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Name: Anderson Mill Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 2WD/4WD trail)
Time: 3 - 5 hours Region: Central Arizona
Length: 16 miles (out and back loop) Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +1780 / -1780 ft / - 685ft (out and back loop)
Type: Out and back loop Avg Elevation: 2600 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: April, 2013
Short Description: An easy 2WD/4WD to a unique Rube Goldberg type mill and an old homestead site
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area: San Domingo Cache; Crack in the Rock; Black Box
References / Contact Information: Wickenburg Az; Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project; AZOffroad.net;
Points of interest: Anderson Mill, Underwood graves and miner's homestead
Special Considerations: Lots of old mines in this area, stay away from open mine shafts and be careful of mine tailings.
How to get there: From Phoenix, take I-17 north until the Carefree Highway (exit 223B), then head west toward Wickenburg for 29 miles. Take a right onto Castle Hot Springs Rd. Drive for 2.5 miles until you reach Waypoint 001. Take a left onto the dirt road to begin the adventure. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

The Anderson Mill site is a unique, Rube Goldberg mill in the foothills of the Wickenburg Mountains. This mill is well-preserved and looks like the owners used any scrap metal around to build it. Actually, it looks more like a metal art junkyard sculpture than a once working mill.

The drive to the mill is easy 4WD and passes many small, active mining claims. At first, you'll travel along the Little San Domingo Wash (or at least along the side of it). Eventually, you'll end up in the much larger San Domingo Wash.

You can also visit the Underwood miner's homesite and graves a little farther up the wash. The area has some nice big trees and is a good place to get some shade if you want it for a picnic.

During the spring, wildflowers can dot the hills creating beautiful splashes of color in an otherwise seemingly colorless landscape.

This adventure is one of my favorites for a number of reasons. One, I have never seen anything like the Anderson Mill. Two, the easy rating makes it great for beginners or those looking for more of a historical trip than one requiring lots of skill. Three, there's a large RV staging and camping area along the trail. Many of the ATV riders will greatly appreciate that. And, four, there are numerous trails leading off in all directions that you can explore.

General Information and History

From the little information I was able to gather on the area, the Anderson Mill was run by two brothers around the World War II time period. The mine (and mill) produced muscovite mica and was operated until the 1950s.

The Underwood graves and miner's homesite has some conflicting history to it. Most people say that the now collapsed homes were those of the Underwoods. It seems logical since their graves are prominent in the area. But other stories say that the Underwoods were avid hunters and hunted/camped the area for over 50 years and wanted to be buried in the place they enjoyed so much. These stories also state, that the building remains are from a miner who worked some of the claims in the area. He was also rumored to have been murdered, his body dumped in a nearby mine shaft.

If you have any additional information, please contact me.

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The Trail

Note: I do not give waypoints to all these trails. Usually, the most traveled one is the correct one.

From Waypoint 001 on Castle Hot Springs Rd, head north on well-traveled trail. This dirt road is usually 2WD, large motor homes and RV's use it to get to the RV staging and camping area about 1/2 of a mile north (Waypoint 016). Unless you're dropping off your RV, take a right onto Little San Domingo Wash after 1/3 of a mile at Waypoint 002.

Travel in (and along side) the wash for 1.3 miles and keep straight past road on the right (Waypoint 003). Drive 0.6 miles and keep straight past road to the left (Waypoint 004). Keep driving for another 1.6 miles until you reach Waypoint 005, then keep straight at the small intersection.

Follow the road northeast for 0.75 miles (Waypoint 006). Keep straight. Keep on the main road after another 0.18 and 0.37 miles, Waypoint (007 and 008, respectively) and you'll be at the San Domingo Wash.

Take a right into the wash and drive the 0.3 miles to the Anderson Mill on your left. You will actually come to a small well, cattle trough and water pipe crossing the wash just before the mill (Waypoint 009).

You can park at the base of the mill. There's also a road that leads to the top if you want to take it (the most direct route is very steep, the route to the right is much less steep).

Now, go off and explore this wonderful piece of architectural history. BEE CAREFUL! Yes, that was an intentional "Bee". When we visited the site, there was a large bee hive near the bottom of the stairs (we had heard about this and were cautious in our approach). Only one of us climbed the stairs (no one was stung). Also, be careful climbing around on the fragile and possible not structurally sound building. This place was thrown together with what looks like anything they had laying around. Some of it isn't too stable.

You can see the large belts they used to drive the equipment. At the top of the mill there's a large screening drum. The view from the top is very nice. I was too chicken to climb all the way up. It's a long way down, not a lot to hang onto and I'm scared of heights.

When you're done exploring this area, you can keep heading up the wash to visit the old Underwood homestead site and graves. Keep heading up the San Domingo Wash for another 1.4 miles until you come to some large trees, well and graves on your left (Waypoint 010). There's also some collapsed remains of some buildings and an outhouse.

With the large trees, this place can be a nice place for a picnic lunch, that is if you don't mind eating right next to the graves.

You can continue up the wash for some more adventures (there's almost endless places and trails to visit - some of which I hope to detail out soon) or return the back down the wash toward the mill again.

When you're ready to return, drive down the wash until you come to Waypoint 008. Another choice here. You can return exactly the way you came in (fastest way to return), or keep heading down the wash for a while until you come back out of the wash and head south toward the RV staging area.

If you decide to take the wash, drive southwest for 3.5 miles (very smooth and fast) and keep going straight in the wash as you pass the road on the right at waypoint 011.

After another 0.5 miles, you will come to the "Hole in the Rock" on the left side of the wash at Waypoint 012. This was an interesting place to get out and stretch our legs.

Keep driving down the wash for another 0.44 miles and you will see what I call the "Crappy Shed" to your left (Waypoint 013). It's just sort of a crappy little shed built out of crappy leftovers. Probably not worth stopping for unless you're interested in crappy little sheds.

1.6 miles further down the wash are some rock foundations and well in the thick trees to your left (Waypoint 014). These were slightly more interesting than the crappy little shed, but not too much more. If you're not looking for them, you will pass right by.

It's only another 0.3 miles before you take a left out of the wash at Waypoint 015. Did you have a good time down that wash? I know I did. It was smooth and quick. Now, what you're left with is the opposite. Slow and bumpy. Not difficult, just very rough. Drive 2.7 miles down this bumpy road until you reach the RV staging area at Waypoint 016. You can also see the American flag built out of painted rock on the side of the small hill nearby.

From there, it's only 0.2 miles until you're back at Waypoint 002 and the Little San Domingo Wash. For me, although I really enjoyed the run along the wash, the last 3 miles were so bumpy, I'm not sure I would do it again (I would probably come back the same way that I went in).

To complete the trip, drive the last 0.38 miles until you reach the trailhead at Waypoint 001.

Wasn't that fun?!

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