“This rough abandoned mining road eventually turns into some nice singletrack leading to Cardiff Pass.”
— Tomsen Reed
This trail can be pretty rocky in places, so choose your footing carefully. Also, once the trail crosses over the pass into Mill D South, the trail goes over a decent amount of private property, so stay on the trail. There is an agreement between the landowners and the Forest Service currently that people can access the land as long as they are not using motorized vehicles and stay on the main trails and roads.
The beginning of this trail actually starts on a paved road past some residences but pretty quickly turns into a pretty rough, rocky dirt road that climbs quickly toward Cardiff Pass. The road appears to be an abandoned mining road with all of the loose rock that covers it in places, but in many places the trail is pretty decent. As the trail gets higher, it gets somewhat steeper (after about 3/4 mile) until it comes out into a small, pretty meadow where the trail more or less levels out briefly, and then starts to ascend steeply again. The last few yards are a sort of scramble as the trail crosses over some rock before reaching Cardiff Pass. From Cardiff Pass, the Mt. Superior Trail
can be taken to Mount Superior and Monte Cristo, two great peaks along the Cottonwood Ridgeline.
Another option from Cardiff Pass is to cross over the ridge and descend down into Mill D South. This is a similarly steep and rocky trail, but appears to be less frequently used as the trail can be hard to follow at times. However, the views all around in this beautiful canyon make up for the confusion. The trail generally trends to the west and above the natural drainage in the canyon but crosses a few of the ephemeral streams on its way down.
About 3/4 of a mile down, the trail descends down close to the main drainage and follows it for a short distance until it meets up with an old mining road and then follows that road down until it passes by an old mining site and meets up with the main Mill D South Fork