Backway to Oatman

Take a historic ride on this easy trail and former railroad bed that connected the mining town of Oatman, just to the north, to the Colorado River. Along the route, you’ll pass through the former siding at Milltown and be treated to nice views of Boundary Cone.  

Last Known Status: Open Trail type: Point-to-point Length: 10.2 miles one-way Approx. time: 1-2 hours Traffic: Light
Permit Needed: No Current Info: BLM/Havasu F.O. (928-505-1208) Nearest City: Topock Elevation: 545'-1955' Best Time: Fall-Spring

Where to go:

From Bullhead City, head south on Highway 95 for 10 miles to the small town of Willow Valley. Turn left onto Willow Drive and follow it 3.1 miles east through farmland to the start of the trail. Road becomes dirt. Staging available north of the trail where the road splits. You’ll want to stay left onto the lesser traveled road to start the trail. If you’re coming from Oatman, proceed 4 miles south on Route 66. Turn right off paved Route 66 where the road crests due west of Boundary Cone.


Trail Description:

The road departs the staging/play area and heads northeast. The trail remains wide and gently climbs as it crosses through numerous washes. Just before the 2.0 mile mark, you’ll pass through the former site of Milltown and come to a junction. There is a large water tank and info kiosk to the left. To get to the town site and the few remnants, turn right. Continue northeast as the trail levels off.

At 2.7 miles you’ll cross a small wash and make an important left turn off the main road. This turn should be marked but may still be easy to miss. You’ll now be heading northwest as the trail begins following along the old Mohave and Milltown Railroad bed off to the left. The trail remains mostly easy as it continues crossing washes and gently climbing. Turn back northeast at 3.2 miles. At 3.5 miles, the road crosses over the railroad bed, now easily visible. At 3.9 miles, the trail drops into a wide wash. Continue straight across it and stay north as other tracks lead both left and right. Conditions will likely vary in the wash bottom depending on how recently it rained. Exit the wash and return to dirt at 4.1 miles.

The trail continues to meander towards Boundary Cone as it follows the railroad bed. Cross over it again several times, including at 5.3 miles and again at 5.8 miles. At 6.4 miles, cross under powerlines. You’ll come to a more traveled road running left-right at 6.7 miles. Stay straight on the lesser traveled trail. Cross over the railroad bed one final time at 6.8 miles. The trail begins to be pinched by two washes from either side. Enter a wide wash at 8.2 miles as they join together. Follow the vehicle tracks through the wash and make an important right turn out of the wash at 8.3 miles. The turnoff is signed but easy to miss. The trail remains uneventful till the end as it approaches Boundary Cone. Turn right at the junction at 9.4 miles and take a hard left at 9.6 miles. The trail ends at historic Route 66 at 10.2 miles. Continue left 4 miles to get to Oatman. Topock is to the right.

Notes & Trail Ratings:

Overall this is an easy trail. We’ve rated this trail a ‘3’ out of ‘10’. High clearance required but 4-wheel drive not needed unless there has been a recent rain. The sections of trail on dirt are easy but the sections in the wash could vary. The trail is often faint and lightly traveled. Stock SUV’s with 2WD are fine. One way, this trail is 10.2 miles. Allow for about 1-2 hours to do the trail and make a few stops. If you’ve never been to Oatman, you should definitely check it out. This trail, and the surrounding area offer a lot of historical features if you’re into that sort of thing. The Mohave and Milltown narrow gauge railroad was built in 1903 for $250,000. It was closed just a year later. Read more about Oatman here.

Video by Victor Solanoy


Page last updated: 1/1/2019