the Lower Slim
By: Allan G. Hall
you enjoy hiking, photography and the history and geology of the area east of
Wickenburg, then I recommend a hike down
My Definition of Slim
For purposes of this article, I divide the route into three geographically unequal but logical and convenient segments:
article is confined to
How to Get There
The GPS coordinates provided in this article are listed in NAD27 format: DDD-MM-SS.S. Conversion to alternate reference systems will be up to the reader. All location references may be found on the USGS Morgan Butte Quadrangle, Grid numbers 4-5 and 31-32. See the later section titled “Travel & Hiking Coordinates” for more details.
the way you will pass a shaft of the Texas Group Mine on your right. Shortly after this point, at a distance of
about one mile to your right (northeast) you will also see the Black Rock Mine;
which will be addressed in the next article.
As you proceed along the trail you will come to a cattle gate separating
the grazing leases of the JV Bar and Williams ranches. This gate has been closed each time I have passed
through the area, so I recommend that you close it after passing through. From this point until you reach the creek, I
recommend that you use lower 4WD gears and proceed slowly to help
preserve the condition of the trail.
Upon reaching the creek bed, you will turn left and proceed down (WNW)
4WD and ATV vehicles can travel down the creek as far as the trailhead to the ATOS/George Washington Mine, which departs the creek bed at GPS: 34 o 04’ 34N by 112 o 35’ 47”W (located in Grid #32 of the Morgan Butte Quadrangle). There is modest space to park one or two vehicles without obstructing access to the ATOS trail. From this point forward you should be on foot. Although it is possible to continue a short distance beyond this point on an ATV, doing so virtually guarantees that you will see no wildlife.
Hiking in Lower Slim Jim
Turn left upon entering the creek. You will find yourself in a rather broad, sandy wash that initially heads in a northwesterly direction. At this point the creek will appear to be unremarkable; but this view will quickly change! The creek will become more constricted as you begin a series of bends and turns and you will soon encounter the first examples of the fascinating geology in the creek, as evidenced in Figures 1 and 2.
Figures 1 & 2.
Geology in Lower Slim
and bands of volcanic extrusion rock characterize
the way, don’t stow your camera on the way back out! The light conditions and time of day in
Figures 3 and 4 provide further examples of the rock formations in Slim Jim. These photos show the two most significant granite dikes that cross the creek bed. There are no practical routes around these dikes; so you will need to scale your way up and down them. Each photo view is taken from below the respective dike looking upstream.
Granite Dike in Lower Slim
The dike in Figure 3 is approximately eight feet in height at the point where you descend. There are ample spots to establish safe footing as you climb this location as well as the dike in Figure 4. The vertical height of the next dike is probably closer to twelve feet at the point of ascent/descent.
Figure 4. Additional Granite Dike Formation
A few hundred yards beyond the ATOS trailhead you will arrive at a location that has been fenced off in the creek bed. This is the site of a placer claim that appears to be active, although it is not continuously worked. See Figure 5. I have yet to encounter anyone at this site, but I would urge caution and respect as you pass through the area. As the old saying goes, “Friendly is as friendly does.”
Placer Claim in Lower Slim
fence is actually another grazing boundary line. Up to this point you will have been crossing
Williams Ranch grazing land. There is no
gate at this location so you will have to pass through the barbed wire on
foot. As you pass through the fence to
this placer claim, you will be reentering JV Bar Ranch grazing areas which
extend several miles to the north of the
topology of the lower segment of the creek bed would not have been favorable to
the establishment of mining settlements.
Because it is both narrow and the sides are quite steep, this area is
particularly prone to heavy runoff during the storm seasons. I can easily imagine that miners would have
avoided building houses in this area.
There are settlements in and adjacent to the middle and upper segments
does not mean that
you near the end of
East Tunnel in Lower Slim
Quite near the two lower tunnels there is an inscription chiseled into the rock wall on the west side of the creek. See Figure 7. The inscription shows three sets of initials, “BR-EEC-DH”, and a “cross” or possibly “plus” symbol. No date is included in the inscription, so it is not possible to determine anything other than what the photo shows. Close examination reveals a very fine and precise effort was made in the inscription. Whether this was intended as a memorial to three individuals, or whether it was a “tunnel squatter” with a lot of time on his hands, we will probably never know.
Figure 7. Inscriptions
Vegetation in Lower Slim
plants will include Mexican Poppy, Brittle Bush, Desert Marigold and
Globemallow, as well as many lesser-known species in the creek bed and on the
hillsides. I did not see any Mariposa
Lily this year (2007), but the lack of rain in the past three years is probably
a factor. Naturally, you will see a profusion
of Jojoba bushes and many
If you are seeking views of uncommon species, you will be rewarded with plants such as the Twining Snapdragon vine, as illustrated in Figure 8. This specimen is located west of the ATOS trailhead in the creek and produces blooms from April through October.
Figure 8. Twining Snapdragon
you reach the terminus of the creek at the
Wildlife in Lower Slim
creek bed will contain many tracks of coyotes, fox, squirrels, deer and
javelina in the first half of this hike.
I have seen deer, quail, Gila Monsters, a variety of interesting lizards
and, of course, snakes while hiking through the creek.
Figure 9. Eastern Collared Lizard – Crotaphytus collaris
you are also a bird enthusiast, you will particularly enjoy the areas upstream
and downstream along the
at the junction of the
a rest and lunch, it will be time to head back up the creek to your
vehicle. Changing light conditions in
the wash will reward you with as many photographic opportunities on the return
as you had hiking down. I recommend that
you time your exit so that you will reach
The oldest maps we have been able to locate for this area range from 1904 to 1885. That span of time closely approximates the most significant mine development in this area and the maps show the emergence and disappearance of numerous trails. It is safe to say that many of the trails are more than 110 years old and some can be dated to 125 years or older.
stream bed renews itself after every runoff from storms – it is cleansed (at
least temporarily) of all evidence of human passage. The old mine trails that lead into
Before You Go
of the time of year that you choose to explore lower
Let someone know specifically where you are going before you depart and when you plan to return. If you get in trouble you will have to hike several miles before you reach a cell phone signal!
Bring plenty of water and energy snacks. Depending on the season that you hike, your need for water could vary greatly. Remember that what you hiked “down,” you will be hiking “up” on the way out. Your energy expenditure and need for water will increase. I characterize this hike as “moderate” in the scale of effort required.
Make sure that you are properly hydrated before you start. For the record, I carry four to six pints of water in my backpack for this section of the creek, but I also have additional water in the cooler after returning to my vehicle. During the warmer season you might even consider making a “water drop” somewhere along the hike so that you will have a cache on your way out.
Appropriate clothing, including hiking shoes with good, firm soles and a hat is essential. You might also consider bringing a pair of leather gloves.
Allow a combined travel and hiking time of at least six
hours. If you decide to hike up or
downstream along the
At the time of publication, there is a placer mine claim in the creek bed a few hundred yards downstream and west of the ATOS trailhead. This claim appears to be active, although not continuously worked. This is public land and you have a right to pass through the area. Be courteous and respect the claim-owner’s rights.
From mid-April through September you can expect to see snakes. Be alert.
Don’t become a statistic.
DO NOT attempt to hike this section of the creek if there are heavy
storms in the upper watershed. The drop
in elevation between the peaks at the top end of
Know and understand your own capabilities. If you are a “cool weather” hiker, you may
want to defer hiking in
The sand-gravel mix in the lower creek bed compacts very nicely in dry conditions. If you enter the area with a vehicle after a heavy runoff, I cannot guarantee that you will not experience problems. Be aware of the conditions and don’t overestimate the capabilities of your 4WD or ATV vehicle.
Plan to take photos and leave only footprints. Pack out what you carry in! The
Travel & Hiking Coordinates
As previously stated, all coordinates are listed in 1927 North American Datum, (NAD27), which appears on USGS Quad maps.
Distance from the Wickenburg Rodeo Grounds to the lower
34o 03’ 54”N by 112 o 35’ 04” W - Morgan Butte Grid #4
Entrance to lower
34 o 04’ 26”N by 112 o 35’ 22”W – Morgan Butte Grid #32
Elevation is approximately 3040 ft.
Location of first tunnel in
34 o 04’ 29”N by 112 o 35’ 41”W – Morgan Butte Grid #32
Trailhead to ATOS Mine and second tunnel in lower
34 o 04’ 34”N by 112 o 35’ 47”W – Morgan Butte Grid #32
distance from ATOS trailhead to
34 o 04’ 56.9N by 112 o 36’ 55.2”W – Morgan Butte Grid #31
Elevation is approximately 2520 ft.
If you have any questions about directions or content of this article, please drop me a note via the APCRP web site.
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