good, so we decided to walk back down to our vehicles and drive it. I joked that the road probably ended 100 feet from where we stopped walking.

    I shouldn’t do that. My jokes have a tendency of coming true, which this one did. The only saving grace was there was enough room for us to turn around.

    We went back to Flux Canyon and made great time to the World’s Fair Mine. You used to be able to drive right up to the mine, but the FS dozer made sure that wasn’t possible anymore, so we parked on the side of the road and walked to the mine about ¼ mile away. You could also see that someone (the FS?) had put up some erosion control on some of the side hills next to the mine. Not sure what they were trying to protect? Maybe the wash next to the mine?

    It was good to see the ruins were in about the same shape as it was in 2005, maybe a few less timbers, some areas filled in with more debris, etc. No outward signs of vandalism, which is great. We explored the ruins for a little while, then climbed back up to the trucks. It was still a little warm out in the sun. We wanted to go up a little higher and find some nice pine trees to have lunch.


    The mill foundations at World’s Fair Mine




    Here’s a 2005 before and after of the mill


    Another one
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

  4. #4
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    This one is from 1909 and 2012 from the website: http://www.azbackcountryadventures.com/rita.htm

    We took a right onto FR4685. As I made the turn, I saw a bunch of vehicles parked in an open area along Flux Canyon. A single person was beginning to walk up the FR4685. I asked him in a friendly manner what was going on. He replied there was a large group of botanists and entomologists doing a species list in the canyon which we were going. Sounded interesting, but although he seemed fairly friendly, he didn’t want to offer any more information to what they were doing. I also asked him if he knew anything about what was up the road. He didn’t. It was his first time there. We told him we were just there looking for a nice place to picnic and would try not to interfere with his work. Then we thanked him anyway and proceeded to drive up the road.

    We would pass others in his group along the way. Some were a little friendly, others not so much. They wouldn’t wave at us and if looks could kill, well, I don’t think I would be here today. We tried to talk to a few more of them, but after we got a few more cold shoulders and some fairly rude responses, I gave up.

    This seemed strangely similar to my experience with the other botanists, etc. we encountered during the Wakefield Canyon trip. To me, it appears they are trying to keep whatever they are doing a big secret. Or maybe they are just tired of trying to explain what they do to whatever joker who questions them? If they would have come up to me and asked me about my Jeep, my dog, or what I was doing out there, I would have been happy to engage them in a friendly discussion. But, then again, I’m just Mr. Friendly (and not out there doing a job :-). Or maybe they just hated four-wheelers? Although they were using a 4WD road to easily walk up the canyon they wanted to explore, maybe they thought we are all evil.

    This trail was also “improved” recently and very smooth and easy. We made it to the end quickly. It was a large turn around spot, with tall pines, a swampy wash with green reeds with a neat rock canyon above. A perfect spot for lunch. We happily ate in the shade of the pines, took a quick hike up the wash, then packed up to head back down. We waved at the botanists on our return trip, selfishly grinning that they were still humping it up the trail with their large backpacks eating protein bars. The first guy we had talked to waved us down and asked us about what we’d found. We told him and wished him well.


    A great place for a picnic


    The rocky wash we walked up


    Google Earth of camping spot
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

  5. #5
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    On another semi-funny note, I had to really pee when we got there. I shot out of the Jeep, found a nearby tree and let loose. It wasn’t until we were leaving and I backed out of my parking area that my sister noticed a game camera hidden in the tree right next to where I went pee. LOL. I don’t have a picture of that, but someone now does. That’s now the second time that’s happened. Hopefully, that picture won’t make it up on someone’s website in the future. I have to be much more careful of where I choose to go to the bathroom. There are a ton of those little cameras out there nowadays.

    When we made the turn back onto Flux Canyon, I noticed that most of the vehicles they had driven up were 4WD trucks (with the exception of one Hyundai Sante Fe). They couldn’t hate all four-wheelers if they themselves owned them, could they? It was a question that wouldn’t be answered that day so we moved on.

    A short time after, we reached the graded dirt road at Harshaw. We visited the Harshaw cemetery, climbed some BIG trees and relaxed in the shade for a little. I wanted to see if we could make it to Bog Hole near Meadow Valley Flat. I found this on Google Earth. It appears to be a large tank with a good sized dam made by the Forest Service. Meadow Valley Flat is a huge tract of grassland that is very … flat. You probably saw that coming. Scenes from the movie Oklahoma were filmed near there.


    Harshaw Graveyard


    Violent past


    Nice tree


    Not so easy to climb
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

  6. #6
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    We took a right at the town of Harshaw and immediately ran into a bunch of Private Property signs. There are some really nice adobe ruins in the area. The PP signs were on the side of the road, but the road seemed to head right into some ranches. I wasn’t sure if the road itself was PP, so we turned around and decided to take another road up to Thunder Mine south of Harshaw.


    Adobe home


    Another adobe structure


    Too bad this was private property

    Again, this road had been recently dozed by the FS. It quickly switched backed up to a saddle that gave outstanding views in all directions. The shelf road was a little scary with such a large drop off and I was glad that the road was wide and fairly smooth. After climbing and descending a few times, we came to a rocky wash lined with tall pine trees that was short of our destination. The FS had stopped their improvements here, but we decided to keep going to see if we could reach Thunder Mine.


    Views from the saddle
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

  7. #7
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    At the saddle


    Google Earth image

    The road was more difficult from here on. At one point, we came across a fallen tree that blocked our path. For the second time in as many trips, I used a strap to clear the path.

    We found a large tailing spot and a horizontal mine shaft at Thunder Mine. The area also has a good-sized flat area for camping in the pines.


    The large flat area near Thunder Mine

    The road forks at Thunder Mine, both trails are not well-used and begin to narrow significantly. We decided to leave these to the ATVs and headed for home. Cat-dog was late for her afternoon nap so she crashed as soon as we hit pavement.


    Nap time

    For a full trail description, GPS coordinates, maps, etc. visit Experience Arizona’s Flux Canyon Adventure page at: http://www.experience-az.com/adventu...luxcanyon.html
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

  8. #8
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    That brings me back to the old times out in AZ running through the mountains in anything 4WD. Any run-ins with Border Patrol down there in Santa Cruz County? I used to come up on them sometimes on the El Camino Del Diablo and around Silverbell.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for descriptions and photos, link also.

  10. #10
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    Border patrol has a BIG presence down near the border now. We didn't see too many on this trip, but one of the last times we went to Patagonia, we saw at least 10 BP vehicles.
    "Life's not about how fast you can blast through it, but how slow you can go."
    matt@experience-az.com | www.experience-az.com

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