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Name: Rug Road (Carpet Hill) Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on five votes)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Challenging 4WD)
Time: 8 - 16 hours (one way, best done as a two day trip) Region: Central Arizona
Length: 36 miles (one way, Mammoth to Klondyke). It’s another 60 miles from Klondyke to Wilcox on dirt/paved roads. Elevation gain/loss/change: +5267 / -6336 ft / -1069 ft (one way)
Type: Through trail Avg Elevation: 4000 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: March, 2014
Short Description: This is extremely remote, rough and beautiful 4wd trail located between Mammoth and Klondyke, Arizona
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Table Mountain; Carpet Hill Cache; Turkey Creek
References / Contact Information: Hike AZ
Points of interest: Table Top Mine. Parson’s Grove. Turkey Creek. Ancient cliff Dwellings and mining ruins. Beautiful scenery. Challenging 4wd. Some Moab-style rock crawling. Great camping
Special Considerations: Need State Trust Land permit. This trail is extremely remote. Should not be attempted alone or by beginners. No gas stations between Mammoth and Wilcox. I would fill up at Mammoth (though we only used about ½ a tank). Lots of old mines in this area, stay away from open mine shafts and be careful of mine tailings.
How to get there: I would recommend driving this trail from west to east as described below (though it can be driven the opposite direction). The trailhead is at the intersection of River Rd and Copper Creek Rd in Mammoth (see Copper Creek Adventure for details or click here for directions).

Trail Description

This is an extremely remote and rough trail that takes you through some rugged and beautiful southern Arizona scenery. It is best done on a two-day trip camping trip (from Tucson), but can be done in one day if you make good time (expect a LONG day 12-18 hours).

This trail is an Arizona 4WD explorer's paradise: challenging trails, well-preserved ruins, water crossings, deep canyons and incredible scenery - don't miss it!

NOTE: This trail is difficult, rugged and remote. Most stock vehicles will not make it. Although a locking differential is not required, it is highly recommended. My Tacoma would not have made it without one (though well equipped Jeeps can do this with open differentials). My Tacoma is stock (except for one size larger tires) and I hit the underside more than a few times. A good amount of Arizona pin stripping is guaranteed. There are places where the trail can also be very dangerous. Not for beginners. I would not recommend trying this trail on a rainy day (unless you don’t mind body damage and have no fear) and I doubt if this is passable in the snow. [2014 UPDATE: the trail has degraded somewhat since our last visit and is a bit tougher. I made it through in my Rubicon without using lockers, but the two Toyotas with us needed their lockers and a few attempts to make it over some obstacles (this was running it from west to east which is the easy way). I don't believe it would be passable from east to west without lockers. Also, I've been told a person in a Jeep rolled it off Carpet Hill and died. I have seen pictures of the Jeep at the bottom of the canyon, but have not been able to verify or collect many details on this unfortunate accident. All this points out how tough and dangerous this road can be.]

General Information and History

This road was built for mining and ranching between Mammoth and Klondyke sometime in the late 1880’s or early 1900’s. The road got its name from the multi-colored old carpet remnants laid down on a particularly nasty part of the road to prevent erosion and aid in traction. Rumor has it a rancher by the name of Salazar used to drive this road in his two-wheel drive truck and had trouble with this hill. This part of the road (dropping about 700 feet in elevation in about 0.7 miles) is now known as Carpet Hill. The carpet remnants can still be seen today, but do little to help with traction. This boulder-strewn portion of the trail can be very nasty (though someone has filled in the two most severe sections of the trail since I went on it in 2005).

One of the most interesting aspects of the trail are the old mining ruins at Table Top Mine. Due to the trail’s remoteness and difficulty, the ruins here are considerable and in good shape. Take some time to explore what looks like a couple of old boilers, maybe some grinders and some small smelting equipment. Oh, and check out the big safe in the rock building. It looks like it was blown up. Way cool!

Parson’s Grove is another place of interest. If making this a two-day trip, it’s a great place to camp for the night. Parson’s grove has a “modern” cabin and stable. This looks like it was built sometime in the forties or fifties and both are in fairly decent shape. There’s a nice little wash (which had water and ice in it when we visited), big trees and gorgeous scenery.

Some of the terrain between Parson’s Grove and Turkey creek reminded me of Moab, Utah and Canyon de Chelly in northern Arizona. There’s lots of climbing up and down rock faces with large steps with deep canyons on either side. Unbelievably beautiful!

Finally, Turkey Creek was just plain awesome. After spending one-and-a-half days in the desert, you descend into a riparian dream. Huge trees, a flowing stream and tall cliffs on either side. One of the most beautiful places in Arizona. There’s even an ancient cliff dwelling you can visit (it’s one of the best preserved dwellings in Arizona). There are a lot of restrictions on camping and hiking in this area, so do your research before heading out.

We did this trail in late December , but this isn’t the best time to go. It got down to the mid-twenties during the night at Parson’s Grove. Brrrr. The best times to go are late fall, which we did the next year (I’m sure the color change in Turkey Creek would be gorgeous) or late spring (to see the new leaves).

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The Trail

The trail starts off as an easy dirt road (Copper Creek Rd) that winds its way into the Galiuro Mountains to the east (Waypoint TH). Within a few hundred feet on the trail, you’ll see a shooting range off to your left and then a sign in board shortly there after (Waypoint 001). Continue driving on Copper Creek Rd for approximately 7 miles, then turn left onto Rug Rd (Waypoint 002). Zero trip odometer here.

This is where you’ll have to throw your vehicle into 4wd. After about a mile, bear right at Waypoint 003. Drive another 0.6 miles and you’ll see a neat corral off to the left (Waypoint 004).

Drive 0.7 miles until you reach Waypoint 005. The trail off to the right leads to the old Bluebird Mine near Copper Creek. This used to be a really cool place to visit, but it has been gated off. Keep going straight. At Waypoint 006, you’ll reach a small saddle.

Carpet Hill. This is a steep descent of about 700 feet in less than ¾ of a mile. It can have large boulders, slick rock and deep ruts. A significant drop off is on your right my truck’s back end had a heart-stopping tendency to slide out from under me toward this cliff. There wasn’t much I could do. The loose rock was too slick and braking made matters worse, so I just had to keep the truck at a fairly good pace (but not fast by any means), take my lumps (rocks and boulders hitting the undercarriage) and keep going. There were some times when my back end got fairly close to the edge and I was more than a little scared. Near the bottom of Carpet Hill used to be a really bad washout. This is where I’ve seen photos of vehicles flipped over and where a friend almost flipped his truck (going up) the last time we were here. This has been filled in and is now easy to negotiate. At Waypoint 007, you’re at the bottom of Carpet Hill. Whew!

Now, start climbing up to the saddle between Table Mountain and Little Table Mountain. Parts of this climb can also be challenging. There are lots off loose rock and narrow ledges. Don’t get too close to the edge. We had to winch a friend's truck from a dangerous spot last time and I almost got stuck near the same place on this trip. The grade can be very steep and the large rocks loose, when you get near the edge, the rocks just keep spitting out from your tires and you’re sucked toward the cliff’s edge. At Waypoint 008, you’re at the saddle and the highest elevation you’ll be on during the trip.

Keep driving straight on 5015 when you reach Waypoint 011. After 0.1 miles (Waypoint 012), take a right at the wash to continue on 5015. Drive another 0.7 miles (Waypoint 013) and continue through gate. After another 0.4 miles, you’ll reach Parson’s Grove (Waypoint 014). This is where we camped for the night. It took us almost 8 hours to reach this spot from Tucson.

FR 5014 runs along Parson’s Canyon. I have not been on this trail. To continue on Rug Rd, take the road leading up the hill behind the cabin. Continue on this road for another 1.4 miles, then turn left onto FR 5019 at Waypoint 015. At Waypoint 016, the trail splits (but comes back together soon). The trail on the right seemed the easiest. At Waypoint 017, you’ll pass Wire Corral of left. Stay on 5019, past 5016 on left.

Drive another 1.5 miles of rough road until you reach Waypoint 018. This is another great place to stop for a view from the vista on your right. This area reminds me of four-wheeling in Moab and Canyon de Chelly. The trail becomes a little more difficult as you start going up and down rock stair steps. Some nice ones are at Waypoint 019. At Waypoint 020, continue on 5019 through fence line.

Keep straight (past 5019B) at Waypoint 021 (and a little further down the trail). Nice views down into the canyon around here. Some great four-wheeling as you begin your descent into Turkey Creek Canyon.

When you reach Waypoint 022, you’re down in the canyon. The 4wd portion of the trip is done. The rest is a high-clearance truck road. Congratulations, you made it! Turn left onto 5018 and continue down Turkey Creek Canyon. Enjoy the trees, water and beautiful cliffs. After 1.2 miles, you’ll come to the Turkey Creek Indian Ruins (Waypoint 023) off to your left. They can’t be seen from the road, but there are two markers and a well-maintained trail that leads to them. It’s an extremely short hike and well worth the trip. Also a great place to have a bite to eat.

After you visit the ruins, keep going straight through the corral. After 1.3 miles (Waypoint 024), you’ll exit out of Turkey Creek and turn right onto Aravaipa Rd. At Waypoint 025, keep straight onto Aravaipa Canal Rd. Keep on this road for another 7.9 miles until you reach Klondyke (Waypoint 026). Unfortunately, the general store is closed. Keep going straight and follow the main road until you reach Bonita (Waypoint 027), then take a right onto Fort Grant Road and follow it out to Wilcox (another 36 miles away).

That’s Rug Rd. One of the most awesome 4wd trails in southern Arizona!

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.


Tough trail

4/0/12: We completed this journey yesterday and I can only add the following: While this trail is extremely challenging... The MOST challenging part of the whole trail is the boulder sections that begin at the bottom of carpet hill and continue to the top of the saddle. We were on motorcycles, XR650R and XR400. There is just no relief through the boulder sections. There is NO part of the trail that is not completely covered with 4\" to 16\" rocks. When you are forced to stop (which will happen constantly) getting started again is incredibly difficult. We would take turns helping each other get started. It was laborious to say the least. We were cooked by the time we got to the saddle. From there it gets easier but there are still MANY very difficult sections including ledges, drop off\'s and much more boulders ( at least the rock sections become shorter so is does not turn into a death march so quickly).

I do not recommend this trail for a motorcycle unless you are on a smaller lighter bike with a low gear and you are also AT LEAST an expert level rider. ( I ride chiva falls and plenty of other very difficult rides all the time but the boulder sections really kicked my ass... it was down right dangerous because of the fatigue it caused).

This trail is good for a really built 4wd crawler or a side by side like a ranger or a rhino. The larger quads we saw also did well. A friend of ours broke his axle housing right next to the differential on his early nineties Jeep Cherokee  on the climb to the saddle, We realized it was cracked halfway down carpet hill. He did make it out the second day... but did need to use straps to pull the axle together so the splines did not slip out.



Did it one day!

10/12/2011: Great trail, we did it all in one day (phx to phx), not enough time to explore. Gonna do it again soon, two days this time.

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