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Name: Bull Springs Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on one user rating)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD)
Time: 2 - 4 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 23.0 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +3083 / -2968 ft / +115 ft (one way)
Type: Through Trail Avg Elevation: 4500 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: December, 2004
Short Description: An easy 4WD trail from Arivaca to Patagonia
Geocaches: Not a lot of geocaches along this route, but here's one that's fairly close: Mine Field
References / Contact Information: Ghost Towns
Points of interest: Alto Ruins, Josephine Canyon, lots of other trails to explore
Special Considerations: Trail is located in illegal immigrant and smuggler high traffic area, see page regarding warning (it's not as bad as it sounds).
How to get there: From Tucson, take I-19 south to exit 56, turn left to the Frontage road, turn right on Frontage Rd and travel 3 miles. Take a left on Elephant Head Rd for 1.5 miles, then a right onto Mt. Hopkins Rd. Travel for 4.7 miles until you reach Bull Springs Rd (Waypoint 001) on right. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is an easy 4WD trail that leads to the Alto Camp ghost town. Most of the trail is 2WD, with a little bit of 4WD. It is a good beginner's trail. Lots of places to explore in the area.

General Information and History

Some history on Alto and the Bond family I found at: Ghosttowns.com

Alto is a few miles N/W from Salero in southern Arizona. Mineral wealth in the form of silver was known to the Spanish but due to the Apache's not mined on a profitable scale until the American period.

Josiah Bond was a mining engineer who patented claims in the area in the territorial days. In 1906 he brought out his wife & built her an adobe home, a large one for the time. Minnie Bond became the first Alto postmistress in 1912. The Bonds were blessed with a growing family, Josiah III (Joe), Albert, Hope & Catherine.

One day in the fall of 1922 just a few months after the birth of Catherine, Minnie set out on horseback with her baby snugly wrapped in blankets & a slicker & young Albert to visit neighbors. A sudden storm, typical for Arizona blew in & Minnie & her horse were killed instantly by a lightning strike. Miraculously baby Catherine was thrown free & landed uninjured on the hillside.

Josiah & the children lived on in the beautiful high desert & buried Minnie in a hillside family plot already home to an infant daughter. Josiah would join them later.

He was also a poet;
"With glowing heart, I dedicate this lay to her my wife.
Who coped with all the hopes & worries of this mountain life.
With patience, constant humor, ready wit & glowing love.
The friendly hostess of all living things,
& hand & glove.
With all thats pure & sweet!
& may she all the good obtain,
That can be meted out to mortals & heaven finally gain."

Bond family, front, Joe, Hope & Albert.

Minnie Bond

Family plot, nothing but the ruined rock wall still there at Alto.

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The Trail

It has been a long time since I've done this trail, and I've only been on it once, so my details are not as thorough for this trail as most of the others. Here's what I've got.

The trail starts at the intersection of Mt. Hopkins and Bull Springs roads. Head south on Bull Springs Rd (FR143). There are numerous trails that lead off in either direction for this entire trip, stay on FR143.

At about 3.75 miles you'll cross the cattle guard and into National Forest land. There are some ruins in the area, keep your eyes open for them. We did a little exploring at the Glove Mine (Waypoint 001B).

At Waypoint 002A, there's the remains of an old corral off to the right. Waypoint 003 is at the top of the hill, keep going down the other side.

Bull Springs Mine is off to the right at Waypoint 003A and Alto Camp ruins is at Waypoint 004 (approximately 12 miles from the trailhead). The cemetery is on the left. Alto "Site" as the Forest Service calls it is at Waypoint 004A.

Keep going on FR143 past Salero Ranch and Montezuma's Well and Mine. After about 23 miles, you'll come to Hwy 82. A left takes you north to Patagonia, while a right takes you south to Nogales.

However you choose to go home, have fun and be safe!

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Have you been on this adventure? What did you think? Comments and updates welcome by clicking here. You can also rate this adventure by clicking here.

Member Comments

Easy Trail

December 3, 2012

Nice trail from Arivaca to Patagonia. 1st 3 miles a little rocky (from Arivaca side) the rest of the trail was quite easy. Could likely be done in high clearance 2 wheel drive.

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