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Name: Slavin Mine Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on one user rating)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD), but you must get there through the Cochise Peak Trail, which is rated difficult ()
Time: 1 hr (not including Cochise Peak) Region: SE Arizona
Length: 1 mile (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +325 / - 600 / -275 (one way)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 6800 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, summer, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Medium Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: April, 2011
Short Description: A short, shelf road trail leading off from the Cochise Peak Trail
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. ATV1; ATV2; Middlemarch Canyon Trail 377;
References / Contact Information: Hike Arizona; Arizona Central; Forest Service Trail #332;
Points of interest: Old mines, beautiful canyon, great views from "Top of the World" and access to the Slavin Mine Cabin and hiking trail
Special Considerations: Although this trail is easy, you must first complete the Cochise Peak Trail (which is more difficult). The shelf road is narrow and can be a little scary for those who don't like heights. Limited places to turn around. Best parking is at "Shock Rock", then walking to the mine
How to get there: From Tucson, take I-10 east to exit 331. Take US-191 south 21.3 miles to Pearce Rd, take right. Follow Pearce Rd 4.5 miles, turn left on Middlemarch Rd. Follow Middlemarch to Waypoint 004 (approximately 6.5 miles). Click here for directions. Take the Cochise Peak Trail to "The Top of the World" (Waypoint 001 on this adventure).

Trail Description

This is a great short shelf trail leading from the end of the Cochise Peak Trail to the Slavin Mine. The road is narrow and there's not many places to turn around. An interesting spot is what I call "Shock Rock". This is a great place for a picnic and view the surrounding area.

A short walk from Shock Rock gets you to the mine opening. Along this portion of the trail, you can also see the partially collapsed Slavin Mine cabin in the valley below. Although not a long distance as the crow flies, the trip down from the road is very steep and difficult. It was hot the day we went and we were limited in time, so we decided to skip the hike down to the cabin. Next time, we'll plan for it.

I would recommend parking at Shock Rock (Waypoint 002) and walking the short distance to the mine. There is limited space to turn around at the mine itself.

We did not venture far into the mine when we were there, but we did enjoy a few minutes of the cool Arizona mine AC. We experienced one of the coldest, most energetic breezes coming out of a mine shaft that I've ever felt. On such a warm day, this was a welcome relief.

General Information and History

From Cochisestronghold.com: This rugged natural fortress was, for some 15 years, the home and base of operations for the famed Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise.  Cochise and about 1,000 of his followers, of whom some 250 were warriors, located here.  Sentinels, constantly on watch from the towering pinnacles of rock, could spot their enemies in the valley below and sweep down without warning in destructive raids.  No man, woman or child within a hundred miles was safe from these attacks.

Born in present-day Arizona, Cochise led the Chiricahua band of the Apache tribe during a period of violent social upheaval. In 1850, the United States took control over the territory that today comprises Arizona and New Mexico.  Not hostile to the whites at first, he kept peace with the Anglo-Americans until 1861, when he became their implacable foe because of the blunder of a young U.S. Army officer, Lt. George Bascom.   In that year, Cochise and several of his relatives had gone to an encampment of soldiers in order to deny the accusation that they had abducted a child from a ranch. The boy was later proved to have been kidnapped by another band of Apaches. During the parley, Cochise and his followers were ordered held as hostages by Bascom, but Cochise managed to escape almost immediately by cutting a hole in a tent. Bascom later ordered the other Apache hostages hanged, and the embittered Cochise joined forces with Mangas Coloradas, his father-in-law, in a guerrilla struggle against the American army and settlers. The capture and murder of Mangas Coloradas in 1863 left Cochise as the Apache war chief.   The U.S. Army captured him in 1871 and prepared to transfer the Chiricahua to a reservation hundreds of miles away, but he escaped again and renewed the resistance campaign. The following year after negotiating a new treaty with the help of Thomas Jeffords, his only white friend the band was allowed  to stay in their homeland.

The portion of the Butterfield Stage Line run from Fort Bowie to Tucson crossed just off the northern tip of the Dragoon Mountains.   This line was a favorite target of Cochise's warriors, they killed 22 drivers in a 16 month period.  The Butterfield Stage Line established a station stop on the north end of the Dragoons in 1858.  It was called the "Dragoon Springs" station due to the natural springs located there.  A massacre occurred at this site on September 8, 1858.  On October 5, 1869 a Col. John Finkle Stone, the 33-year-old president of Apache Pass Mine, near Ft. Bowie, headed back to his home in Tucson aboard a mail coach. He had an escort of four soldiers. When they approached the abandoned stagecoach station at the north end of the Dragoon Mountains, a group of Apaches came out of a gully and hit them fast and hard, killing everyone.  (The ruins of the station stand today although the springs were rerouted by mother nature in an earthquake in the late 1800's.)

Cochise is reputed to have been a master strategist and leader who was never conquered in battle.   For ten years Cochise and his warriors harassed the whites by raiding lonely ranches and attacking stagecoaches and miners.  Cochise retired.  He died peacefully on the newly formed Chiricahua  reservation in 1874.  His son, Taza succeeded him as chief.   Upon his death, he was secretly buried somewhere in or near his impregnable fortress.  The exact location has never been revealed or determined. 

The town of Cochise, Cochise County, the renowned geological feature known as Cochise's Head in the Chiricahua Mountains and the Stronghold are all named in tribute to him

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The Trail

The trail starts at the end of the Cochise Peak Trail (Waypoint 001 on this adventure) at the Top of the World. Although this trail is an easy 4WD, you must first complete the Cochise Peak Trail, which is more difficult.

At the Top of the World (Waypoint 001), take a right and head down the hill toward Slavin Mine. You will follow this shelf road for about the next mile. Some portions of the road are narrow and slightly tippy (toward the edge) and those afraid of heights may have difficulties with it.

At Waypoint 002, there's a fairly large parking area next to a very scenic rock outcropping with views of the valley and mountains beyond. We parked here, had a picnic in the shade and walked to Slavin (or Abril) Mine, which is what I would recommend.

Exploring the rock formations in this area, you may find what I call "Shock Rock". I have never seen four shocks embedded in the base rock like this. Very interesting.

You can also see Slavin Mine Cabin down the valley to your left. This building is partially collapsed. You can hike down to this from the mine, but it will be a steep and difficult hike (though fairly short). You can also hike here to the cabin from the official Slavin Mine trailhead along the Council Rocks road.

Walk down the road until you get to Waypoint 003 (less than 0.2 miles). There's not a lot left that is visible along the road except for an old mine: tailings, a wooden A-frame, what looks like a collapsed metal shed and miscellaneous timber. You can find one of the mine entrances that is right along the road and see if there's a cold wind coming out of it. The day we visited, it was very warm and the breeze coming out of this shaft was stiff and cold. Very refreshing.

2014 Update: Abril Mine Chute and Foundations
For photos from this trip and Google Earth images, click here. We took another trip here in 2014 to investigate additional ruins spotted on Google Earth. If you look carefully, above the mine is another opening to the mine and some concrete foundations. The climb up to the mine can be tricky. I went up the rockslide with the cables coming down it and had to use the cables to help pull myself up. Coming down, I was mainly on my backside sliding down on the loose rock. The mine is very cool with openings a various levels.

I also climbed up to the concrete foundations. Not a lot there, but you can see where it supported the A-frame and other items, probably for a tramway.

The main interest for our trip was a long, wooden chute brought to my attention Ernie Parks who runs the Arizona Backcountry Adventures website. The top of the chute is about 1/2 way down the hill from the mine and was constructed in what appears to be a natural rock chute (see map and GPS coordinates for location). The chute itself can't be seen from the mine road, but you can see a section of the rail bed that led to the top of the chute.

Caution: the chute is very difficult to get to and can be dangerous. Use extreme caution. You can try to scale the tailing pile near the mine and concrete foundations, but this seemed dangerous to me. We walked to the end of the road, found a small hiking trail to the large pile of tailings just beyond the end of the road. There's a faint trail leading down the northern edge of the tailings where it meets up with the desert.

You can follow this ravine about 1/2 way to the chute then you have two choices, bear right through the dense brush, trees, rocks and cactus or continue down the ravine. We went right on the way down (I was confused about the exact location of the chute and overshot it).

If you go right (the red line), you will end up on a large rock overlooking the chute. I could only find one way down (unless you're a mountain goat). It was on the right of the large rock. The last section you may have to climb down either on your butt or hand over feet, but it wasn't too bad. Once down, you'll be right on top of the chute.

If you left (the yellow line), continue down the ravine and you will eventually come out on near the rock ledge that once held the rails. You will have to cross the "Bridge (or Board) of Death" to get to the chute. It's really not that bad, but since my pup (Cat-dog) couldn't cross it, I did not take this route. I did, however, cross the "Bridge of Death" to see the cabin on the far side. It's a little scary and you will get hurt (possibly badly) if you fall, but you may not die. The "Bridge" is an old wooden plank or column across a small washed out section of rock/desert. It's about 10-15 down, but if you continue rolling after you hit, you may just go to the bottom of the canyon.

The Chute: It's mostly collapsed, but still interesting to look at. There's a large pipe anchor and cable which helped keep it from falling down up on the ledge. It is very steep climb to the bottom (I did not do it) of the chute. My guess is the ore coming down this would have been going at a good clip!

The Cabins: There are at least three "cabins" nearby. Approximate locations are the blue "circles" on the Google Earth image. Two wooden cabins are located on either side of the chute (you can't see them from the chute itself), tucked away in corners of the large rock feature overlooking the chute. The one next to the Bridge of Death is really hidden by a big tree. I thought this was very interesting. The woodwork and benches were incredible. The third cabin was located during Mike's trek up to the vehicles when he went the "yellow" path. It is just some stone walls hidden in the desert brush.

When you're finished, retrace your steps to the main road and your vehicle.

Middlemarch Canyon Ruins (FR4388)

(Easy 4WD)
This is a super cool and quick side trip when going to China Camp, Slavin (Abril) Mine or Cochise Peak. From the intersection of Middlemarch Road and FR354A (Waypoint mm1), head east along Middlemarch Road for a little over 1.5 miles until you reach FR4388 on your left. Turn left and head up Middlemarch Canyon. Continue up the canyon for about 3/4 of a mile, go through the gate at Waypoint mm2. Keep going for about another 1/2 mile until you reach the ruins on your left. Take your time, there's a lot to explore around here. We found a nice old rock wall, mines, concrete block tanks and a lot of tailings. I believe there was a mill here and the nearby mines all used it. The topo map shows the road continues on for a little while before it dead ends, but it was getting dark and we had to leave. When you're done exploring, turn around and go back the way you came in. Click here to see photos from this area.

Have fun and be safe!

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