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According to Wells, P. 165, difficult. Stock SUV's can reach Sunflower Mine. Difficult portion of the trail begins later. It becomes rocky and narrow with tight brush (sorry John S.) in places. One narrow shelf road with loose rock. 13 miles about 4 hours.
Sunflower was a cavalry water station in 1868 and was a side station to Camp Reno. Known as Camp O'Connell, there was one building by the roadside on a military road from Fort McDowell to Camp Reno and to Payson. The military left Camp Reno and Sunflower in April 1870. Apaches were surprised when they found Camp Reno empty, and they burned everything down to the ground.
The trail is FR25A, the road to the mercury mine. A high clearance vehicle is required.
The mine was abandoned when the Viper Militia destroyed a bridge over a deep chasm while experimenting with explosives. The Forest Service has now rebuilt the bridge. It is a short walk to one of the mine tunnels and on beyond to view the large amount of equipment. This is a scenic drive through wilderness and a short walk.
The Sunflower Mine produced mercury. The mercury was extracted from an ore called cinnabar. This ore was broken down into fine particles which were then burned in vertical furnaces to produce mercury gas. After passing through multiple U shaped pipes, the mercury gas cooled and liquified producing pure mercury. The mineworks building still stands and all the processing machinery can still be seen.
This fun and challenging trail will test your vehicle and driving skills.
This trail requires a modified Land Rover. The minimum requirements are working low range and offroad tires. Rock sliders are recommended to prevent door sill damage.