Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona is home to many unique hiking trails. It is also home to many old copper and uranium mines. When I visited my mom in May, she took me on a hike to an old uranium mine, and it’s now one of my favorite hikes in the area.
This hike is under 5 miles roundtrip. On AllTrails, this hike is listed as a hard, and I agree with that assessment. I workout and go on runs a few times a week, but I am by no means super fit. I think that anyone in some sort of physical shape could do this hike, but it could be challenging for people who aren’t used to hiking or exercising.
Also, please make sure that you bring enough water on your hike! This is the desert! I typically bring two water bottles, but you might need more. The majority of the trail is shaded, so sunglasses or a hat should be fine, and it’s up to you whether or not you want to wear sunscreen. I always bring snacks for once I reach the top, so maybe bring a granola bar or orange. (Please make sure that you take your trash out of the park! #KeepOurParksClean) Coronado National Forest is at 5,000 ft. elevation, so take it slow and make sure that you catch your breath if you need to if you aren’t used to higher elevation. (I currently live in Houston, which is basically at sea level, so the 5,000 elevation gain hit me hard.)
To get to the hike, you have to drive to the topmost parking lot in Coronado National Forest. It’s $8 a day per car to park, or you can get a yearly pass for $40. I’ve definitely gotten a ticket from not paying for a day pass, so be careful.
Once you park, there is about a one-mile hike to the actual trailhead. The walk to the trailhead takes you up quite a few stairs and up a service road. The service road is very dusty and rocky, and not like a typical “hike” in the mountains. It’s the first challenge of a pretty hard hike but it ends pretty quickly.
You’ll follow a stream and eventually spot a sign for the trailhead. It’s easy to miss though because it’s reddish-brown and blends into the trees, so keep your eyes open to spot it. My mom said that she passed it a few times without noticing it, whereas I noticed it right away.
You follow the stream for a while before you begin bouldering. And, I do mean bouldering. It’s not intense, but you do have to climb up and down boulders. It feels like you’re out on an adventure in the woods and I really love it. Be cautious though, because they may be slippery or dusty and if your shoes don’t have good traction, you might slip. I’ve slipped before and scrapped up my elbows and hands.
After the bouldering, you start the climb upwards. This is when the hike becomes more intense. It’s a pretty intense incline and whenever I do this hike, I have to stop a few times to catch my breath.
You’ll eventually reach an old remnant of a mine: an old metal tool structure that pumped minerals out from the depths of the mountain. This, however, isn’t the end of the hike. Keep going!
Finally, you’ll reach the end of the hike. It basically just stops right at the entrance of the mine. You’ll see a “Caution” sign and giant black hole. You can’t go inside because there’s a stream of water that goes into it and blocks your way inside (unless you want to get wet) and ALSO, I’ve heard that it just drops off, so please be careful and… don’t fall in.
And that’s it! There’s a little loop that will take you through the forest a bit and there are spots where people have created fire pits (although you’re not supposed to, so please don’t, especially when everything is dry). The loop will take you right back to the main trail, and you’ll go back the way you came.
I think that this trail is really interesting because you follow a stream most of the way and it provides you with a lovely trickling noise, and hiking to a mine while getting in a workout is always fun. It’s very peaceful hike.
If you’re in the area and looking to do something outdoorsy and social distance, I highly recommend this hike!
Thank you for reading! Have you ever hiked to a mine before? Where was it? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!