Access to Back (East) Side of Empire Mountains

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Sep 16, 2002
Tucson, AZ
Sunday, 19 April. Meeting at Gas Station at Houghton & Valencia at 0830 AM.
If there is interest - we can set up a meet closer to the trail, as well.

Has anyone been into the West side of the Empire Mountains?

Looking at the area from a topo map, there are lots of dirt roads, and "Jeep Trails", but often in reality there are locked gates and private property.

We are planning on heading up through Cienega Creek through "The Narrows", then looping across (to the West) by the Total Wreck mine.

Comments appreciated - other trucks welcome.

Been there years ago. there is a gate off I-10 east of the Sonoita exit that will take you to Total Wreck. Got to check out the mine, You can enter on the east side and pop out on the other side of the mountain (just toss some silt in the passageway when you come to a Y, the wind will lead you out). After leaving the mine I took the gasline road all the way to Cienega creek and the Empire ranch. Parts of the gasline road are damn near straight up and down. Great trip! Note sure about gates nowadays....
We were over on the east side just last week. Had a good time. Lorna & I would like to tag along.

We hope to see all you out there!

We'll still stop at the Valencia / Houghton for gas, then probably get to the La Cienega Turnoff at 0930 AM (we'll shoot for that). We will be on CB channel 5.

Here's a little topo of my plan - something to deviate from.

I doubt if we'll make the eastern loop to Willow Spring, but you never know.

See you there.


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i'm still on the fence. i got stuck in phoenix traffic today, wasted all the time i was going to use today to get stuff done...
Bump to the top.

Hope to see you all out there! The plan will be to try and leave Valencia & Houghton by 8:45 to be at the La Cienega (Western Entrance) by 0930.

Is it "legal" to travel through the Narrows?

When I was in the area a couple of years ago, a serious effort had been made to block access through the Narrows. Is there now a bypass or have the barriers been overcome? The gasline was still passable, but it was hard to tell from the official map whether the gas line was considered a "legal" road through the Cienegas and therefore "ok" to be traveling.
I guess we will try to find that out by driving it. Maybe we'll take a look, and try to run it backwards - at least we should be able to get to the mine.

Appreciate your info. We'll see what we find.

Thanks -

Trip Results

Can any 4x4 trip report not say that the trip was "awesome" or "great"? (In actuality - this one was).

Can any trip that achieves the final objective (the Total Wreck Mine), spends all day driving around in the mountains, and lets you see the unbelivable AZ country side NOT be on the list of "Top 25 4x4 trips in America"?

Well, this wasn't the Rubicon, but we did have a blast, found lots of new country to 4x4 in, and had some exciting, challenging terrain to conquer. The weather was awesome, the trails fun and challenging. A good time was had by all.

Thanks to all who participated.




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Who all made it? Wish I could have, but I did get some crap done around here. Zoe is still kinda sick, but she is getting better.
Made new friends and had a very enjoyable day. Thanks to all.
Jim & Lorna
We had:

Jim & Lorna (FJ Cruiser)
Rocky (Chuck) & Donny - Guest from TX)
Andy & Family (Tina & Lincoln) - Jeep
Chris & Emily - "The Disco"

Alvin - we needed your level-headed leadership. We spent about 20 minutes discussing a water crossing - you would have had us across in about 2 minutes.


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I wish I had gone, but Zoe's cold is nasty. I needed her to rest so she can go to school tomorrow. I got stuff done here plus brewed a new batch of ale.

If that little mud puddle was the subject of your 20 minute conversation, you're right, I woulda just rolled right thru it.
Wish I could have made it also. Did you venture inside the mine?
We took the ridge road up to the top, there was a collapsed series of shafts / shoring up there.

We also wandered around on the eastern ridge, but I really didn't see anything like you were describing with forking tunnels. Maybe it was further to the south of where we were.

There were lots of tailings piles, and gaping holes in the earth, but nothing that we wanted to climb inside of....


Access is pretty good from the Hilton Ranch Road.

I didn't know all this was (at one time) out here.

Total Wreck - Arizona Ghost Town
There (was) a horrizontal shaft on the north east side partially hidden by vegetation (close to the road). The only way I found it, I could feel a breeze coming out. Oh well, something to check out next time.
Wow, that did look like something in it's hayday. Be a cool place to wander with a metal detector..

BTW, those springs look like a great improvement..
Thanks, John -

They came out well. It was a good upgrade. I am very happy with them. I've got 3 flat stock ones in my backyard now for a springover. I just hate to throw 'em in the trash...


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