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Name: Jackson Cabin Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on three votes)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD) Maybe worse, see member comments
Time: 6 - 8 hours (this trail only). Expect a 16 hr day from Tucson Region: SE Arizona
Length: 13.3 miles (one way). Add another 30 miles of dirt road from Wilcox (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +2256 / -2057 ft / -199 ft (one way)
Type: Out and back 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: December, 2007
Short Description: An easy (but very long) 4WD trail to a historic cabin
Geocaches: Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Jackson Cabin Cache; The Lone Ranger Cache; Dinosaur Tracks
References / Contact Information: Nature Conservancy Muleshoe Ranch;
Points of interest: Jackson Cabin, small natural bridge, Muleshoe Ranch, Hookers Hot Springs, access to hiking trails #289 (West Divide) and Powers Garden (#96).
Special Considerations: Very remote. Expect a LONG day. Muleshoe Ranch (and Hookers Hot Springs) owned by the Nature Conservancy and casitas can be rented for the night (though I have called them a number of times and have never received a call back). See update in comments below.
How to get there: Take I-10 to Wilcox, then expect about 30 miles of dirt road (usually graded smooth) to get to Hookers Hot Springs. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

September 2014 Update: See Muleshoe Ranch's response in comments below.

This is an easy (but very long) 4WD trail that ends up at a rustic old cabin. The scenery is nice and there's some interesting cabins along the way. You'll also see a small natural bridge. Expect a LONG day coming from Tucson. It may be better to stay in Wilcox (though your day will still be fairly long) or at the casitas at Muleshoe Ranch (if you can get the Nature Conservancy to call you back :-). The areas is rich with desert life and with seven permanently flowing streams, it has a lush riparian habitat.

General Information and History

The area around Muleshoe Ranch and Jackson Cabin is rich with history (some of it not so pretty). In 1884, the first owner of Muleshoe Ranch, Dr. Glendy King, was killed in a land dispute by his neighbors, Melvin Jones and Ed Drew.

A year later, King's ranch was sold at auction to Colonel Hooker. Hooker added this ranch to his Sierra Bonita property and hosted many visitors from the east. One of these was the famous American playwright, Augustus Thomas. Thomas wrote a stage play called Arizona that appeared on Broadway in 1889 which was based on Colonel Hooker and his daughter-in-law, Forrestine. The play became a novel and movie called 'Neath Arizona Skies, staring John Wayne in 1934.

Ed Drew and Melvin Jones had a dispute and decided to split ways. Ed's sister, Cora, was known far and wide as an exceptional horsewoman and was offered a spot in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show. Her mother did not allow her to accept the offer, believing the show was not a proper place for a girl of just sixteen.

Ed and his family were active in the area. Ed was a champion rodeo rider for many years and then was elected sheriff of Graham County. He was killed in a saloon gunfight in 1911.

Another interesting aspect of the area was that Johnny Boyett, the foreman of the Hot Springs Ranch in 1900, gunned down Warren Earp in a Wilcox saloon gunfight. Warren was one of the infamous Earp brothers who made their mark on the nearby town of Tombstone.

In 1935, the property which was then known as Muleshoe Ranch, was purchased by Mrs. Jessica MacMurray. She and her companion, Mrs. Patterson, lived there in solitude for a long time. Mrs. MacMurray told Mrs. Patterson she could build a small cottage on her grounds. I guess they had different ideas on what a "cottage" was. While Mrs. MacMurray was away touring Italy, Mrs. Patterson built a massive stone building with ten rooms, private hot tubs and a swimming pool. Mrs. Patterson was immediately given the boot (though she was also given the dead to the original Drew Ranch as compensation). This "cottage" still stands next to the new Nature Conservatory headquarters.

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The Trail

Expect it to take you at least an hour to get from Wilcox to the trailhead. This is if the dirt roads are in good shape (they were when we visited the area).

The trail starts at the site of the old Muleshoe Ranch, which is now owned by the Nature Conservatory. The casitas and hot springs are available for guests of the Nature Conservatory. Please sign the log at the start of the trail.

The first few miles of the trail are well-maintained and easily traveled by any stock 4WD vehicle. The trail is easy to follow, just stay on the main road. You will go between private and public land a few times on this adventure. Please respect private property.

September 2014 Update: It looks as though this building was demolished (see comments below). At Waypoint 006, you will see Pride Ranch Cabin just to the left (I hear this is also available for guests). Keep driving on the main road. At Waypoint 011, you'll see a small natural bridge off to your left. This is a great place to stretch your legs and take a picture!

The Galiuro Mountains off to the right offer nice cliffs and rock formations. These were so beautiful as we came out during sunset, painted warm oranges and reds.

You will cross the wash a few times (it was partially frozen the day we went) and head down into Sycamore Canyon (Waypoint 014). There's a short, 1/2 mile climb to the saddle (Waypoint 015), before heading back down into Jackson Canyon.

Jackson Cabin (and a few outbuildings) are located at Waypoint 017. You can also access Powers Garden Trail and the West Divide Trail here. When you're done exploring the area, retrace your path back to Wilcox.

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

Muleshoe Ranch Responds

9/14/2014: I read your comments on your website and please accept my apologies that no one called you back regarding your casita rental inquiry. Our phone system here is less than ideal and often times messages are unintelligible. With no caller ID, we are unable to return calls. Our voice message now says to please email us. :O)

Regarding the information you have on your site: Jackson Cabin and Pride Ranch are no longer rented by The Nature Conservancy. The public is welcome to enjoy on a first come first served basis. Pride Ranch had been demolished several years ago due to vandalism. The road to Jackson Cabin is passable with 4 wheel drive, but it is a rough go.

The Nature Conservancy still rents casitas, but only 11 weekends a year and only to members of The Nature Conservancy. Headquarters is now closed to the public, however parking for hiking trail access only (no off road trailer parking) is available on weekends just outside the main gate. If anyone has any questions, they are welcome to call 520.212.4295 or (preferred) email muleshoe@tnc.org

Thank you!!


Terrie Day
Guest Services
The Nature Conservancy at The Muleshoe Ranch Preserve
6502 N Muleshoe Ranch Road
Willcox, Arizona 85643

Great Place!

November, 2011

Great trail, took me about 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach 13.5 miles.  Turned around at the entrance Redfield Canyon wilderness.  Thanks for a great description.  I have a 2004 Liberty 4x4 Stock Jeep and had no problem with any part of the trail.  Next time I plan on doing an overnight trip.

Road "improved"

March 10, 2012

We just completed the trip  on 3/10/12.  Beautiful, but the road had been recently bladed. It seems that they bladed all the loose rocks (baby heads) to the middle of the trail.  It is no longer an easy 4wd trail.  There is 1 hill on the way out approx 5 miles out that is a few hundred yards long, steep, and very loose.  unless you have good tires, enough ground clearance, low range and traction control or lockers--I would advise against it.  They messed up the road that bad.  If you do have the right vehicle you will be rewarded with crazy beauty in a remote place.  Good luck and God Bless!

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