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Organ Pipe Cactus and Mines Loop Trail

Intermediate
 3.0 (1) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

An iconic Sonoran Desert run with a diversity of plants (an abundance of Saguaro cactus), animals, and geology.


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Map Key

10.4

Miles

16.8

KM

99%

Runnable

1,968' 600 m

High

1,565' 477 m

Low

575' 175 m

Up

575' 175 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

17%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Unknown

Overview

There are several access points for this loop or out-and-back options. The trail passes Red Tanks Tinaja, several fenced historic mine shafts, and lots and lots of cactus. Due to the proximity of the international border, it appears the Border Patrol has run 4-wheelers over most of the trails, so there is little singletrack.

Consider beginning this run with a stop at the visitor center for maps, situational awareness, and all the warnings and intel available from the National Park Service.

This loop trail is not in the best shape, mostly caused by 4-wheeler damage, but the changing scenery is what makes this trail a great outdoor experience.

Need to Know

The trail is within the US Fee Area. Permits are available at the beginning of the road to the trailhead.

Description

The Red Tanks Tinaja Trailhead provides the least gravel road driving distance to access this loop trail. The trailhead offers information signs with the mileage between trail junctions and other typical NPS trailhead information. Each junction on the loop is well marked with signs, names, and corresponding distances. Leave the trailhead and notice to your left a dark color flag waving on an extended flexible tall pole waving among the Saguaro cactus. This flag identifies one of the two humanitarian aid water stations you'll see along the trail.

After 0.8 miles, arrive at Red Tanks Tinaja and perhaps there will still be water in the tank. Check out signs of critters digging in the gravel to access water trapped in the tank. If there is visible water, watch out for bees. After checking out the tank, head up the trail to Baker Mine (1.8 miles). Most of these trails were constructed to access mines in the local area and are now used by 4-wheelers, perhaps US Border Patrol.

Head up a fairly steep draw, and over a saddle towards Milton Mine (1.4 miles). The saddle will greet you with a short segment of singletrack. Mexico is visible in the distance, and your cell phone may welcome you to Mexico.

After Milton Mine, the trail is a well-traveled 4-wheel drive road to the Milton Mine Trailhead (1.6 miles). Here you'll find a tall steel lattice tower with a blue LED flashing light. This tower functions as an emergency call station. Push the red button, and likely US Border Patrol will quickly show up to provide aid. Head up the road for a mile, and along the way notice the second humanitarian aid water station on your right.

From the Senita Basin Trailhead, continue up the drainage. There are a few information signs describing the local area and history that are worth checking out. At 0.2 miles, take the junction to the left and proceed clockwise on the Senita Basin Loop Trail. After leaving the Senita Basin Loop Trail, drop in the dry wash and run a mile on dry sand/gravel and return to the Red Tanks Tinaja. This wash is quite a beautiful segment of trail with an excellent display of the desert. Notice a few scattered black plastic gallon bottles in the shape of old bleach bottles. These water containers were likely discarded by illegal immigrants traveling from Mexico. Climb out of the wash as you return to the Red Tanks, and then head backtrack to the trailhead.

Contacts

Shared By:

Matt Freeman

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote

#4625

Overall
  3.0 from 1 vote
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Photos

Humanitarian Aid Water Station amoung the cactus.
Feb 12, 2018 near Sonoyta, MX
An abundance of Saguaro Cactus to be seen along the way.
Feb 12, 2018 near Sonoyta, MX

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