There are several great trails at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument that take you into the wilderness of the Sonoran Desert. One aspect of hiking in the park that I enjoyed is that it is full of rich history. Several of the trails take you to historic places like mines or homesteads. The Victoria Mine Trail is a great easy 4.6-mile hike where you can explore life long ago.
For resources on the hiking at Organ Pipe Cactus Monument, I used Falcon Guide’s “Hiking Arizona’s Cactus Country,” and a National Geographic Map.
Finding the Trailhead
The trailhead for the Victoria Mine Trail is near the tent-only section of the Twin Peaks Campground (at the end of the loop around the campsites). Twin Peaks Campground is south of the Kris Eggle Visitor Center.
Hiking the Victoria Mine Trail
The Victoria Mine Trail is a nice, easy hike through some of the most beautiful terrain and vegetation I have ever hiked through. The trail has very little elevation gain. It dips down into some washes and then back up, but other than that, it’s flat walking.
I do need to note, that hiking in the desert can include some route finding. And although this trail is fairly easy to follow, I did have look for the trail a few times.
As you start out hiking, you can see mountains rising high in the distance. That is Mexico! I began early in the morning and fog hovered just over the ground at the base of the Mexican mountain peaks.
As you hike along through the cactus forest, you are surrounded by all the green life that call the Sonoran Desert it’s home. Giant saguaros rise all around you like weird creatures from a children’s book. Ocotillos, which look like beautiful filler plants in a bouquet, and cholla, fill in the understory to make this hike a wonderful desert forest hike.
You can see along the hills that are closer to the trail, especially when you first start, how the Organ Pipe Cactus favor the rockier, steeper terrain. They are abundant on the hills.
At mile 1.9 the trail intersects with an old wagon road. At this intersection, you go left and follow the road for a short way, before veering to the right to get back on the trail.
Around mile 2.2 you will see Victoria Mine on your right.
Victoria mine is the best-preserved historical structure at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. During its 40 years of operation, it produced more than $12,000 worth of gold, silver, and copper.
As you hike up to Victoria Mine you can see the waste piled high like a big dirt pile. It looks like it doesn’t fit because it’s unnatural.
The walls of an old mine store, built out of local stone, still stands. You can walk through it and explore it. You can also see the old mine shaft, which of course is fenced off for safety.
Victoria Mine sits high up and provides amazing views all around.
Lost Cabin Mine
If you want to add another four miles (two miles one way) to your hike, you can continue to Lost Cabin Mine. I considered going to it. But, when I got to Victoria Mine a sign warned again continuing further into the backcountry solo. Because I was by myself I chose not to continue.
A couple also hiking the Victoria Mine Trail came up behind me and I hinted around following them to Lost Cabin Mine, but they turned around at Victoria Mine. So I did as well.
Victoria Mine Trail
The Victoria Mine Trail is a wonderful trail and a great one to explore if you don’t have a lot of time at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Because it’s not too long or steep, it would be a great trail to hike with children.
Remember to always carry a lot of water anytime hiking in the desert, as well as a map and compass.
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- 4.6 miles round trip
- Elevation gain and loss 318 feet
- Dogs not allowed
- Backcountry camping – check at visitor center