|NOTE: Details in this table are ONLY for the short road to 96 Ranch and does not include Willow Spring Road or the other short spur roads you may want to take described in the trail description.|
|Name: 96 Ranch||Author's Rating:|
|Author: Matt Marine||Avg. User Rating: (based on one user vote)|
|Type: 4WD||Difficulty: (Easy 2WD/4WD trail to 96 Ranch only) - See description for ratings on other side routes which are more difficult|
|Time: 3 - 5 hours (Only for 96 Ranch)||Region: Central Arizona|
|Length: 9.0 miles (out and back)||Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +2 / -296 ft / - 294 ft (one way)|
|Type: Out and back||Avg Elevation: 3200 ft|
|Best time to go: fall, spring, winter,||Fees: NA|
|Fitness rating: Low||Educational Merit: Medium|
|Danger/fear rating: Low||Scenic Beauty: Medium|
|Hours of Operation: NA||Last updated: February, 2013|
|Short Description: A short easy trail to a cool old ranch with lots of standing buildings|
|Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Black Mountain; Freeman Station; Delta Dawn|
|References / Contact Information: None currently|
|Points of interest: Old ranch; "the bomb shelter"; Rincon Ranch; The Ruiz and Jewell Well|
|Special Considerations: Please be considerate and leave the area in as good or better shape than you found it. Some of the trails are not well traveled. Area can be desolate. Travel in groups.|
|How to get there: From Tucson, drive north on Highway 77 about 5 miles north of the junction of Highway 79 and 77 until you reach Willow Springs Road (Waypoint 01). Click here for directions.2015 Update: If you want to reach 96 Ranch quickly, you can come in from the west side (Highway 79) along 96 Ranch Road (sometimes called Smoke Road) and it's only 9 miles of fairly easy dirt road to 96 Ranch. See Map and GPS pages for coordinates. Click here for directions.|
The main objective of our trip on this adventure was to visit the ruins at 96 Ranch, but there's a number more side trips you can take (even more than I've listed here).
The 96 Ranch is an easy 2WD/4WD road that leads to an "old" ranch. "Old" is in quotes because most of it is not hundreds of years old, only decades old. Still, it's a great site and has several of old buildings you can explore.
One of my favorite was "The Bomb Shelter" or sometimes called "The Bunker". This unique structure is a large underground room built at the top of a hill. It's got a curved stone staircase leading down to it. My guess it was used for the storing of beef from the ranch. Having an underground room would be much easier to cool in the Arizona summers than anything above ground.
Part of me really likes this side trip just due to the name. I love how it's got a "The" in front of "Ruiz" as if it was something like "The Ritz". But it makes sense. Ruiz is a Hispanic surname meaning "son of Ruy". From Houseofnames.com, the Ruiz surname originated in Spain and can be traced back to the Germanic tribes who ruled in the 5th century and were famous.
There isn't too much left of The Ruiz (if there ever had been anything), except for some stone ruins (I believe it was for water containment), a couple of corrals, two windmills (one toppled, the other still standing) and some water tanks. But it's a fun little trip and the drive through the wash was fun.
An easy 2WD off Freeman Road to an old corral and square metal water tank. Yep, I said square. It's one of the strangest tanks I've ever seen. It has rods to hold the sides from bowing out, but they're still bowing. It was about half full when we got there. I think if someone would try to fill it, the tank would collapse.
Tipperary Wash and Jewell Well
This little side trail was the most difficult of the day, but still not too tough. It takes you to an old windmill, corral, tank and well. You will also pass a modern cell tower (I think). We didn't go to the end of the trail due to time. I looked at Google Earth when I returned home and found it ends at a dirt tank a few miles from where we stopped.
I don't have specific history or information on this area. If anyone knows the history of 96 Ranch, please contact me.
2015 Update: If you want to reach 96 Ranch quickly, you can come in from the west side (Highway 79) along 96 Ranch Road (sometimes called Smoke Road) and it's only 9 miles of fairly easy dirt road to 96 Ranch. See Map and GPS pages for coordinates. Click here for directions.
Original way in from the east side. At waypoint 01, head north onto Willow Springs Road from Highway 77. Most of this road is well-graded and is usually in good shape. However, it can get VERY muddy after a good rain.
There are MANY roads and trails that head off in either direction along Willow Springs Road. I have made no attempt at marking them all. Usually, the best advice is taking the most traveled road. I've sprinkled a few GPS points to help you keep on track. There are a bunch of active ranches in the area that are private property, please be careful which roads you take. Also, my Topo map (NG State Series) notes that Willow Springs Road turns into Barkerville Road about 1/2 way through, though it still labels it Willow Springs Road on the street setting.
Keep on Willow Springs Road after 6.5 miles (Waypoint 02) when you pass under the Willow Spring Ranch sign and the trail to the left to the 24 hour race.
Keep straight at the 14 mile mark (Waypoint 03), the road to the left is to Tipperary Wash which I will detail later.
After 17.6 miles (Waypoint 04), stay straight, the road on the right leads to The Ruiz. The same goes for the road at the 18 mile point (Waypoint 05).
At 19.7 miles, take a left onto Barkerville Road (Waypoint 06). Another maintained dirt road. I had wanted to see the Barkerville town site in which I believe there are some buildings (or at least walls) still standing, but it's all blocked off as private property :-(.
Keep straight past the road on left (Rincon Ranch Road) at the 21.3 mile mark (Waypoint 07).
Finally, take a left on 96 Ranch Road after driving about 26.6 miles after leaving Highway 77 (Waypoint 08).
96 Ranch Road should be drivable by any 4WD or a good high-clearance 2WD vehicle (in good weather). Drive west and keep straight after 0.8 miles (Waypoint 09). You will see Beehive Tank on your left.
Keep on the main road as you pass by other trails that shoot off in both directions at 1.28 miles (Waypoint 10), 2.68 miles (Waypoint 11), 3.15 miles (Waypoint 12) and 4.0 miles (Waypoint 13).
You will arrive at 96 Ranch after approximately 4.6 miles (Waypoint 14). First, you will see a few small cabins/ranch houses next to the road. Park here. Off to your right (the north) you will find some of the larger barns/stables/corrals. To the south and southwest, you will find the old tank, windmill, wooden corral and bunker. A MASSIVELY thick concrete tank was also constructed here. It had about 2 ft thick walls. I've never seen anything like it. These are easily walked to. And just down the road (again within easy walking distance), you will find the new house and some additional structures.
I know you can continue driving west along this road, but we turned around and headed back the way we came in.
If you want to go to the other places listed in this adventure, retrace your steps to the main road and head back south toward Tucson.
From Barkerville Road (Waypoint 07), head west on Freeman Road. This is another well-maintained dirt road. Follow this road for about 2.3 miles until you come to a large, open wash (Waypoint 15). Park here (or drive the few hundred yards down the wash) to what's left of Rincon Ranch. Not too much...
There's an interesting square steel water tank. I've never seen one like it before (though we saw another on this same trip). You can climb up the ladder and look inside. It has steel rods that crisscross the center to keep the sides from bowing out. I think if the water was full, they wouldn't hold and the tank would burst. It was bulging a bit when we were there and it was only about 1/2 full. There's also a corral, windmill and large concrete/stone open tank nearby.
We didn't have much time to explore the area, there might be more there than we found. After you're done exploring, head back to Barkerville Road.
From Willow Springs Road (Waypoint 05), head east along a faint trail. Actually, there are two trails that heads east near this location. I believe both end up on the same trail about 1/4 mile east of Willow Springs Road. This is a fairly easy 4WD trail that leads over some small hills and down into a nice wash, which you'll reach after a little more than 1/2 a mile (Waypoint 16).
There's a downed windmill, stone water containment structure and steel tank here. We had a nice lunch here when we went. You can go back the way you came in, or you can head down the wash like we did. I enjoyed this section of the trail the best. You will pass by some nice boulders and a windmill about 1/4 mile after The Ruiz. Then the trail heads out of the wash to rejoin Willow Springs Road at Waypoint 04.
This is the most difficult spur trail of the entire adventure. We didn't take the trail to the end (it ends at a cattle tank a few mile from where we stopped) and it may even get tougher the further you go. At Waypoint 03, head east toward Jewell Well.
The first section of the trail is pretty easy. Bear right after 0.9 miles (Waypoint 17) to head toward Jewell Well. You will reach a large tank and corral after only another 0.1 miles (Waypoint 18). If you want to visit a nice old windmill and take the more difficult way to Tipperary Wash, keep going straight. If not, head back to Waypoint 17, then take a right.
After about 1/4 of a mile, you'll reach an intersection at Waypoint 19, with a trail leading off to your left (going up a hill) and one straight ahead. Take the one straight ahead to get to the windmill (or you can park here and walk).
It's only 0.1 miles to the windmill (Waypoint 20). This trail dead ends shortly after the windmill, so after you're done here, turn around and head back to Waypoint 19. Take a sharp right and go up the hill. It's a little washed out and has some nice ruts, but it's not too bad. Keep on this trail for another 1/4 of a mile until you reach the main road at Waypoint 21.
Take a right here to head down to Tipperary Wash, or a left to go back to Willow Springs Road. We drove less than 1/2 mile on this road (to Waypoint 22) before we turned around. The road had a big washout and we were running low on time. After looking on Google Earth when we got back, I found that it appears the trail continues until it reaches a tank at Waypoint 23 (see yellow track). NOTE: I have not taken this road and do not know it's condition, if it's passable, etc.
We turned around and went back to Waypoint 21, instead of heading back the way we came in, we opted to keep straight and head toward the large building and tower. This road is much easier. It's another 0.64 miles until you reach Waypoint 17, then keep straight as you head back to Willow Springs Road at Waypoint 03.
When you're back on Willow Springs Road, head south until you reach Highway 77 and Waypoint 01.
Have fun and be safe!