Hiking the Victoria Mine Trail

May 14, 2020By Glenn

Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat. If you're planning on visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument sometime soon and your primary objective is to see the namesake cacti that reside in the park, the Victoria Mine Trail should probably not be your first choice for a hiking trail. Hike something like the Desert View Trail if you want to see large concentrations of organ pipe cacti.

Of course, you'll definitely see an organ pipe cactus here and there as you traverse the foothills towards the site of the Victoria Mine, but nothing like the numbers you'll see off the Desert View Trail.

That's because the Organ Pipe cactus does not fare well out in the more exposed, flatter portions of the Sonoran desert. They like to be further up in the hills, like the kind of hills the Desert View Trail ascends.

So now you probably would like to know if the Victoria Mine Trail is even worth your time. So let's get that out of the way too. For me, I would say absolutely yes, I enjoyed it very much and would do it again in a heart beat. But I enjoy history and old mining relics. So if that's not your kind of thing, short of this trail being a nice stroll through very typical Sonoran desert terrain, then perhaps it may not be for you. Here's what the majority of the hike looks like:

A typical scene off the Victoria Mine Trail

Now take a good look at that picture again. If you're on your phone or a smaller screen, see if you can pinch-zoom on that photo and make note of the brown hills, or mountains, off in the distance. That's approximately your destination, where the abandoned Victoria mine resides, and yeah, the desert looks about like that the entire time.

So if you live in the Sonoran desert, like in the Phoenix or Tucson area, your mind will not be blown. It's stuff you see just about everyday, although I admit, this area is more untouched than other places, and I did see some very large and impressive Saguaro along the way that caused me to stop and admire. And like I said, the occasional organ pipe cactus.

Please don't get me wrong here though. It's beautiful country, it's just that there isn't much that is very novel if you've spent some time in the Sonoran desert. I'm really just trying to help you prioritize your time here at the park in case you're like me and only have time to do a couple things during your visit.

The trail does offer something else though that other trails across the state do not. A small sense of danger. You'll see signs warning of illegal activity in the area, due to the close proximity of the Mexican border. It's just a few miles away in fact. I was hiking alone, and admit that I was more on guard than usual, but the reality is you'll likely not encounter anything out here. If there are people doing illegal things, they'll be going way out of their way to avoid you, so I wouldn't worry too much. I'd invest more energy in keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes.

As stated earlier, the main features of this trail are the remains of a very old mining operation. In fact, it is one of the oldest prospecting sites in southwest Arizona.

As I neared the site of the old Victoria mine, the first thing I saw was the foundation of an old stone structure, perhaps a cabin of some sort. Just like what you see in the main image for this post.

Me, inside the cabin at the Victoria Mine

You can enter the structure. Inside there are old rusty relics from an age long past. The original wood frames of the windows and the door still remain. I love seeing old structures in a state of arrested decay. One of my favorite things to do.

Exploring the grounds around the cabin will also reveal some old rusty equipment clearly used in the mining operation. There is what appears to be a part of an old pulley system or something like that.

Old rusted equipment at the Victoria Mine

All of these things are certainly extremely interesting to me, but I came to see an abandoned mine. I have a strange fascination with old mines. I've never been in one. Not sure if I ever plan on going in one. But nonetheless there's just something about them. Perhaps a sense of danger. Who knows?

Very near the stone cabin, I spied a rusty looking grate surrounded by barbed wire. There were large stones sitting atop the grate that others before me tossed. Must be the mine. But you really couldn't see anything. Kind of a let down.

A protected mine shaft at the Victoria Mine

I noticed a couple other metal cage-like structures nearby that protected black plastic tubes that descended into the ground. Must be other mine shafts. These looked mostly plugged, and a nearby sign mentions that the mines serve as protected habitats for bats. So I assume those plastic tubes are how the bats get in and out.

Once again, not much of interest to see here either. But, I saw another fenced-off area on a nearby hillside and hiked up for a closer look.

This appeared to be yet another shaft. This time I got a closer look. There were wooden boards and twisted bits of metal blocking access into the mine, but with enough gaps to reveal that there is a deep hole under there.

Another mine shaft at the Victoria Mine

Even though I couldn't see much, the space between the barriers allowed me to toss a couple stones into the shaft. I listened with excitement as the stones bounced off of the shaft walls for what seemed like multiple seconds. The sounds got more faint as the stones descended. It sounded like the shaft went down at an angle.

After getting my fill of tossing stones down the shaft, I did a quick final survey of the area to make sure I didn't miss anything else. I saw piles of tailings, or waste rock near the site. I found what first appeared to be the start of another shaft carved in the side of a hill that abruptly ended, perhaps the remains of a failed prospecting experiment.

Overall, the highlight for me was the stone cabin. I admit there were more shafts here than I originally thought, but all of them did not reveal a glimpse into the abyss. I honestly am not sure what I was expecting. I get that safety is important and people do dumb things that need to be protected against, but I was a little bummed I couldn't see more.

I did notice what appeared to be more tailings or waste rock up on a high hillside with a shaft that held more promise than what I'd seen, but it was far out of reach. I had to get back to my campsite at the Twin Peaks campground to pack up before check out time and I was pushing it.

So there you have it. The Victoria Mine. Not the most mind blowing thing ever, but enough to serve as a nice reward at the end of the trail. You can actually hike further and see other abandoned mines in the area, and I would've loved to do so, but there just wasn't enough time. Perhaps one day, I'll return and do an episode on the "abandoned mines of Organ Pipe National Monument" or something like that. Until then, if you visit one day and have the time, give the Victoria Mine trail a try!

Interested in learning more about Victoria Mine Trail? Consider checking out our video, or get directions, pricing info, hours of operation and much more on our information page. Links below.

Camping Near Victoria Mine Trail