Sunflower Mine Loop



The Trail:

The Sunflower Mine Loop starts with your standard basic Fire Road, winds down to Sycamore Creek, runs through a rough stretch then up to the Sunflower Mine complex. Cinnabar was mined and processed into Mercury at the site. After visiting the processing site, the loop continues down into Sycamore Creek and through a number of rock gardens and obstacles. Eventually you wind out of Sycamore Creek and back up to the Fire Road. To check the on the status of the water in Sycamore Creek you can use this link to view real-time stream flow data from the equipment that is located around 20 miles downstream.




Date: 1/11/2009

Suspension: TeraFlex 2.5" Spring Lift, stock tires


Heading out with some well equipped rigs leading the way:

We made a wrong turn and then got back on track with our Jeeps re-arranged. Following another well equipped rig as the trail is getting a little rougher:

Crossing Sycamore Creek - it's easy here:

It looks like this part of the trail got washed out and is now a bit rougher than normal:

The bridge over Sycamore Creek:

A view from the bridge:

Stop to check out a shallow "mine", probably a supply cave?:

The entrance to the "mine":

That's about it - like I said, shallow:

We took a wrong turn and discovered one of the Cinnabar mines above the complex. We didn't get out and investigate it:

Playing in a crack:

Above the complex:

The complex from above:

The main ore chute leading to the processing plant:

A view of the chute from the complex:

Making the last turn into the complex and parking. Here's the video.

Some of the well equipped rigs that could make it to the complex:

Time to eat lunch and explore:

A view from the complex:

A view from the complex:

A view from the complex:

A view up the hill from the complex:

The back end of the complex:

Back end of the complex:

Doesn't look like this truck will be making any more deliveries:

The end of the ore chute in the complex:

The steel rod mill that crushed the Cinnabar:

Another view of the steel rod mill:

Close-up of the gears

After the ore was cooked the gaseous Mercury condensed in these U shaped tubes:

Done with the lunch and exploring. Coming out of the parking area. Here's the video.

Now we continue the loop and head down into Sycamore Creek and into the first rock garden:

A bit of a rock to get over:

Getting some help to get through this part:

Guiding us through then getting ready for a photo opportunity in another rock garden:

The same area from a different vantage:

Us in the same area:

Coming out of this rock garden:

You want me to go up how??? They were actually pointing out the line to take - the driver's tire on the hard black and white rock structure on the left and the passengers tire on the black boulder in the middle:

Crawling over the above obstacle:

Heading out of the creek past a close squeeze (there are large boulders on both sides of the trail):

A Jeep that joined our group that needed a little push up this final obstacle out of the creek:

Out of the creek and heading back up hill:

A break up in the hills. The trail can't make up it's mind which way to lean:

A view from the ridge:

A view from the other side of the road:

Manzanita is all over the place up here:

One final flex in the easy part of the crack just before the end of the trail:

The fun part of the crack:

End of the trail and airing back up. We got a lot of good advise and experience on this trip:


Date: 12/31/2009

Suspension: TeraFlex 2.5" Spring Lift, BFG 35x12.50x17


Our second time on the Sunflower Mine Loop. We planned to see the mines this time. We had the minimum sized group for this run (2), us with our Jeep and Kirk with his VehiCROSS. It was a little cold at the air down spot in the morning:

Off the maintained portion of the trail:

We did the first obstacle this time:

So did Kirk:

Continuing on:

Sycamore Creek was really low:

Moving along - we're making good time since there are on two vehicles:

Stopped at the first "mine":

Lots of interesting looking rocks and boulders in the area:

We made it to the processing plant overlook it it wasn't even 10:00 yet...: we headed for the mines. This is the mine we saw on the first trip. Shallow and not very interesting:

Then we then headed up the area where there are three mines. There were some good sized rocks and a good climb to make the parking area:

Made it. Some old mining equipment in the area, and a mine entrance:

So we went in that tunnel. There are still tracks:

Some of the support have seen better days. Above this platform is an area where mineral was removed:

Look, a vein with cinnabar:

The cinnabar is the bright red blotches:

The end of the tunnel. I wonder of Tom has been eating the cinnabar?:

On the way back, Tom investigates on of the side tunnels that has a pit that has a long drop down. Judging from the color of his eyes I think he has been eating some of that cinnabar:

Out of that mine and looking at this one. The entrance was, shall we say, not in original condition. ;) We looked though the opening, and the tunnel looked shallow and wet. We didn't go in this one:

This is the entrance to the third one. It almost looks more like a cave:

Heading in. The dirt is pretty slippery:

Still heading in. The ceiling is really high in here:

There's wooden bracing that runs up in a large crack:

The end. Lots of old support going up:

We finished exploring the mines, so time to head back down the hill to the complex:

Have to get past the rocks first:

Stopped on the road from the mines to take a picture...:

...of the complex and mountains:

We both drove down to the complex and stopped in the "parking lot":

There's lots to see:

It looks like that chain ran a belt that dumped the the burnt up cinnabar in the valley below:

We ate lunch here (it was sort of out of the wind, though it was still a bit cold for me)...:

...and then got ready to head out:

Leaving the processing plant:

Time to take on the Rock Garden:

Heading into the Rock Garden:

Still in the Rock Garden:

From the rear:

More rocks:

Even more rocks - the end of the main portion of the Rock Garden is just ahead:

But that doesn't mean there aren't more rocks:

And more rocks:

And more rocks, maybe there's more than one Rock Garden? ;)

Finally at the end of the creek. Just need to turn out and get up the final obstacle then we're home free:

Oops. The rocks that were keeping the rear tire out of the deep tire tracks shot out and dropped the control arm down on a bolder that high centered the VehiCROSS. Well, got a chance to try out some recovery tools and techniques. We tried to strap it up the hill with the Jeep. No go. We tried to use the Hi-Lift to pick up the rear tire and put rocks under it. No Go. So...

...drove back down the obstacle and hooked the winch to the rear and pulled it back down. We then checked the other approaches...

...and ended up with this approach on rocks (not dirt), which worked:

Glad that was the last of the obstacles, or was it?:

Those boulder aren't small, and going up hill doesn't help. I'm not saying it's over till it's over:

Still going up hill:

Turned out to be a nice day:

Heading down hill:

Still heading down hill:

Still heading down hill:

The hard way is to the left, we took the easy way:

We reached the Oneida (?) Mine. This tunnel was wet. Too bad as reports has it going back for hundreds of feet. We didn't explore it:

This tunnel entrance was dry, so we investigated:

Looks like a... mine:

What did you see!:

A scary bat that was maybe one or two inches long hanging half asleep from the ceiling. There must have been at least two of them in the tunnel!:

Near the end of the tunnel we found this organic looks stuff on the walls. Wonder what it is?:

Here's another thing that looks organic:

We survived the things that were in the mine and continued out:

We made it back to the main Fire Road:

There was enough time to check out the Mercuria Mine, there it is:

The road we were on couldn't make it to the mine, so we took some pictures and headed home:


Date: 1/8/2010

Suspension: TeraFlex 2.5" Spring Lift, BFG 35x12.50x17


An unnamed mine in the area:

We didn't plan to visit it, but made a wrong turn and ended up here:

The mine (at least an entrance) is up near the top blocked by a pile of rocks:

If you have any questions or comments about this page click here to send email.
Last modified: January 08, 2010 11:29:46 PM