The NFS has not maintained these trails for years. A lot of water seeps down the slope of the beginning of the hike so a lot of stuff grows up and over it. One can follow the path but one must push aside and trample much vegetation. Worse, I have always encountered a rattler in the brush. Fortunately this last time he backed off. One must look carefully for the fork of the Fish Canyon and Gillette Mine trails. It comes within a hundred yards or so of the spring; the spring has some old boards to make it easier to keeps your boots out of the mud and a trough sunk in the dirt just below the trail.
The trail does not descend immediately at the saddle but contours around the side of the ridge, rising for a little way before descending. I lost the trail on my way down. Where the path crosses over the top of a ridge and begins to descend into Bear Canyon, about three miles along, someone has scratched 'Gillette Mine' into the old signpost and pointed it along the not-obvious trail. I missed a switchback down this trail too and had to backtrack.
Benco Mines has started a new mine across the creek from Gillette Mine and has improved the dirt road so now you meet a good dirt road, not a poor one. I found the detritus of an abandoned mine, pilings and rusted metal stuff, in the area I expected to find Gillette Mine but not the shaft or tailings.
The dirt road disappears after Benco Mines, the trail shortly after that. I followed the bottom of the creek most of the rest of the way and had to fight a lot of brush and soak my boots. It pays to look for the trail occasionally since no signs or landmarks announce it. I missed where Bear Canyon joined Cienaga Canyon but found the old dirt road that leaves Cienaga Canyon over to Redrock Canyon. Unfortunately I did not find the fork to the trail over Redrock Ridge and down into Fish Canyon so I had to follow Redrock all the way to the road (6N32) and walk it back up Cienaga campground.
I found a number of signs warning people not to leave the road near Redrock Canyon. I think the state has a water project here. The NFS has a new gate on the road near Cienaga campground to keep people who have driven in from the east out. So I don't expect them to open the road from the west soon.
Copyright © 1999 by Russell Bell.
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Last update: 26 June 1999.