Jack Millers Cabin Via Martinez Canyon
ElevationAscent: 2,711' 826 m
Descent: -2,711' -826 m
High: 2,904' 885 m
Low: 259' 79 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 13% (8°)
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“A fantastic desert run that has a little bit of everything.”— Pete Kirkham
Long sleeves, a hat, sunscreen, and long pants are highly recommended for this run. I also had a pair of gloves for the brush sections. Almost every plant in the desert wants to rip your skin apart; be warned (a pair of tweezers are also highly recommended just in case!). Depending upon the time of year, I would recommend taking a headlamp also.
I rated this trail as Intermediate/Difficult due to the rocky/loose sand surface you'll be running on and the overall unforgiving terrain you'll be venturing through.
Do NOT try this trail after April and probably before October as you'll be ascending/descending from 600 feet to approximately 2,900 feet in the desert!
Depending on where you park in the desert wash, the first 4 miles are basically a sand slog on the jeep road into the actual Wilderness canyon area. A 4x4/high clearance vehicle is extremely desirable to get you as close as you can to the actual signed 'trailhead'. The further you can drive south, from the paved 66th St./Van Buren St. junction, through the farm fields and then the desert wash, the less you'll actually have to run!
Once you get into Martinez Canyon proper you cannot really get lost. However, previous cross-country navigation and travel experience is recommended by at least one person in your party! Also, a map of the area and a GPX file would be extremely helpful. Remember, this is not a trail per se; you'll be running in a rocky and sandy desert wash.
You'll need a lot of water along with electrolyte-type replacement fluids and food to complete this trail and to stay in decent shape to complete it. You do not want to start cramping ten miles in. As an experienced wilderness hiker and ultra runner, it still took me 8.5 hours to cover the 21 miles RT to the car parked in the wash. That's an average of 3 miles per hour. Also bear in mind there is approximately 2,900 feet of elevation gain/loss on this trail.
There is one area in the canyon, about 7 miles in, that is almost completely blocked by cottonwoods, tamarisk, catclaw and bamboo vegetation. On the way up the canyon, just stay as far RIGHT as possible... in some places you'll literally be hugging the rock cliff face and/or climbing small shale rock ledges to miss the worst of the vegetation. Do NOT go to the left or try to go through the middle of this brush as you'll get torn apart. Once through the first major brush section you'll hit another, much less dense, section within a half mile up canyon from the first section. The best way to navigate this area is to stay LEFT. Obviously, you reverse these instructions as you return DOWN canyon.
About 10 miles in, not far from the cabin, you'll come to a couple of rock (dry) waterfalls. These are easily navigable with a little bit of scrambling. Once you reach the cabin there is quite a bit to see and investigate. It is quite hard to imagine living in such a remote location. Don't forget to sign the register book on the table inside. Congratulate yourself as this place doesn't see many people!
Apparently, Jack Miller built a road up the canyon, back in the day, but it washed out in a big flood in 1976.
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