In this long and difficult trail, climb through historic mining country to end in the small town of Crown King. This trail has a lot of history on it which will be explained in the description below. Make sure to travel with somebody even though this is a popular.
Staging for this trip can be found near the intersection of Castle Hot Springs Rd. and Cow Creek Rd. This is one of two staging areas. The next one lies at 1.45 miles. The first part of the trail is relatively easy. Then you make your way to the moderate portion and then to the difficult portion. Stay left at 2.55 miles. At 5.15 miles, pass a rusted sign and cross over a cattle guard. Pass through what looks like abandoned buildings and ruins at 5.7 miles. Shortly after this, at 5.95 miles, pass by a small overlook of French Creek. This picturesque sometimes flowing creek is a neat sight. Stay straight at 7.2 miles where Champie Rd. goes to the left. Make an important right turn at 11.15 miles, which is marked by ‘CK’ painted on a rock. This road is now known as Crown King Trail which has a lot of interesting history along it. From about 13 miles on, the trail gets to be moderately difficult, becoming difficult during the last few miles. Bear left again at 13.5 miles. At about 16.95 miles, cross a cattle guard signifying the entrance to the Prescott National Forest. Next pass by the historic Fort Misery at 17.85 miles. Al Francis jokingly called his home this back during the days when he hauled freight from Crown King to Oro Belle and the name stuck. Shortly after this we turned around due to time. We hit some rain on the way back which made the trail even more fun. The rest of the trail is from Charles A. Wells ATV Trails Guide Arizona: Phoenix Region. This book is a great resource and since this trail is not easily followed along Google Earth, it was necessary to use his book. At 20.95, ascend a very steep and rocky switchback. This road is now referred to as F.S. 192. At 21.75 miles come to what remains of Oro Belle. It is to the right of the trail after going over a difficult rocky ledge. Bear left downhill and then navigate over a challenging boulder field at 21.85 miles. Stay right at 22.95 where left leads to the Tunnel Mine. Just when you thought the trail would not get harder, it does. At 23.85 miles, the boulders get bigger although, the road is not as steep. Stay right at 24.35 miles. Finally, at 24.85, turn right onto the easy Senator Highway. To continue onto to ‘downtown’ turn left at 25.95 and left at 26.65 miles.
This trail is very difficult and is always changing. After each rain and snow, the trail becomes different. Travel with somebody to ensure safety. Allow for a full day, especially if you want to look at things. Overall, this is a great trail with a lot of history behind it and is arguably the most popular/famous trail in Arizona.
Right turn at the rock painted 'CK' Fort Misery along the trail.
The remnants at Oro Belle Mine
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Status: Open | Trail Type: Out & back | Length: 52 miles round trip | Approx. Time: 3-6 hours