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Important update: Although much of the trail remains open, access to the actual Coke Ovens has been closed off. Please respect the signs and gates and do not cross or destroy. I do not know exactly where the private property starts to locate this on a map. Please refer to the BLM website for more information and maps regarding this location.

Name: Cochran Coke Ovens Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on two user votes)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Challenging 4WD)
Time: 4 - 6 hours (this trail only) Region: Central Arizona
Length: 10.0 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +535 / -1179 ft / -644 ft (one way)
Type: Out and back (or loop) Avg Elevation: 2000 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Medium Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: November, 2010
Short Description: A challenging 4WD trail through some incredible Arizona scenery to a set of beehive coke ovens used in the early 1900s for mining
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Coke Ovens Photo Op; Cochran Drift; Stagecoach Cache
References / Contact Information: Expeditions West; Mark D. Stephens; Arizona Backcountry Adventures
Points of interest: Coke Ovens; Gila River, Cochran town site. Awesome scenery and great four-wheeling
Special Considerations: The actual coke ovens may be on private property. Although no signs were present when I went, I have heard that the site is privately owned. I'm not sure where the private property begins. If private property signs are up, please be respectful. May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).This trail is remote and not as well known as Martinez Mine or Box Canyon. Should not be attempted alone or by beginners. Please see Gila River flow information below.
How to get there: The Coke Ovens Trail (Waypoint 001) starts approximately 2 miles from the turnoff to Martinez Mine from Box Canyon. See the Martinez Mine Trail for information on getting there. Click here for directions

Trail Description

Update: The actual coke ovens are on private property and has now been signed and gated as No Tresspassing (these signs and gates were not present when I visited there in 2010). Please be respectful. Do not cross onto private property or destroy the signs and gates. Actions like these not only hurt the property owner, but our sport as a whole. I do not know exactly where the private property starts to locate this on a map. Please refer to the BLM website for more information and maps regarding this location.

This is a spur trail off the Box Canyon / Martinez Mine trails near Florence, Arizona. This rough trail leads south to the old town of Cochran, the Gila river and the “Coke Ovens.” The Coke Ovens are an interesting piece of mining architecture resembling stone beehives. Also of interest are a few of the remaining buildings, cabins and the old town site of Cochran. This is a beautiful and challenging 4wd road that shouldn’t be missed.

The “Ledge” can be challenging to stock vehicles and if you take the optional shorter route later on, there are additional challenges on the trail.

General Information and History

October 2012 Update: If you're thinking about crossing the Gila River, the amount of flow can vary greatly. My understanding is the amount of flow is controlled by the Coolidge Dam, the only major dam on the Gila River. At certain time of the year, the discharge is completely shut off. For the fall/winter of 2012/2013, the dates for the shutdown are: Oct 29 - Dec 03 and Dec 24 - Jan 28. I don't know how much these vary from year to year or what the spring/summer schedule is. I was given a contact name/number of Augie Fisher 520-251-0263 if you want more information.

September 2013 Update: I have heard that the Gila River crossing has been closed off. I have not had a chance to personally verify that, but you may not be able to cross anymore.

There's not much left of the mining camp named Cochran. It was named after its first postmaster, John S. Cochran. The camp also served as a stop on the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway. The town didn't last long. The post office was established on January 3, 1905, and was discontinued on January 15, 1915. At its peak, the town housed about one hundred residents and had a general store, boardinghouse and other establishments.

When you visit, you can find a few building foundations in the town center, a train tunnel and bridge and the remains are a set of five largely-intact beehive coke ovens.

There's dispute on when the coke ovens were built and for what reason. One source says they believe they were built by the Pinal Consolidated Mining Company sometime around 1882. They were used to turn mesquite into charcoal, the charcoal was then used to fire the smelters in Cochran.

Another source (William Fred Jenkins who homesteaded near the area in the early 1900s) stated the coke ovens were built in the 1850s by some Scottish miners. He thought their purpose was to smelt and process the ore directly.

In what could be considered the strangest series of events for the coke ovens past, in the 1980s the coke ovens were repaired for the purpose of using them as guest cottages. The roofs were fixed, windows and concrete floors added and a second level was even added to one. These renovations were never completed and the idea was scrapped, but what a great idea. I would have loved to go out there and spend the night in such a unique structure!

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The Trail

Update: The actual coke ovens are on private property and has now been signed and gated as No Tresspassing (these signs and gates were not present when I visited there in 2010). Please be respectful. Do not cross onto private property or destroy the signs and gates. Actions like these not only hurt the property owner, but our sport as a whole. I do not know exactly where the private property starts to locate this on a map. Please refer to the BLM website for more information and maps regarding this location.

September 2013 Update: I have heard that the Gila River crossing has been closed off. I have not had a chance to personally verify that, but you may not be able to cross anymore.

Note: The time and distance noted above does not include time spent getting through Box Canyon to the trailhead. Expect a full day when of four-wheeling when doing this trail in combination with any others.

The trail heads off to the south and isn’t too rough until you get to Waypoint 002 (about 0.5 miles). This spot, called the Ledge, can be challenging for many stock vehicles. The last time we were out there, a Nissan Extera crumpled his aluminum steps here. The boyfriend was driving, but it was the girlfriend’s vehicle. She wasn’t happy!

Keep going on the trail as it winds it way south. There are some nice steps going down a few of the hills that you’ll enjoy. At Waypoint 003, you can either take on the more difficult route to the Coke Ovens, or keep going straight for the easier route. We did not take this small portion of the trip (highlighted in blue) this trip. You can also access this route a little further on (Waypoint 004).

At Waypoint 004, you’ll once again have to choose between easy and hard. A left will take you down the easier route, a right, the more difficult. We decided to go right. Waypoint 005 is the intersection of the small connecting trail from Waypoint 003. Keep going straight.

At Waypoint 006 is another ledge, we’ll call it Ledge 2. Luckily, you’re going down this obstacle. The left hand pass through this route is easier, but one of our drivers took his Jeep down the right hand ledge. He has a two-inch lift with 35” tires. With some great driving, he didn’t lift a wheel or damage any metal.

Update: The actual coke ovens are on private property and has now been signed and gated as No Tresspassing (these signs and gates were not present when I visited there in 2010). Please be respectful. Do not cross onto private property or destroy the signs and gates. Actions like these not only hurt the property owner, but our sport as a whole. I do not know exactly where the private property starts to locate this on a map. Please refer to the BLM website for more information and maps regarding this location.

Information on the Coke Oven from here on have been removed until I can verify road closures.

Have fun and be safe.

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