Most of the limited number of trails in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
cross the Puerto Blanco Mountains
, on the west side of Hwy 85; destinations include Victoria Mine
, Senita Basin
, Red Tanks Tinaja
, Milton Mine and Baker Mine
, which like many of the mining sites scattered over this part of far south Arizona produced small amounts of gold and silver in the early twentieth century.
The trail to Baker Mine is 2.6 miles long and fairly level, with just a few gentle climbs and descents, across undulating land of dry washes, desert flats and low ridges; by a short distance this is the furthest from a road of at least seven mines in this part of the monument, most of which are accessed from Puerto Blanco Drive
. Relics at Baker Mine are somewhat limited, to a shaft, an adit and several small tailings piles, but the views on the hike are varied, and plant life is abundant, especially the organ pipe cactus. Past the mine, the path continues to other destinations (Milton Mine, Senita Basin, Red Tanks Tinaja) to make a ten mile loop, though these places can also be visited on shorter, one-way hikes.
MapsOrgan Pipe Cactus National Monument map
The trailhead is four miles along the northern section of Puerto Blanco Drive
, one mile before the start of the rough, one-way section, which was reopened in 2014 after being closed for over ten years. Vehicles are parked at a small pull-out just north of the intersection with the disused mining track that leads to the mine, which forms most of the route for the trail. A map and informative notice describe the various hiking destinations, the closest and hence most visited being Red Tanks Tinaja.
Trail to Red Tanks Tinaja Junction
The start of the path is flat, across whitish earth which accentuates the summer heat. The surrounding land is covered with healthy specimens of the two largest cacti species, saguaro and organ pipes, while tiny, contrasting wildflowers appear in spring, most numerous being yellow suncups. The path soon joins the disused track, marked by another sign advising of the dangers relating to smuggling, then the track crosses a small wash and follows a similar sized tributary southwards, later rising slightly over a low ridge and dropping back down into a larger, bushier drainage. A junction is reached on the far side, where the left fork leads to Red Tanks Tinaja and Senita Basin
, the former a nearby section of the streamway which harbors several permanent pools enclosed by reddish rocks, while right is the lesser-used path to Baker Mine.