The weeks of early spring are an ideal time to explore the scenic wonders of northwestern Arizona. Mornings are cool, even in the Colorado River Valley, with a touch of rain the harsh desert is transformed by the bright colors of wildflowers.
But even in the midst of summer with soaring temperatures the opportunity for outdoor adventures abound. Bullhead City is centrally located in an adventurers paradise for all seasons.
As an example, the Mohave & Milltown Railroad Trail near Fort Mohave follows seven miles of an historic railbed from the foothills of the Black Mountains to the Colorado River Valley. The Bureau of Land management lists this as a motorized and non motorized trail system
With the exception of washouts, hikers and mountain bikers travel along the actual railroad grade for most of the way. OHV and equestrian users follow a route which does not lie on the grade, but parallels and frequently crosses the railroad bed. The BLM notes that the best season is anytime from September through May.
The railbed is a tangible link to an obscure chapter in Mohave County history. The narrow gauge was built in 1903. But the seventeen miles railroad was short lived. A series of torrential storms in September and October 1904 severally damaged more than six miles of track. Repairs were never made and in 1912 the rails were removed.
Ideally suited for a summer getaway are the hiking trail system in Hualapai Mountain Park, a scenic twelve mile drive south of Kingman. The Aspen Springs Trail is counted among the most popular in the park for the views from the summits, the wildlife, and the diverse topography. There is also an RV park if you choose to transform a visit into a summer weekend getaway.
Initial construction of the trail system and the rustic stone cabins was the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Most of the trail system is suitable for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians to enjoy. The Aspen Trail, however, is for hiking only.
All of the shade dappled trails provide wonderful views of the desert far below. September through June is the recommended hiking season as these trails climb to elevations above 7,500-feet.
The hiking trails in the Hualapai Mountains also lead to historic sites such as the old Silver Bell Mine. Mining for silver at this site commenced in the early 1870’s. As the round is unstable, it has caved in on numerous occasions. This has left a depression on the hillside above the mine entrance.
On the opposite side of the trail is noticeable flat spot. A blacksmith shop and equipment storehouse stood at this site. Initial mining was done by Jesse Martin and David Echols. They had the high-grade silver ore shipped down the Colorado River and to Swansea Wales for processing.
For more information hiking in northwest Arizona, contact the Bullhead City Chamber of Commerce, the BLM or Hualapai Mountain Park.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America