Day four | Crown King and the Swastika Mine

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A mildly challenging trail and an awesome mine

After a good night’s sleep, we woke to prepare some breakfast and pack up camp. Our camp was located near China Dam just north of Lake Pleasant along the Humbug Creek. There was a good amount of water flowing in the creek. Little did we know, 15 miles upstream Humbug Creek would cause us to pull a winch line. Many in the group were excited to experience the back road to Crown King. With huge anticipation, we made our way down Cow Creek Rd. towards the trailhead. The first stop was the Crown King rock for the iconic flexy photo.

We conquered every obstacle as we climbed higher into the Bradshaw range. Soon we reached Burro John and Fort Misery where we met the Humbug Creek for a second time. It proved to be a challenge for the little Ford Explorer in the group who couldn’t get over the slippery rocks. We deployed a winch line and a little tug got him up and over the boulders hidden under the water. It was a good try for the $400 Ford Explorer.

Soon we passed Castle Rock and Oro Belle mine then climbed up the switchback. As we round Watson Peak we get the best views along the trail. You can see Lake Pleasant to the South and Vulture Peak to the Southwest. Bradshaw City is just 2 miles ahead near the end of our route.  
Ending at the Senator Highway we continue east into Crown King. A saloon burger was calling our name so we paid a visit to the well known Crown King Saloon. During this time our Texas visitors admired the old, still working saloon. The saloon displays numerous photographs of Crown King in its heyday. The campsite for the day was under discussion and Ryan had a fantastic suggestion.
Everyone agreed the Swastika Mine would host our campsite. The opportunity for exploration couldn’t be passed up. We set up camp as the sun was setting. Out came the rooftop tents like a synchronized rehearsal of adventurous thrill-seekers. 

A short but fun mine exploration

With flashlights in hand, we set off towards the adit. Ryan leading the way, we followed him deep into the mountain. Coming to a Y we choose to go left towards a huge stope. Huge timbers span the width of the stope secured by large wood wedges. Smaller planks create a bridge that spans the length to a tunnel that continues on the other side. It was an eerie feeling overstepping my comfort zone as I navigate the bridge secured high over the bottom of the stope. After reaching a larger platform at the halfway point I decided enough was enough and turned back to join the group.

Nearly two hours pass before we head back to camp. The night then comes to an end ready for day five.

Kevin Allard
Author: Kevin Allard

Kevin is an American outdoorsman born and raised in rural Arizona who grew up exploring the Arizona backcountry with his father. Today, he and his son travel to the most remote regions of Arizona, scavenging for the remains of early western pioneers. As a lifelong outdoorsman, Kevin has learned to stick close to his roots while engaging in important advocacy work regarding motorized access to public lands. You can find his work in many local and nationwide publications, including The Western Journal, 4Low Magazine, and his website


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