Sunflower Mine Loop

Fountain Hills, Arizona (Maricopa County)

Last Updated: 07/07/2021
4.8 / 5 ( 6 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 5.92 miles
Highest Elevation: 5403 feet
Duration: About 4 hours
Shape of Trail: Loop
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Fountain Hills
Nearest Town w/ Services: Fountain Hills
Official Road Name: FR201,FR25A,FR3721,FR201A
Management Agency: Tonto National Forest
District:

Highlights

Highlight: Sunflower Mine Loop
Sunflower Mine Trail is a combination of a couple trails that make for a great day in the Arizona desert. The trail works its way through a lush and rocky canyon leading to Sunflower Mine also known as the National Mine. It operated from 1913-1965 mainly producing Cinnabar which is used in the production of mercury and the extraction of gold. The mine also produced smaller amounts of gold and silver before finally closing for good in 1985. The ruins at the mine used to be much larger then they are now. In 2014 most of the structures were removed leaving only a small portion of the original operation. In my opinion the real draw is the trail itself. It offers welcome shade while you're mildly rock crawling your way through Sycamore Wash. You get to push yourself and your vehicle with numerous optional obstacles along the way. The shelf roads may be narrow but they offer incredible views of the surrounding canyons. Be sure to pack for an all day trip because this trail just might surprise you! ATTENTION: THE BRIDGE IS CURRENTLY FLAGGED FOR CLOSURE FOR REPAIRS AT Waypoint 6. The bridge can be used but travel at your own risk!

Video

Route Information

Technical Rating

( DIFFICULT )

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Waypoints

1. Start (3.8 mi)
Stay to the right on FR25A, traveling north uphill at the "Y" junction. You will continue uphill to the narrow shelf road above. To the left is FR25 which dead ends after a short distance but within a short walk to the Arizona Trail that traverses the region.

Directions to Trailhead

ATTENTION: THE BRIDGE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR REPAIRS AT Waypoint 6. From Mesa, AZ travel north on hwy. 87 for roughly 45 miles exiting left, west at the brake check area after mile marker 222. It is the Sycamore Creek exit (FR626), across from the Mount Ord entrance. You continue down the paved road until turning right at the first main dirt road, Old Beeline Hwy. you immediately cross a cattle guard and find staging on the left and right, shortly down the road. Coming from Payson traveling south on Hwy. 87 for roughly 30 miles until coming to the right exit at the brake check area mentioned above. The current GPX track includes the short road FR626 to the trailhead and the connection of FR201 and the trailhead. http://www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

ATTENTION: The bridge can be used but travel at your own risk! THE BRIDGE IS CURRENTLY FLAGGED FOR CLOSURE FOR REPAIRS AT Waypoint 6.

Trail Reviews (10)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
If the creek is running its more like an 8 rating. We were in a group of 11, we had the smallest tires (35) and got hung up many times as did many others. When it’s wet it’s a lot of fun.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Arizona National Forests and State Lands are back open for travel. There are still some very important fire restrictions in place. These restrictions can often change by specific areas.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Tonto National Forest officials will close the state’s largest national forest due to ongoing extreme fire danger beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 25. The forest is implementing this forest closure as a precaution to protect the health and safety of the public, employees and firefighters by reducing the risk of human-caused fires. No one is allowed in the closure area, including Forest Service personnel, unless they are responding to a wildfire or other emergency or patrolling to ensure enforcement of the closure. The order shall remain in effect until July 31, 2021 or until rescinded, whichever occurs first. Residents or businesses using roads in the restricted area to the extent necessary to access their private property are exempt.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
7 Rockers ran this challenging trail today and successfully made it through with only one winching required. This trail is extra challenging for anything long wheelbase such as a Gladiator or Taco. I would not attempt this solo without a full complement of recovery gear. Thanks to some very capable spotters we were able to get a non-lockered JKU through, also thanks to a calm driver with great throttle control. Slow and steady should be your mantra and the most obvious line is not necessarily the best one. More often than not I found that driving up the mountain face put you in the best position for the right angle to the next boulder. Bridge is open and Ice cream truck is still there. With three long breaks and one recovery this trail took us 7 hours. Depending on the size of your group I would add to the expected time. The area was VERY dry so I would be extra careful with campfires or parking positions with hot catalytic convertors. Luckily this area is still open after this Summer's devastating fired. East of Hwy 87 including Mt. Ord is still closed as are areas South such as Sycamore Creek and Log Corral. There was no water in the creek at this time.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail and beautiful scenery. I saw many side by sides make it to the mine easily by bypassing some of the obstacles. No really big obstacles on the loop but you cross the creek several times (only a few inches deep) so wet tires make it more of a challenge. My Jeep did hit armor a few times, mostly on the gas tank skid & rear diff. The bridge was open and we didn't have any issues crossing. Stock, wide and low clearance vehicles will struggle. The trail that goes down to the mine is narrow and washed out in parts; parking is also limited at the bottom. I'd recommend parking up top and walking down. Overall a must do trail.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Very fun trail. If yo stay to the south and only go up to the mine I would call it a moderate trail. On that portion there is one small portion you must drive in the creek with a few large boulders. Now if you go North from the mine, this end of the trail become all creek bed and is difficult. You are going to and some scrapes for sure on that north end. Still very do able as I did it in my bone stock Rubicon, I needed the lockers and driving skills. I would not attempt this in any vehicle larger than a 4 wheel jeep, and you must be running 33s.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Went around the loop today and it was a great drive that took a little over three hours. Nice variety of Mountain View’s and a fair amount of time spent driving along and through a small stream. A few off camber sections and rocky river bottoms. No lockers needed and rigs with decent clearance and 33” tires and up should be able to run the trail without much issue. There are a few areas that tire placement is crucial to avoid dragging axles and low hanging parts. Bridge was in good shape and areas where land slide and washed out trail do exist have good bypass trail available.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
With the rain and snow this is no longer an "easy" trail and definitely don't want to do this by yourself without good recovery gear and winch. I was in. Stock Jeep Wrangler and needed assistance at a couple points. Would say it is definitely a moderate and maybe even a difficult trail at this point.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Always a great time on this trail and plenty of challenges. There were a couple of freshly downed trees blocking our path but we were able to get through. The shelf trail exiting out of the canyon has another narrow washout on the drivers' side. I will be reporting it to the TRAL volunteers to hopefully get a team out to repair it before it becomes too narrow to pass. Our full-width axle rigs didn't have an issue and had room to spare.
Author: Official Crew
Social Media:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This was a great trail that we ran on a Trails Offroad Meetup event. It has a great mix of rock crawling down low in the wash area and epic scenery along the shelf roads at the higher altitudes. Be sure you are built, there are a lot of rocks that can catch your diffs pretty easily.

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: Does the trail still wrap around? (Is it a loop trail)
–mario (09/26/2018)
–Tyler French (11/04/2018)
–mario (09/27/2018)
–Bobby Nelson (09/27/2018)
Q: 11/20/2017 - any word on the bridge being re-opened? It's been alot of years since I last ran this trail and I don't recall there being a bypass for the bridge.
–Rob Woodward (11/20/2017)
–Steven Hartman (04/23/2018)
–Bobby Nelson (11/28/2017)

Writer Information

Bobby Nelson

Mapping Crew - Arizona

While living in the Midwest, I developed a passion for searching out new trails and hidden spots. That passion continues to this day in the beautiful southwestern United States. My wife and I are full-time RVers who travel from region to region exploring every nook and cranny we can find. While we're getting to know the locals, we gain insight into these areas, then passing on that knowledge onto our subscribers. We truly enjoy traversing long, beautiful back-country routes with epic campsites, but we equally enjoy pushing the limits on difficult rock crawling trails. Our rig was built to do everything and that's what we hope to share with our subscribers. Please visit our website https://www.xploremor.net to follow us and for opportunities to join us on our adventures. You can also view our vast video library on YouTube XPLOREMOR. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqvpVThlbR-IwMLX4tlRRcg
For individual use only, not to be shared.