Backpack Trip into the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness Arizona


In March of 2008, I talked my brother in law Neil into traveling with me up to the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness north of Alamo Lake in central Arizona. The lake and wilderness area are about 100 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. I had been looking over maps of the area for interesting mines to go see and had noticed a listing for the Antler Mine. The mine was at the end of a long dirt road that started near the upper end of Alamo Lake. Since the area was now wilderness, I thought that travel to the mine might be somewhat restricted and that there might still be "stuff" to be seen around the mine.

Our plan was to drive to the start of the mine road as close as we could. Then we would hike the road approximately 10 miles to the mine and look the area over. As it turned out, getting to the start of the old mine road was both physically and legally impossible to do. We finally found a place back from the wilderness boundary that we could get close to the banks of the Santa Maria River. Our plan B was now to wade the river and then head diagonally to the northwest to intercept the mine road and proceed from there. It was VERY difficult getting through the brush that lined the banks of the Santa Maria River. We were not fortunate enough to locate any donkey or game trails to get us through. After brush busting, for a very long time, we finally did break through and made our way to the road. From that point on the walking was easy. We spent the night in a sand wash about 5 miles up the road.

The next day we left our camp set up and day hiked up to the mine. The mine itself was disappointing as far as seeing relics and equipment. I certainly expected to see much more development--someone had spent considerable effort(and money) to put in the long road to the mine. For some reason, things didn't seem like they had panned out. But the desert country was great! We located a source of water and were able to spend a second night in the wilderness. The third day we followed the road back to the Santa Maria River. Once again we had to fight the brush, but the spot that we chose to cross was not as thick as on the first day and we soon escaped, waded the river and returned to our vehicle. In summary, we had not found much in the way of mining equipment, but we had seen some new country and the 20 mile walk probably did us some good as well.

(Click on photos to enlarge)