BACK ROAD TO CROWN KING AZ

DIRECTION FOR THE BACKWAY TO CROWN KING

 

                             From this point on, the trail gets significantly rougher and requires high clearance and 4-wheel drive. The trail narrows as it begins to climb and wind its way north to Crown King. Along the way, you’ll pass many “obstacles”. Most have a bypass but there are still many rough sections. Bypasses/obstacles give people with more capable vehicles the chance to test their driving. You’ll pass the first one at 11.6 miles. Stay to the left at 13 miles where the trail leaves a wash and begins to climb the most difficult hill. Careful tire placement is needed and don’t be afraid to use the bypasses (easier routes) if needed/available. Use a spotter if you are going to attempt the obstacles. At the top of the hill at 13.5 miles, things get easier for a little while. At 14.6 miles you’ll climb another difficult hill. At the top, it gets easier again and winds its way north, crossing in and out of creek beds. Stay straight at 16.8 miles and at 17.0 miles, cross over a cattle guard into the Prescott National Forest. Trail conditions will vary after this since local creeks and storms affect trail erosion. Shallow water crossings could be possible. Turn left off the main trail at 18.0 miles to see the ruins of Fort Misery, located in a scenic clearing which makes a nice break point. Fort Misery was the home of a local miner, Al Francis, who jokingly referred to his house as this. Just after this at 18.1 miles, the trail makes a hard right uphill. The trail follows up above a drainage until 19.8 miles when the trail drops into the creek bottom. Here things can be very rocky depending on the time of last maintenance and rain. Pick the easiest line through the creek. Water crossings/flowing water possible depending on the time of year. The trail weaves back and forth across the creek many times and at 20.9 miles, makes another hard right uphill.     Pass through the town site of Oro Belle at 21.9 miles as the trail begins to turn left uphill and climb. The trail climbs to a great overlook at 22.7 miles. Stay straight at 23.0 miles where a difficult side trail to the left leads to the Tunnel Mine (a neat place to check out if you have time). Just after this, another difficult trail that goes back and to the right connects a series of old mines and comes out near Oro Belle. The trail remains mostly easy passing the Tiger Mine before joining Senator Highway at 24.8. The trail ends in downtown Crown King, off to the left at 26.6 miles. Consider taking Senator Highway, the trail to Horsethief Lake, or Towers Mountain Loop while you’re up here. Crown King is a neat little town that has food, gas, and lodging available. Summary/Trail Rating: Overall this is a pretty long and challenging trail. While the more difficult obstacles have bypasses, this still isn’t an easy trail. At the very least, you should have a high-clearance vehicle with 4-wheel drive. Lockers and other modifications will help. This trail is rated an ‘8’ but may fluctuate from a ‘5’ to a ‘10’ depending on recent storms and the last time it was maintained. This trail is also very busy, one of the most popular in Arizona, and sees lots of traffic. Be careful around blind turns and keep an eye out for other traffic behind you. Expect large groups of Jeeps/riders if you take this trail on the weekend. Overall, this is a fun day trip that lets you challenge your vehicle and explore the southern Bradshaw Mountains.

Take the 26 mile journey from Lake Pleasant to the old mining town of Crown King. Along the challenging trail, you’ll pass through obstacles, old mines, and great views as you climb into the Prescott National Forest.

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Page last updated: 5/12/2015

This trail is sponsored by:

Status: Open

Trail Type: 1-way or Out & back

Length: 26 miles (1-way)

Approx. time: 3-6 hours (1-way)

Elevation: 1716' - 6554'

Nearest City: Crown King

Traffic: Heavy

Best Time: Spring-Fall

How to get there: From I-10 and Loop 101 in the West Valley, head north on Loop 101 for 14 miles. Take exit 15 (Union Hills Dr.) and turn left. Turn right onto 83rd Ave and follow it north for 1 mile. 83rd turns left into Lake Pleasant Parkway. Follow this north for 9 miles and then turn left onto AZ-74. Follow 74 west past Lake Pleasant for 5 miles and then turn right onto Castle Hot Springs. Continue north on Castle Hot Springs Road for 10.0 miles, ignoring side roads that lead to Lake Pleasant. The road turns to dirt and then crosses over Lake Pleasant. Follow the signs for Crown King by turning right onto Cow Creek Road. Staging is off to the right after 1.5 miles along an old dirt strip (33°57'2.21"N 112°18'40.38"W).  The trail: From the intersection of Castle Hot Springs Road & Cow Creek Road, head northeast along the wide and easy trail. The trail turns due north almost right away and passes the staging area at 1.5 miles. 

Backway to Crown King [6 to 8]

Stay left at 2.5 miles where a lesser trail leads to Tule Creek Homestead. At 5.7 miles, you’ll pass through an abandoned settlement along the banks of French Creek, which has a nice overlook just ahead. Stay straight at 7.2 miles where Champie Road goes left and connects to Castle Hot Springs Road. Use caution around 9.0 miles where the trail passes through a small residential area. Be sure not to kick up any dust here. Continuing on, the trail gently climbs up until 11.0 miles where you will reach the famous “CK Rock”. You’ll be turning right here but this is a traditional place to stop and take pictures off the rock or of your vehicle on top of the rock.   From this point on, the trail gets significantly rougher and requires high clearance and 4-wheel drive. The trail narrows as it begins to climb and wind its way north to Crown King. Along the way, you’ll pass many “obstacles”. Most have a bypass but there are still many rough sections. Bypasses/obstacles give people with more capable vehicles the chance to test their driving. You’ll pass the first one at 11.6 miles. Stay to the left at 13 miles where the trail leaves a wash and begins to climb the most difficult hill. Careful tire placement is needed and don’t be afraid to use the bypasses (easier routes) if needed/available. Use a spotter if you are going to attempt the obstacles. At the top of the hill at 13.5 miles, things get easier for a little while. At 14.6 miles you’ll climb another difficult hill. At the top, it gets easier again and winds its way north, crossing in and out of creek beds. Stay straight at 16.8 miles and at 17.0 miles, cross over a cattle guard into the Prescott National Forest. Trail conditions will vary after this since local creeks and storms affect trail erosion. Shallow water crossings could be possible. Turn left off the main trail at 18.0 miles to see the ruins of Fort Misery, located in a scenic clearing which makes a nice break point. Fort Misery was the home of a local miner, Al Francis, who jokingly referred to his house as this. Just after this at 18.1 miles, the trail makes a hard right uphill. The trail follows up above a drainage until 19.8 miles when the trail drops into the creek bottom. Here things can be very rocky depending on the time of last maintenance and rain. Pick the easiest line through the creek. Water crossings/flowing water possible depending on the time of year. The trail weaves back and forth across the creek many times and at 20.9 miles, makes another hard right uphill.     Pass through the town site of Oro Belle at 21.9 miles as the trail begins to turn left uphill and climb. The trail climbs to a great overlook at 22.7 miles. Stay straight at 23.0 miles where a difficult side trail to the left leads to the Tunnel Mine (a neat place to check out if you have time). Just after this, another difficult trail that goes back and to the right connects a series of old mines and comes out near Oro Belle. The trail remains mostly easy passing the Tiger Mine before joining Senator Highway at 24.8. The trail ends in downtown Crown King, off to the left at 26.6 miles. Consider taking Senator Highway, the trail to Horsethief Lake, or Towers Mountain Loop while you’re up here. Crown King is a neat little town that has food, gas, and lodging available. Summary/Trail Rating: Overall this is a pretty long and challenging trail. While the more difficult obstacles have bypasses, this still isn’t an easy trail. At the very least, you should have a high-clearance vehicle with 4-wheel drive. Lockers and other modifications will help. This trail is rated an ‘8’ but may fluctuate from a ‘5’ to a ‘10’ depending on recent storms and the last time it was maintained. This trail is also very busy, one of the most popular in Arizona, and sees lots of traffic. Be careful around blind turns and keep an eye out for other traffic behind you. Expect large groups of Jeeps/riders if you take this trail on the weekend. Overall, this is a fun day trip that lets you challenge your vehicle and explore the southern Bradshaw Mountains. 



CROWN KING ROAD

Welcome

 How to get there: From the I-17/Loop 101 interchange in Phoenix, head north up I-17 for 33 miles. Take exit 248 (Bumble Bee/Crown King) and turn left. Follow Crown King Road for 1.9 miles to the end of the paved road. Staging is along the paved road and at numerous places along the first 3-4 miles of the trail. The trail: After the initial 1.9 miles of pavement, the road turns to dirt as it heads north. The wide road climbs gentle grades and has numerous washboards for the next 3 miles. Cross over a single lane bridge over Bumble Bee Creek at 4.0 miles. Pass through the town of Bumble Bee at 4.9 miles. Slow down because people still live here although on the welcome sign, you will notice cattle outweigh people here.Cross several dry washes and continue left around a blind turn at 6.2 miles. Stay straight at 9.5 and 10.3 miles as the roads to the right lead to Cordes (good way to extend your trip). 


 

Off to the left at this point is what’s left of the Hidden Treasure Mine. The road sweeps right and then goes left at 11.3 where lesser roads continue straight to more houses. The road crosses over a cattle guard at 11.6 miles as it drops downhill towards the Golden Turkey Mine. The trail then turns back left as you cross over a single lane bridge and cross into the Prescott National Forest. The Golden Turkey Mine has a few foundations that can be accessed via a rough trail off to the left at 12.5 miles.     Crown King Road continues to climb uphill as it passes by more mines on both sides and comes to a high point at 13.0 miles. The trail then briefly drops as you approach Cleator at 14.0 miles. Ignore private residential roads as you pass through the small town of Cleator which has a general store and bar off to the left in “downtown”. From this point on, the road roughly follows the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad bed, also known as Murphey’s Impossible Railroad which operated from the 1890s to 1926. You’ll see several road cuts, switchbacks, and even places where trestles once spanned if you look carefully on the way up to Crown King.    West of Cleator, the road continues to gently climb and pass through several single lane portions of road. Stay straight at 15.2 miles where the difficult DeSoto Mine Trail departs to the right. At 16.8 miles the road turns sharply left and crosses a bridge. Off to the right at this point, way up on the mountain, you can see what’s left of the DeSoto Mine. Off to the left just up ahead is a clearing where Middleton once stood. There was an aerial tramway that hauled ore from the mine down to the railroad to be transported. The road winds more as it climbs higher into the Bradshaw Mountains. Stay straight 18.9 miles a lesser trail to the right leads to the Swastika Mine. At 19.5 the trail turns 180 degrees to the right as you begin climbing the first switchback. A series of switchbacks was used by the railroad to help the train climb into Crown King as it passed through Crazy Basin. Another sharp turn to the left at 20.4 miles.     After the first switchback the views off to your left improve dramatically. After more one land bridges and narrow road cuts, you arrive at the second switch back at 22.8 miles. Turn sharp right. Another sharp left at 23.3. Off to the left at 24.7 is a nice pull off with incredible views as well as access to hiking/mountain biking trails. The trail passes a USFS helipad to the left at 25.2 miles. The trail gets narrower from this point on, crossing over a one lane bridge at 26.5 miles as you suddenly entire the pine forest. Turn right and end in downtown Crown King at 27.1 miles where there is food, lodging and gas available. In Crown King: easily extend your day by visiting the General Store, the historic Saloon (moved piece by piece from nearby Oro Bell Mine), or the Prospector Mall all in “downtown”. For more trails, consider the Towers Mountain Loop that leaves from Crown King, Senator Highway, which continues all the way to Prescott, or the trail to Horsethief Lake. All of these trails are great ways to spend a day or weekend up in the cool pines. 


 Summary/Trail Rating: This trail is just under 60 miles round trip but is easy for its entire length. Allow for 1-3 hours to complete the trail from Crown King and back. Allow for more time for stops. This is also a very high-traffic road. Expect to stop frequently to allow people to pass. The trail is rated a ‘1’ because it remains wide and graded almost its entire length. While the road surface has washboards, high clearance isn’t needed as passenger cars frequently make this trip. 

CASTLE ROCK TRAIL

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