This trail is just out of Apache Jct. on SR88 (The Apache Trail). Turn off just before mile marker 204 and park in the parking area. This is also known as one of the entrances to Bulldog Canyon in the Goldfield Mountains. Just behind the locked steel gate is the trail. If you have the lock combination to the gate and are driving an off road vehicle then you have miles of 4X4 road to explore ahead of you. If you drove your car to the trailhead you get to hike the rest of the way.
There are no trail signs anywhere but in the trail guide I read this is suppose to be the jump off point for Golden Eagle Nugget Trail which will take you to the Golden Eye Mine trail and somewhere around here is the Javelina Mine trail and the Quartz Crystal Arroyo trail. Sounds great in that trail guide but all I found out here is ATV roads. Driving a jeep or some other four wheeler on these roads is fun but hiking them gets monotonous.
Right ahead of the steel entrance gate looking North West is a prominent rock outcrop and the trail/road heads that way. Very soon the road splits. Go right takes you to the north of this butte. Go left takes you south of this butte. I went right because whenever I am faced with a situation like this and don’t know or don’t care I automatically choose right. Sounds better to me than getting left for some reason.
Right away there are old boundary markers for old mining claims. I hiked about one mile then cut left through a wash, up a little ridge and followed another arroyo back toward that prominent rock butte. My plan was to circle the thing and make a loop back to the parking area.
Here is where my hike got interesting. I ran into mining claim corner markers all over the place. They are old weathered 3”x3” wood stakes with aluminum tags nailed in the tops. The tags are inscribed with claim information. I found NW corner Gold Finder #2 and Willow Springs # 1 and #2 to name a few. There is no noticeable digging or recent mining activity that I could find but if you still own these claims I want you to know all I did was walk through. Didn’t pick up one lousy rock. Hope you’re cool with that.
Cutting across country is way more interesting than staying on the road or trail back here. Besides mine claims the place is crisscrossed with game trails. Mostly javelina, judging by the tracks and the poop. I even found a few shallow caves that must be the grand javelina hotel because the ground in them was completely covered with fresh tracks and poop.
I found an interesting rock formation up high on the south shoulder of the butte, sort of looks like a big eye and found a couple little arches.
I dropped back down to another road on the south side of the butte and took it back to the parking area. On the way I passed a guy hunting nuggets with a metal detector. He was intent on his work and I’m sure never even suspected I passed within 30 feet of him. Yeah he would have been a snap to dry gulch.
All in all this was a great way to spend three hours, especially since the temperature never got over 80. I don’t know what trails I was on but the Goldfield Mountains deserve further exploring. Some day I might buy a good map. At least then I’ll know where I’ve been.
Will was here 10/27/2011