Monte Christo Mine Trail
On this trail, take a relatively short but twisty ride through some rich mining country northeast of Wickenburg. Along the way, you’ll pass numerous mine workings and an abundance of other trails and great camping spots make this a great place to spend a weekend.
Permits: A State Trust Land Permit is required for this trail. Permits cost $15/individual or $20 for two people and are good for 1 year. Get permits here.
Where to go:
From Loop 101 in Peoria, head northwest on US-60 towards Wickenburg. Follow this for 40 miles until you reach Wickenburg. In Wickenburg, turn right just before the McDonalds onto El Recero Drive. El Recero becomes Constellation Road which you will follow for an additional 8.6 miles past Constellation Park to the staging area. There are numerous places to stage and camp before the intersection of Constellation Road & Buckhorn Road so if you pick one of those, ride to this intersection to start the trail.
From the intersection of Constellation Road & Buckhorn Road, head north along the wide and graded Constellation Road. At 0.4 miles, turn right into a normally dry wash. Follow the more traveled path past Sayer Spring (some ruins off to the right side of the wash) and climb out of the wash to the left at 0.6 miles. The trail climbs while twisting and turning through the hillside. Off to the left at 1.5 miles are some extensive mine tailings that are interesting to check out if you have extra time. Although the road remains fairly wide, use caution around some of the blind turns. At 3.1 miles you’ll reach the Monte Christo Mine which is off to the right. Pull off and check out the still-intact head frame and numerous other buildings. Stay away from the shafts (mostly underneath the head frame). Mines and other foundations dot the hills surrounding the Monte Christo if you look hard enough.
When you’re done checking out the structures at the Monte Christo Mine, you can continue north along Constellation Road. The trail begins to climb some more as it continues to wind through the hills. Stay straight at 3.6 miles and cross a wash at 3.8 miles. The trail continues to climb ultimately reaching a high spot at 4.7 miles. If you stop here, and look south, you’ll have a nice view of the Monte Christo and some of the other mines that litter this area. After cresting the hill, the trail begins to drop. Again, use caution on the tight turns – this area still has active mining and ranching so don’t be surprise to see another vehicle on the road back here.
You’ll pass a pullout at 5.3 miles. Don’t go down this side trail because it leads to private property, but you can see the Gold Bar Mine which still has a standing head frame from here. If you look around, you’ll also see countless old water tanks and buildings on the surrounding terrain – this area was certainly very active at one point in time. The trail continues to snake downhill before ending in a dry wash just after 5.7 miles. In this wash, you may be surprised to find several buildings built along the banks of the wash. The buildings say to keep out but we saw nothing saying we couldn’t walk around outside and explore the wash. Observe from the outside but be respectful to the owners. Constellation Road does continue for about another mile before dead-ending at private ranch. We decided to turn around at the buildings just below the Gold Bar Mine.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
Overall, this entire trail is fairly easy and short. It is about 10 miles roundtrip from Buckhorn Road to the Gold Bar Mine and back. Allow 1-2 hours to complete the trail, adding more time for stops. The road isn’t difficult. We’ve given this trail a ‘3’ rating mainly because few minor rough climbs and blind turns. A stock SUV with decent clearance should do just fine. Because of some of the dry wash crossings, cars aren’t recommended on this trail.