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Old West Routes
 

Use the Route tab to explore options by desired time and pace on the trail.  

Our Scouting Reports & GPS Tracklogs retrace the paths blazed to old west frontiers by early pioneers and prospectors. They left an ideal overland explores playground in their wake; remote pack trails, wagon roads, water routes, ghost towns, boom camp survivors, mine relics, colorful history and a spirit for adventure that inspires. 

 
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North American Overland Journeys
 

Location tabs are the fastest way to find geographic regions of interest and interconnected trails.

All of our Scout Reports and GPS Tracklogs flow continuously from one interesting region to another, state-to-state, province-to-province, nation-to-nation using as little pavement as possible, and when we do, it tends to be byways versus freeways.

 
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Go Deeper: Foot, Bike, Horseback & Watercraft
 

For many, self-reliant vehicle overlanding is the adventure. Others Go Deeper. 

All our Scouting Expeditions provide opportunity to hike, bike and backpack. Many routes also provide equestrian and watercraft journey extensions. We’ve flagged some favorites to inspire you to take your overland adventure to another level.

 
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Explore what fascinates you the most.
 

Every Scouting Expedition is researched to travel through Old West Frontiers rich with interesting trails, tales and relics. 

The roar of the rush has subsided, but imprints linger; ghost towns, abandoned rails turned to trails, surviving boomtowns that retain the charm of yesteryear continue to outfit today’s adventurers with supplies, historical lodging and spirits. Look deeper, and you will find signs of Native America.

 
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Choose Your Pace & Challenge
 

As most of our Scouting Expedition GPS Tracklogs are interlinked, the base route is most often Easy or Moderate, but we explore Difficult options along the way. Some can be overgrown and sometimes barley visible, making them that much more appealing for those looking to build that into thier own adventure. Three broad categories are used but beware, what is Easy today can be Difficult tommorow, due to environmental conditions (see Go Prepared). 

 
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Get Lost in the Journey
 

One of the greatest pleasures associated with 4WD vehicle overlanding is the ability to wander at will, as one trail leads to another in a maze of options. However, advance research can help you explore routes that fascinate you the most and can make the most of your time.

There is nothing wrong with using a map and compass for guidance. In fact, you should always have them with you. But GPS technology and affordable mapping software really empower you to free-flow and always have a sense of where you are, at all times.

 
Apache Trail Loop or Pass Thru to Overland Expo
Devils Chasm Ancient Cliff Dwelling

Apache Trail Loop or Pass Thru to Overland Expo

Quests date back to the 1520 search for the Aztec “Montezuma Sunken Garden, The 1540 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s expedition for the “Seven Golden Cities of Cibola”, the 1840 Perelta’s Lost Spanish Mine that have evolved in the 1890’s Lost Dutchman Mine. Apart from colorful history and folklore, we encountered remote 700-year old cliff dwellings, awesome desert canyon scenery, peaceful lakes, gold-rush boom camp, ghosts and relics; all on a diverse range of roads less traveled. 

Region full of wonder, legends and quests that date back to the 1520 search for the Aztec Gold that evolved to the "Lost Dutchman Mine".

Several Hundred Aboriginal Ruins Survive in Tonto Wilderness
Climbing waterfall to reach cliff dwelling. Rope left both times we toured, made it much easier.

This loop trail is ideally suited to a pass-thru to Overland Expo if you are coming from the west coast, via Phoenix; it's on the way and offers incredible diversity, in a small region. Explore a Trek Leg for an hour, a day, discover great disperesed campsites or spend several days doing the whole loop on the way back.  

Trek Stage A: Apache Trail & Salado Cliff Dwellings

Our scouting expedition started on Apache Trail near the foot of the Superstition Mountains, the historical supply center for those seeking ancient treasure troves and The Lost Dutchman Mine. Located just east of Phoenix, the area remains a magnate for treasure hunters and ever-building folklore, making it one the most famous lost treasure tales of all time. Road climbs in and out of canyons including the awe-inspiring drop into Fish Creek Canyon and passes by several deep blue lakes that are a perfect stop for paddlers. We hiked up to Salado Indian cliff dwellings in Tonto National Monument and carried on to Devils Chasm, an incredibly well preserved remote ruin, that requires an aggressive hike and scramble to reach. Further down Cheery Creek Trail is the site of the 1880’s Pleasant Valley War; an 18 year feud between sheep and beef ranchers that rival that of the infamous Hatfield’s and McCoy’s.

Trek Stage B: Ghosts of Besh-Ba-Gowah Pueblo, Globe, Miami & Apache Sacred Lands of Oak Flat 

The route loops back, southwest, on paved roads through the boomtown survivor of Globe, also site of Besh-Ba-Gowah Pueblo, a major hub on an ancient trading route to Mexcico. Further down the road you will encounter the near-ghost town of Miami where many turn-of-the-century deserted buildings still survive because they were re-purposed as mining booms came and went until the 1957. It appears as attempts have been made to turn the town into a tourist attraction. Many of the structures have been abandoned recently and are still furnished, in hopes of fininding a buyer. Once again the route leaves pavement to travel through Oak Flat, a mystical area where the Apache have held sacred ceremonies for hundreds of years. 

Trek Stage C: White Mountain Wilderness, Battle Axe-Gila River Trail to Box Canyon

Our scouting expedition explores the region between White Mountain Wilderness and Box Canyon, traveling over a series of rugged historical wagon roads, an incredible array of eye-pleasing geography that can be crammed into a day, but easily stretched into two; The Battle Axe/Gila River Trail, Cochran Coke Ovens Stage Coach Trail, Martinez Mine Trail and Box Canyon Trail, before looping back to the Superstition Mountains, the heart of quest for Lost Dutchmen Mine.

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Trek Stage A : Apache Trail, Salado Cliff Dwellings & Tonto National Forest  
Goldfield Ghost Town, head-of-trail. See Trek Legs below for route slideshow.

Apache Trail, Salado Cliff Dwellings & Tonto National Forest

This series of routes is full of mystical places, legends, treasure hunts, ancient cliff dwellings, frontier ranching communities, gold rush towns and remote turn-of the century mines on historical trails. Route starts on the Easy Apache Trail that weaves in and out of interesting desert canyons and several deep-blue lakes leading to Tonto National Monument Cliff Dwellings. Carry on up Easy portion of Cheery Creek Road to remote prehistoric ruins in Devils Chasm, Cold Springs and Pueblo Canyon, which are in close proximity to one another. Route becomes rougher after Devils Chasm, earning the upper section a Moderate rating. Further down this trail, you can explore the nearby site of the Pleasant Valley War; an 1880’s feud between sheep and beef ranchers that rivals that of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. The region is true to its frontier ranching roots and culture.

Trek Series:
Trek Stage:
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Trek Leg 1 : Apache Trail & Superstitions  

Ever-building folklore, make the Lost Dutchman one of the most famous lost treasure tales of all time.

Apache Trail & Superstitions

Quests date back to the 1520 search for the Aztec “Montezuma Sunken Garden, The 1540 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s expedition for the “Seven Golden Cities of Cibola”, the 1840 Perelta’s Lost Spanish Mine that have evolved in the 1890’s Lost Dutchman Mine. Apart from colorful history and folklore, we encountered remote 700-year old cliff dwellings, awesome desert canyon scenery, peaceful lakes, gold-rush boom camp, ghosts and relics; all on a diverse range of roads less traveled. 

Trek Leg:
Maps & Pictorials
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Trek Leg 2 : Devils Chasm: Ancient Salado Remote Cliff Dwelling  

Once we added the hike and scramble to one of the Southwest’s best-preserved remote Cliff Dwellings, it took the trek to another level.

Devils Chasm: Ancient Salado Remote Cliff Dwelling

We came across Devils Chasm by surfing photos on Google Earth. Right away, we knew we had to explore this region. Soon, we discovered the drive up Cheery Creek Road is a worthy destination, in-and-of itself. Once we added the hike and scramble to one of the Southwest’s best-preserved remote Cliff Dwellings, it took the trek to another level. Fair warning - this is a strenuous and challenging 4-5 hour return hike. With that said, the easier first segment to the massive bolder that attempts to block passage, will give you the feeling you have entered a prehistoric gateway to a “Land Before Time”.

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Scout Report
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Trek Stage B : Ghosts Of Native America, Globe & Miame  

Ghosts Of Native America, Globe & Miame


Long before Globe was settled as a mining camp in 1875, natives had discovered the riches of the region that became known as Bésh Baa Gowąh, (place of metal); a 400 room dwelling, ceremonial center, food storage and redistribution complex, built in 1260, on a major trade route from Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico that proceeded up the San Pedro River drainage and passed along Pinal Creek en route to the Salado River. The route loops back, southwest, on paved roads through Globe and the near-ghost town of Miami. Many turn-of-the-century deserted buildings still survive because they were re-purposed as mining booms came and went until the 1950’s. The paved byway leads to a diverse and exciting region south of Oak Flats, sacred lands for hundreds of years to the Apache, now a magnate to 4WD enthusiasts, hikers, birders and rock climbers. While there is an Easy route into this wonderful region, Overlanders seeking more challenge will be satisfied by the Difficult options we explored.  

 

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Trek Stage:
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Trek Leg 3 : Besh-Ba-Gowa Pueblo, Globe & Miame Ghost Town  

It’s rare to find such a collection of abandoned turn-of-the century and Art Deco structures, in such good condition.

Besh-Ba-Gowa Pueblo, Globe & Miame Ghost Town

Although we didn’t know it at the time, the Easy byway we took to loosely followed part of a major trade route that traveled from Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico proceeded up the San Pedro River drainage and passed along Pinal Creek en route to the Salado River. Google Earth photos had alerted us to Bésh Baa Gowąh Pueblo; a 400 room dwelling, ceremonial center, food storage, redistribution and trading complex. We were also surprised to discover so many intact abandoned turn-of-the century and Art Deco structures. It’s rare to find a collection in such good condition. Many were re-purposed as mining booms came and went until the 1957. It appears attempts were made to turn the town into a tourist attraction. Many abandoned structures are still furnished, likely in hopes of finding a buyer. Once again, route leaves pavement to travel through Oak Flat, a mystical area where the Apache have held sacred ceremonies for hundreds of years (Leg 4).

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Scout Report
Slideshow
                  
Trek Leg 4 : Apache Sacred Lands  

Those looking to test their metal will appreciate the rewarding difficult trails into this volcanic-rock boulder studded sacred land of the Apache.

Apache Sacred Lands

Oak Flats, has been considered sacred grounds by Apache for several hundred years. The shady Oak trees continue to attract today’s nomads, a gateway to over 2,000 rock climbing routes, some that include propelling down nearby Gann Canyons to three cool pools. Our GPS/GPX file provides an Easy route through, however the Difficult option included accesses all of the unique volcanic bolder-strewn fields dotted by Manzanita shrubs and Mojave yucca. We explored a diverse range of trails and geography along Oak Creek, Hackberry Creek and Rancho Rio Creek; a region where Apache have held sacred ceremonies for hundreds of years. Hike up to Apache Leap, where warriors choose to jump off the 500-foot cliff versus surrender to approaching cavalry, in the late 1800’s. 

 

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Scout Report
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Trek Stage C : Battleaxe-Gila Trail to Box Canyon  

Battleaxe-Gila Trail to Box Canyon

No time for full Trek Leg? White Canyon Wilderness, just a short Easy drive off the highway, makes for an ideal dispersed camping spot and for an evening/early morning hike, on the way to Overland Expo. With that said, full route provides an incredible array of eye-pleasing geography that can be crammed into a day, but easily stretched into two. After leaving White Canyon we dropped down to Battle Axe Trail, that parallels the Gila River. We played and got lost in the myriad of forest tunnel trails (above) before making our way north, up Cochran Stage Coach Road. The trail got considerably rougher with some eroded sections, earning this section a Moderate rating. Cresting the ridge, the route drops down and passes the ruins of the old stage station on the way to four well preserved Coke Ovens, once converted to lodging to attract tourists, but now abandoned. The wagon north continues to be rough, even with reservoir shocks, never mind in a stagecoach. It becomes Easy as you approach the turn-off to the optional dead-end trail to Martinez Mine base camp. The last bit to the mine ruins is rated Difficult, but the short distance is easily hiked. The route ends with a very pleasing Easy drive over Martinez Road and through the steep-walled, narrow Box Canyon Trail, before looping back to the Superstition Mountains, the heart of quest for Lost Dutchmen Mine. 

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Trek Leg 5 : White Mountain Wilderness to Battleaxe-Gila River Trail  

Ever changing scenery and trail conditions adds interest.

White Mountain Wilderness to Battleaxe-Gila River Trail

Experience notably different and interesting geographic regions; sweeping views on the Easy trail to White Mountain Wilderness, serene Gila River Trail that quickly enters the forest tunnels of Battle Axe Trail. Route rating evolves to Moderate as it climbs the old wagon road, and down, past the Stage Station ruins to the well-preserved Cochran Coke Ovens. Trail remains rough, with eroded sections, as it approaches the optional Moderate side trail to Martinez Mine that includes a Difficult last stage option (Leg 6) and evolves back to an Easy rating, as it travels to Box Canyon.  Alert: On Oct. 27, 2015 we were advised by 4X Overland Adventures that part of the Martinez Trail may be closed, and the Cochran Coke Ovens, themselves are closed off, however, they can be seen from afar from the ridge above, as you leave Battle Axe Trail and head north. In addition, while Box Canyon is still open, the main exit/entrance from Florence Junction road has been closed with a bypass. You can also see leave Box Canyon from Mineral Mountain road, that heads north to exit on Highway 60 just west of the iconic Dromedary Peak, see photo #29 in slideshow.

 

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Scout Report
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Trek Leg 6 : Cochrane Coke Ovens, Martinez Mine & Box Canyon  

Unlimited array of dispersed camping, hiking & biking opportunities on route.

Cochrane Coke Ovens, Martinez Mine & Box Canyon


Route Carries on from Moderate Cochran Coke Ovens Stage Road to the Easy, but highly scenic, East Martinez Road. Those looking for more diversity and challenge can take an optional Moderate side trail to Martinez Mine base camp. From there, trail is rated Difficult, but the short distance is easily hiked. From the optional mine turn-off, route travels through two very different dramatic canyons; rugged, rocky Martinez Canyon and the narrow, steep-walled Box Canyon, before looping back to the Superstition Mountains, heart of the quest for Lost Dutchmen Mine. Alert: On Oct. 27, 2015 we were advised by 4X Overland Adventures that part of the Martinez Trail may be closed, and the Cochran Coke Ovens, themselves are closed off, however, they can be seen from afar from the ridge above, on the way to Battle Axe Trail. In addition, while Box Canyon is still open, the main exit/entrance from Florence Junction road has been closed with a bypass. You can also see access Box Canyon from Mineral Mountian road, turn off from Highway 60 is just before you pass the iconic Dromedary Peak, see photo #2 in slideshow.

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Scout Report
Slideshow
                  

OverlandFrontier.com Must Come To An End

It is with a heavy heart that we must advise our supporters that we are forced to close the Overland Frontier website. While the site was only open for one year, we started development many years earlier. Since that time the importance of a mobile friendly website has increased. We hope we can be back one day, with a new and improved resource for overland routes. We have so many more Treks, Journeys and Expeditions that we did not have time to showcase. We are anxious to find a new mobile-friendly channel to share these routes with other enthusiasts and we are open to ideas and partners; contact rogermercier@me.com

In the meantime follow our expeditions on Facebook