The Dixie Mine has changed ownership several times over the years, but was originally owned by Red Mountain Consolidated Copper Mines Company. Ecompassing approximately 420 acres and located in the McDowell Mountains, it was reported to have as many as 21 mining claims. In 1917, there were two main shafts that were developed for prospecting. Due to inexperienced explorers getting injured in the upper tunnel, an iron gate was placed over the 240 foot deep shaft. As a result, only authorized parties are allowed to enter the tunnel for research and rescue training. The second shaft, the Arroyo, was 100 feet deep and lies in a nearby hillside.
The mine was established in 1877, when mining scouts noted vast amounts of red quartz in the area. Red quartz often leads to gold and silver deposits, so a mine was quickly established. The Dixie Mine was sold multiple times throughout the 20th Century with official claims recorded in 1937, 1939 and in 1962. In the early 1970’s, Maricopa County was attempting to establish a park in the area. After reviewing the mining data, a judge ruled that the claims were no longer efficient and in 1977 the property was awarded to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. In the end, the mine was lacked any significant deposits and made most of its money from rookie investors.
The area above the mine contains several petroglyphs above the arroyo. These petroglyphs are represented by three time periods: the Archaic, Hohokam and Historical. The Archaic dates back more than 800 years ago which is identified by the unrecognizable shapes. The Hohokam period can be identified as stick figures of animals and humans. The Historic markings are about 100 years old and were left during the farming and mining era. Carved into one rock is “H.P. 1925”, which is believed to be from Henry Pemberton who ranched in the area between 1918 and 1925.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London
The Golden Eagle Trailhead offers ample parking and a full bathroom. After parking, you will wander for about 0.5 miles through the community (follow the imprinted feathers) before reaching the trailhead. At the trailhead, you will find a map and other information detailing the McDowell Mountain Preserve. Don’t forget to bring $2.00 for a self pay fee which is located within this area. Another 0.6 miles you will intersect with the Sonoran trail, continue on the main trail and in another mile the mine will start to emerge into view. Be sure to glance over your shoulder so that you can appreciate Four Peaks, the Superstition Mountains and even see Weaver’s Needle on a clear day. Eventually, you will come to a road with an intersection that includes the Prospector Trail, turn right and you will meet up with the Dixie Mine Trail. Quartz deposits, large granite boulders and lightly-colored rock formations guide your route.
The mine today is protected by an iron gate, but the views are stunning as you glance across the foothills, river valley and monumental landmarks such as the Fountain Hills Fountain that erupts on the hour for 15 minutes. There is another shaft further down, but it is difficult to find and you must use extreme caution. The wash to the left of the mine is where you will find two panels of petroglyphs. An unmarked path breaks North from the into the canyon, follow this canyon until the petroglyphs come into view. As a warning, we ran into a small pack of Javelina on this trail which fortunately got spooked and chose to scatter rather than defend.
“ Arizona, our beautiful state, was built on mining.” – Jan Brewer
The Dixie Mine Trailhead is accessible from Golden Eagle Blvd in Fountain Hills, 13.8 miles east of HWY 101. From HWY 101, exit Shea Blvd and head 7.8 miles east to Palisades Dr. Turn left (north) on Palisades for 3.1 miles to Golden Eagle Blvd.Turn left on Golden Eagle for 2.9 miles to the Public Parking Area just before the gated entrance to the Eagles Nest Community. Park in the designated lot and follow signs through the residential area to the trailhead. This is a .65 mile walk. There’s a $2 self-service fee (per person) to enter McDowell Mountain Regional Park from this location.
|Directions||View on Google Maps|
|Time||3.5 Hours RT|