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Welcome to
Crown King and Horsethief Basin

This tour will take you from the Bumble Bee exit off Interstate 17 to Horsethief Basin, one of the most popular recreation areas in central Arizona.  On your way to Crown King, you will pass Turkey Creek siding - now known as Cleator - past Crazy Basin, Middleton and Alexandra, all the while skirting the Castle Creek Wilderness Area that offers several hiking trails.

Welcome


Driving past Crown King, it is 5.5 miles to Horsethief Basin recreation area, which offers three different campgrounds, numerous hiking trails, and Horsethief Lake offering boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Don't forget to pack a lunch (and your binoculars!) and enjoy the view at the Horsethief Lookout picnic area.


View Larger Map 

Recommended Maps:

  • Prescott National Forest Map

  • USGS 7.5 - Maps:

    • Battle Flat

    • Black Canyon City

    • Bumble Bee

    • Cleator

    • Crown King

 
Mile: 0.0 - Landmark: I-17 AND THE BUMBLE BEE EXIT

Travel on the Bumble Bee Road until it reaches 28 miles to Crown King.

Mile: 5.0 - Landmark: BUMBLE BEE

Mile: 11.0 - Landmark: PRESCOTT NATIONAL FOREST BOUNDARY

Mile: 12.5 - Landmark: TOWNSEND BUTTE

To the right is Townsend Butte.

Mile: 14.0 - Landmark: CLEATOR

About 100 years ago, the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad climbs the mountains to Crown King. Cleator began as Turkey Creek siding. The railroad, during 1903, talked of building a branch from Turkey Creed siding to Phoenix. James P. Cleator promoted a new town there at Turkey Creek siding. Ore came from several surrounding mines to be loaded on the trains.

Mile: 16.0 - Landmark: CRAZY BASIN

They call the area Crazy Basin. The high peak to the north is S A Hill. Traveling to Crown King, the land on the left side of the road contains the Castle Creek Wilderness Area. A 0.5-mile to the south is Poor Man�s Gulch. (Up to milepost 27, the east side of Yavapai Route #59 is the wilderness area.)

Mile: 17.0: Landmark: MIDDLETON

Here you find the old town site of Middleton. Above the old town site are the DeSoto mines. George W. Middleton promoted the Copper Cobre Mining Company. The Bradshaw Mountain Railroad opened a station in 1903 to serve the DeSoto mines. A 4,000 - foot tramway brings 300 tons of copper ore daily to the siding.

Today, you can see the remains of a few tramway spires dotting the hillside.

Mile: 20.0 - Landmark: ALEXANDRA

You need to leave Yavapai #59 and travel 2.0 miles west on a jeep trail.

Mile: 26.0 - Landmark: FOREST TRAIL #225

See Mile 30.5, this tour, for trail information.

Mile: 28.0 - Landmark: CROWN KING

You will find Grover's Switchback Saloon and Grill, The Saloon, Crown King General Store, Crown King Crafts, the Prospector Shopping Mall, Crown King Realty, Fire Department.

Mile: 28.5 - Landmark: INTERSECTION OF FOREST ROADS 52A AND 52

You continue south on Forest Road #52 toward the Horsethief Basin Recreation Area. Forest Road #52 (The Senator Highway) goes west toward Prescott.

Mile: 29.0 - Landmark: WASSON PEAK

To the west is Wasson Peak.

Mile: 30.5 - Landmark: FOREST TRAIL #225

From here, you climb down into Hell's Hole and follow Trail #225 northward. A reminder, this is a wilderness area. The forest service only allows hiking and horseback riding --OK, OK. � if there is enough snow, the National Forest allows cross country skiing and snow shoes.

Algonquin Trail-225
This trail lies within the Castle Creek Wilderness and offers panoramic views. The name came from the Algonquin Mine established in the early 1900's near Hell's Hole. The trail passes the mine location.

Trailhead:
From Crown King take Forest Road #259A south and after 0.5 mile you come to the Forest Road #52 intersection. Continue on Forest Road #52 south-southeast to the Algonquin Trail turnoff. The trailhead begins about 100 yards :of the turnoff.

Trail layout:
From the south trailhead at 6,800 feet, the trail begins a gradual descent. At mile 0.75, there is an ideal campsite for about eight people and four horses. The trail continues downhill through Ponderosa pine. The vegetation soon turns to chaparral. From the trail, you spot two abandoned cabins. Beyond them is a campsite suitable for four or five people and two horses.

The National Forest does not maintain the trail from here to Algonquin Mine and hikers need to be cautious. The trail intersects with Trail #30 in Horsethief Canyon where you may find a seasonal stream. The Algonquin Mine at 4,600 feet is just a 0.5-mile hike from here.

The trail continues for a 0.5 mile to the headwaters of Poland Creek. The trail begins the final ascent from 2.5 miles to the north FR #259 trailhead up a steep switchback grade. Miners used this portion of the trail originally to haul ore on pack animals. As you approach the north trailhead, the broad vistas of the Verde Valley to the northeast and Pine Mountain to the east come into view.

USGS Map:

  • Crown King

Restrictions:

  • No mechanized equipment (including bicycles) is permitted on

Recommended season of use:

  • Spring

  • Summer (can be hot)

  • Fall

  • Winter (heavy snow possible)

NFS recommendations:

  • Hiking Time: 2 hours-one way

  • Length: 5.0 miles

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Use: Moderate

Mile: 31.5 - Landmark: FOREST ROAD #100 AND LANE TRAIL #233

Turn south on Forest Road #100 to Lane Trail #233

Lane Trail #233
There are panoramic views from the upper portions of the trail of the southern Bradshaw Mountains, Walnut Grove, and Wickenburg. This trail travels through one .of the most rugged portions of the southern Bradshaw Mountains. It stays in the pine until Lion Spring. From there, the trail stays mainly in chaparral vegetation. Lion Spring seems aptly named, as you find mountain lion tracks around the edges of this dependable watering site.

The trail passes the Lane Mine, an old silver mine and one of the first established in the Bradshaw Mountains. The ore from this mine was so rich that miners packed it on burros to Wickenburg, put on wagons for transportation to Yuma, and then sent by steamship to France for refinery.

Trailhead:
From Crown King take Forest Road 259A south and after 0.5 mile, you come to the Forest Road #52 junction. Continue south on Forest Road #52 toward Horsethief Basin. Take Forest Road #100 towards Whiskey Spring and Sullivan Spring. The trail begins at the end of the road. Note: The National Forest annually closes Forest Road #100 from March 15 to May 15.

Trail Layout:
The trail is in only fair condition. It starts at the end of Forest Road #100 (Lane Mountain Road). The National Forest recommends high clearance vehicles on Forest Road #100. The trail remains at a high elevation of the east and south sides of Lane Mountain until it reaches the abandoned mine at Lane Springs. The trail stays primarily in chaparral vegetation. After passing the Lane Mine, the trail begins to switchback steeply down into Copper Basin at about 4,400 feet. The trail ends where it joins Forest Road #9268K, just east of Copper Creek.

Forest Road #9268K continues on to Humbug Creek and Forest Road #711, where there are some attractive camping areas along the creek. There may be water at Sullivan, Lion and Lane Springs. Be sure to check locally on this before depending on springs for drinking water. Portions of the trail are extremely steep and rugged. It would be a very difficult one-day hike.

USGS Map:

  • Crown King

Restrictions:

  • None (Although the trail is suitable only for hiking or horseback.

Recommended season of use:

  • Spring

  • Fall

  • Winter

NFS recommendations:

  • Hiking Time: 2 hours

  • Length: 3.2 miles

  • Difficulty: Difficult

  • Use: Light

Mile: 32.5 - Landmark: LOOKOUT

To the southwest, you can see Lane Mountain and Watson Peak

Watson Peak:
Elevation: 6,000-feet. Locals named the peak after 1882 local miner Henry Watson.

Lane Mountain:
Elevation: 7,l50-feet. During 1876, James Madison Lane prospected this area.

Horsethief Basin Recreation Area

Mile: 33.5 - Landmark: HORSETHIEF LAKE ROAD

Turn west and travel a 0.5-mile to the lake,

Horsethief Lake
This 3.5 acre lake is suitable for boating, fishing, and wildlife recreation. Originally built as a water supply reservoir, it now serves only recreation. Ponderosa pine is the dominant vegetation type in this area. The lake has bass, catfish, channel catfish, and sunfish although fishing success in generally rated as only fair. The forest service only permits boats powered by electric motors on the lake and prohibits 'swimming. This area is for day use only; with no overnight camping.

Elevation:

  • 6,080-feet

Mile: 34.5 - Landmark: HAZLETT HOLLOW CAMPGROUND (FEE SITE)

To the south is the Hazlett Hollow Campground and to the north is Turney Gulch Campground and trailheads for Trail #240 & Trail #30.

This is a small, semi-primitive campground in the Horsethief Basin Recreation Area. This is an old, but one of the most attractive and well-developed campgrounds in the southern Bradshaw Mountains. During the 1930s, the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) built most of the stone walls and walks throughout the campground. Fifteen camping sites will accommodate up to 150 people. There are no hookups available. The campground is open from May 1 to November 30.

Elevation:

  • 6,000 feet

Facilities:

  • 15 sites with tables and grills

  • Two toilets, one handicapped accessible.

  • 3-sided wooden camping shelters with concrete floors.

  • Drinking water

Stay limit:

  • 14 days

Special Attractions:

  • Close to trailheads: Castle Creek Trail #239, Twin Peaks Trail #217, Kentuck Trail #217 and East Fort Trail #31

  • Attractive day hikes in vicinity

  • Close to Horsethief Basin Lake

Turney Gulch (Fee Site)

This is a relatively small, semi-primitive campground in the Horsethief Basin Recreation Area. It is open yearlong and provides sites for groups on a reservation basis. (See page 107 for the telephone number.) The fee is $40 for up to 50 people. There is enough room and level ground for 15 vehicles and about 50 people.

Elevation:

  • 6,000-feet

Facilities:

  • Space for 15 vehicles

  • 10 tables and grills

  • Toilets -- one handicapped accessible.

  • Drinking water

  • Roofed Ramada

Stay limit:

  • 14 days

Special Attractions:

  • Close to trailheads: Castle Creek Trail #239, Twin Peaks Trail #217, Kentuck Trail #217 and East Fort Trail #31

  • Attractive day hikes in vicinity

  • Close to Horsethief Lake

Twin Peaks Trail #240
The upper portions of this trail are all in Ponderosa pine. There are some attractive day hikes in this area using the three trailheads and the portions of these trails above the point they all converge. From the upper portion of the trail, there are panoramic views of Twin Peaks, the Mogollon Rim, and the Mazatzal Mountains far to the east.

The forest service does not permit mechanized or motorized equipment on this trail.

Trailhead:
One trailhead begins at the sewage disposal plant just north of the Turney Gulch Campground. A second trailhead begins behind the summer homes about 0.25 mile northeast of the campground. The third trailhead begins on Forest Road #52 just 1.1 miles east of the turnoff to the Turney Gulch summer homes.

Trail layout:
The trailhead is at the sewage disposal plant just northeast of the Turney Gulch Campground. The trail goes generally northeast toward Twin Peaks, the highest point on the trail at 6,720 feet. At a point about 0.2 mile south of Twin Peaks, the trail enters the Castle Creek Wilderness and is less maintained from this point.

The trail from these drops down the north side of Twin Peaks remaining in the Ponderosa pine for about another 1.5 miles. The trail then descends steeply to the east through chaparral, eventually meeting the end of the Castle Creek Trail #239 and turning North through Catclaw Basin. A section of steep switchbacks then take the trail down to the Bill Arp Mine and along Bill Arp Creek to the Thunderbolt Road (FR # 101) south of Cleator.

  • USGS Map:

    • Crown King

  • Restrictions:

    • The National Forest prohibits motorized equipment.

  • Recommended season of use:

    • Spring

    • Fall

    • Winter

  • NFS recommendations:

    • Hiking Time: 4 hours

    • Length: 7.75 miles

    • Difficulty: Difficult

    • Use: Light

Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
The trail acquired its name from the Horsethief Ranch, which several noted outlaws headquartered trafficking in stolen horses. In the mountains in this area, younger tan granite intrudes on 1.8-billion-year-old, metamorphic rock walls. These igneous granites have eroded into boulders that throughout the Castle Creek Wilderness.

Trailhead:
The trailhead is 0.75 mile north of Forest Road #52 at the water treatment in the Horsethief Basin Recreation area. From Crown King take Forest Road #52 southeast for 7.5 miles to the Turney Gulch Campground turnoff (FR #52F). Go a 0.25 mile past the campground. Low clearance vehicles should park here. This area permits parking for five vehicles with trailers.

From here, Forest Road #52F becomes a four-wheel drive or high-clearance-vehicle road for a 0.5-mile to the trailhead. Parking at the trailhead will accommodate no more than four vehicles. The National Forest grades both Forest Road #52 and Forest Road #52F. They are suitable for most vehicles in fair weather.

Trail layout:
The trail starts at an elevation of about 6,000 feet descending into the Castle Creek Wilderness to about 5,000 feet, where it ends at its junction with Trail #225. From the trail, you view the northern portion of the Castle creek Wilderness. Although the descent into Horsethief Canyon is steep and difficult, the trip through this rugged Ponderosa pine and pinyon-juniper wilderness is an exciting experience.

At about mile 0.2, Trail #201 intersects Trail #30 from the West. Trail #30 from there ascends a ridge line for about 1 mile. Water is available during wet seasons at different locations. The first of these is at mile 1.5. The second is at mile 2.5 in a sub-drainage of Horsethief Canyon. This is also an area suitable for camping for five to seven people and up to three horses.

This water is seasonal and undependable. Always treat the water. It you are unsure of its availability bring your own water. The next camping site is at the junction with Trail #225. This site, actually the end of Trail #30, may also have water and will accommodate the same number of people and horses.

You may continue from this point on Trail #225 to the Algonquin mines and on to Forest Road #259.

  • USGS Map:

    • Crown King

  • Restrictions:

    • The National Forest prohibits motorized equipment.

  • Recommended season of use:

    • Spring

    • Summer (hot)

    • Fall

    • Winter (possible snow)

  • NFS recommendations:

    • Hiking Time: 1 hour -- one-way

    • Length: 1.85 miles

    • Difficulty: Moderate

    • Use: Light

Mile: 35.0 - Landmark: KENTUCK SPRINGS CAMPGROUND

To the north is Kentuck Springs Campground Kentuck Trail #217.

This small and semi-primitive campground is open from May 1 to November 30. During the wet season, a stream comes through the campground. There is sufficient room and level ground for some recreational vehicles. This campground is typical of the so-called "pack in, pack out," campgrounds. It means no trash collection and no drinking water.

  • Elevation:

    • 6,000 feet

  • Facilities:

    • 15 camping sites with tables and grills

    • 2 vault toilets

  • Stay limit:

    • 14 days

  • Special Attractions:

    • Close to trailheads: Castle Creek Trail #239, Twin Peaks Trail #240. Kentuck Trail #217, and East Fort Trail #31

    • Attractive day hikes in vicinity

Kentuck Trail # 217
This trail provides an easy day hike to the Horsethief Lookout Tower. It also affords the Opportunity for an interesting but much longer loop hike or ride to the lookout tower, then a return to the campground area by way of the 4WD #92368 and #52. Another alternative would be to hike to the Lookout, then go east on the lookout road to East Fort Trail #31.

Trailhead:
Kentuck Springs Campground between camp spaces #14 and # 5.

Trail layout:
It leaves Kentuck Springs Campground and climbs steadily for 1.1 miles to the Lookout, a 700-foot climb. Passing the Lookout, the trail then bears to the southwest along a ridge and descents to join Forest Road #923613, where the trail ends.

  • U.S.G.S. Map:

    • Crown King

  • Recommended season of use:

    • All season

  • NFS recommendations:

    • Hiking Time: 1 hour

    • Length: 2 miles

    • Difficulty: Moderate

    • Use: Heavy

Mile: 37.2 - Landmark: EAST FORT TRAIL # 31

This trail lies within the Castle Creek Wilderness. It provides panoramic views of Black Canyon, the Pine Mountain Wilderness, and the Mogollon Rim to the East. You will also see portions of the 26,800 acres of this wilderness burned in a 1979 wildfire.

At the trail's end is the East Fort Ruin. This fortress and old Indian post is a protected archaeological site. Please do not disturb this site..

Trailhead:
Continue past Kentuck Campground for just over a mile to the intersection of Forest Road #52 and Forest Road #697. Turn right and stay on Forest Road #52. Go south for another mile to the trailhead. The trail begins just 100 yards east of Forest Road #52. Parking space will accommodate four vehicles.

Trail layout:
This short trail descends into an oak-chaparral vegetation, passing through 1.7 billion-year-old granite (tan color) to the East Fort fortress ruins. The several campsites along the trail will accommodate up to three hikers; the lost portion of the trail is unsuitable for horses. The trail, despite some areas of loose rock and erosion, is easy to find and follow.

  • USGS Map:

    • Crown King

  • Restrictions:

    • The forest service does not permit mechanized equipment in this Wilderness Area.

    • The forest service does not permit motorized equipment in this Wilderness Area.

  • Recommended season of use:

    • Spring

    • Summer (can be very warm)

    • Fall

    • Winter (subject to heavy snow)

  • NFS recommendations:

    • Hiking Time: 30 minutes

    • Length: 0.8 mile

    • Difficulty: Easy

    • Use: Moderate

Mile: 38.0 - Landmark: HORSETHIEF LOOKOUT-PICNIC AREA

This fire lookout tower is located in the southern end of the Bradshaw Mountains at the each end of Horsethief Basin Recreation Area.  According to the Bradshaw Ranger District - Prescott National Forest, "the tower is open to visitors during summer when fire control personnel are present."  From the picnic area, panoramic views to the east and south of the vast Castle Creek Wilderness, Lake Pleasant area, the New River Mountains and the Black Canyon.

  • Elevation:

    • 6,704-feet

  • Facilities:

    • 1 picnic table

    • 1 vault toilet

  • Stay limit:

    • Day use only, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

You want to retrace your route back to Crown King and the Bumble Bee exit.

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