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Name: FR4100 (Johnson Spring) Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Moderate 4WD trail).
Time: 2 - 3 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 5.25 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +862 / -729 ft / +133 ft (roundtrip)
Type: Through trail Avg Elevation: 4400 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: February, 2013
Short Description: A fun connector trail from Temporal Gulch Trail to Bull Springs Road
Geocaches: Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's a few. Madame Butterfly; Temporal Canyon; Carrot Top
Offroad Passport Forum: Click here to join the discussion on Offroad Passport regarding my trip along this trail.
References / Contact Information: J.C. Holmes Mine (claim); Vanadinite; Vanadium
Points of interest: Beautiful and rocky wash, J.C. Holmes claim for rock hounds, open cattle range
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). Lots of old mines in this area, stay away from open mine shafts and be careful of mine tailings.
How to get there: From Tucson, take highway 83 south from I-10. Take a right onto highway 82 at Sonoita. Drive 12 miles on highway 82, then take a right onto 1st Ave (this is immediately after the Patagonia High School). 1st Ave turns into Temporal Gulch Road. Drive approximately 2 miles until you come FR4100 on the left at Waypoint 001. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

Want to combine a great place for rock hounding and a fun 4WD trail? Then FR4100 is for you. It's a fairly short connector trail from Temporal Gulch to Bull Springs Road. This is a great area for rock hounds to collect minerals. You will often see people at the J.C. Holmes claim breaking up the rocks to find a wide variety of minerals. It's also a fun 4WD trail.

Much of the east end takes you through a fairly narrow wash with good sized trees and rocks (most of which you don't have to drive over). Then the trail pops out of the wash and winds its way along rolling hills. Nothing too tough, but you will get some Arizona pin stripping.

Some of the trail seems only wide enough for ATVs and that makes sense. While we were out there, we came upon a patrol of US Border agents. There were about 5 ATVs, each with two agents, then a few on foot with a BIG dog. They were very friendly and as long as you're not doing anything illegal, should make you feel good about them making a presence. This is an area that has high illegal traffic though and you should never go out alone. Take precautions.

The agents told us there were "mining ruins" in the area of Johnson Spring. We didn't see any, but we didn't leave our vehicles either. We were running late and I didn't know what the end of the trail would be like, so we will save that investigation for next time.

The west side of the trail links up with the Squaw Gulch trail, then down to the well-graded section of Bull Springs Road.

General Information and History

The J.C. Holmes claim (mine) can be found along this trail. This is a local favorite for rock hounds. A variety of different minerals have been found here including: wulfenite, hematite, descloizite and vanadinite.

During one of my trips down this trail, I was lucky enough to have a friend along who knows his way around rocks and minerals. He took us down to the claim, showed us how to break apart the rock and what to look for.

Within 15 minutes, he found a few decent sized pieces of vanadinite. They were much to look at as he pulled them from the rubble, but once they were washed, the redish-orange crystals showed up nicely.

Vanadinite is a mineral usually found in the form of red hexagonal crystals. It is fairly uncommon and was first discovered in 1801 in Mexico Belonging to the apatite group of phosphates, it is a dense, brittle mineral. Most vanadinite is used as a steel additive. Used in small amounts, vanadium (which comes from vanadinite) can significantly increase the strength in steel.

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The Trail

From the intersection of the Temporal Gulch trail and FR4100 (Waypoint 001), take FR4100 west. You will immediately head down a short hill. Keep going straight at Waypoint 001a. The road on your right circles around and connects to FR4100 at Waypoint 002, though I have not been on it yet (next trip :-). After less than 1/2 a mile, you will come to another trail on your left (Waypoint 001b). This short trail leads to a small parking area after about 100 yards.

This parking area (Waypoint jcholmes) is where people park who want to do rock hounding at the J.C. Holmes Mine (or claim). The mine can't be seen from the parking area. You need to walk down the steep short hill straight ahead. The mine is about 1/2 way down to the floor of the canyon. It's not a long walk. There were some very faint trails leading to the claim when we were there.

I don't know much about rocks except that they are hard and hurt when they hit you in the head. Luckily, a friend of mine who is a rock hound went with us the time we visited. He brought his big rock hammer and chisel. Within 15 minutes of prying the loose rock away (you can see where others have done the same), he had found what he had been looking for: vanadinite (see description in history section above).

It was really hot the time when we went and after another five minutes, I was too hot (even though he was doing all the hard work) and we decided to leave. I'm sure this is a great place rock hounds or even amateurs to do some rock and mineral collecting. Just make sure it's not at 3 pm in the middle of summer :-).

Once you've had your fill of rock collecting, keep heading west on the main trail. After a very short distance, you will drop down into the same canyon as the one that has the mine on it. Be careful here. This can be the most difficult portion of the trail, especially if you don't look where you're going. One of the Jeeps with me had a moment of confusion and he took the right turn a little too sharply and drove into a big washout.

If I had driven into this I would have probably needed to clean out my shorts, but he calmly waited for us to strap him in to make sure he didn't flip over, then he drove out of his sticky situation.

If you make it past this washout (which is easy if you stay on the road), you'll be traveling in the wash/canyon for a while. This was my favorite part of the trip. At Waypoint 002, keep straight, past the trail on your right. Keep driving down the wash as it curves to the right after about another 1/3 of a mile. There is a Forest Road sign at Waypoint 003 stating FR4873. At the time, it was not clear if there was another road (we didn't see one) or that the road we were on changed. After looking at the map when we got home, I looks like FR4873 heads north and dead ends after about a mile. Again, I haven't been on this trail. FR4100 keeps heading west.

Soon, you will come out of the wash and begin the rolling hills portion of the trail (you will have some short rocky sections in washes a little later). At Waypoint 004, keep straight. The road on the left dead ends after a short distance.

You will come to a large corral on your right when you get to Johnson Spring (Waypoint 005). This is the area in which the Border Patrol said there were some mining ruins. I should have asked him more details, but I didn't. Not sure if the corral were the ruins he meant or there are others not visible from the road. As we were running really late for the day and didn't know what the road conditions were ahead of us, we went through the gate and proceeded on.

At Waypoint 006, keep straight. After looking at the map upon our return, the road on the left goes to a tank and is on the USFS hit list for being "Decommissioned". Go through the gate at Waypoint 007 and you will shortly come to a much more traveled road at Waypoint 008. This is the Squaw Gulch Road. Take a left. You will soon pass by a large dirt cattle tank on your left. And before you know it, you will come to Bull Springs Road (Waypoint 009). Take a left to head back to Patagonia on a well-graded dirt road or a right to head toward Green Valley on a soon-to-be bumpy 4WD road. Your choice!

Be safe and have fun!

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Member Comments

Rough Rider's Trip

March, 2016
We just did this trail with the Tucson Rough Riders last week. Jim Molter of Green Valley (and formerly Moab) led this run In the opposite direction that is listed on your website. His co-pilot actually rode with me for a short while at the back end of the Squaw Gulch Loop and mentioned your name, as he states that they've made a run or two with you. We ran close to 25 rigs through there that day starting from I believe Salero Canyon rd, working to Squaw Gulch and FR4098 and then making our way towards FR4100.

The FR4100 trail was a nice, well used looking trail. Not too tight with brush, so new pinstripes were minimal. We traveled it from West to East and stopped for lunch by a nice watering hole / pond near the west part of the trail. Nice climbs and descents that were just enough to keep kids entertained but were never enough that would require locker use. A few little water crossings and some shady low spots made it nice to make some stops and play around. Found a few cool looking rocks that I could never identify, but I think that anyone could appreciate the uniqueness of the geology and formations. Properly rated at a 2 or 2.5 to date. Stock 4x4 vehicles with radial street tires made it through easily.

We had 3 vehicles break down that day, but none because of the trail conditions. All just bad luck or poor vehicle maintenance. One idler pulley froze up and threw a belt, one clutch slave cylinder sprung a leak and he lost his clutch pedal, and the last was an exhaust hanger broke and strted dragging. Any of these could have occurred on a drive to work. 

Thanks again for your hard work and website. 

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