Off-Road Trails – Northwestern Arizona, Part 2

Apr. 16, 2013 By Jim Brightly, KF7SCT
Cherokees, both XJs and Grands, can enjoy Chicken Ranch - one of three trails we focus on in Part 2 of Northwestern Arizona trails.

Approximately 20 miles west of Kingman, Arizona—about halfway between Kingman and Laughlin, Nevada—lies Golden Valley. Surrounded by several mountain ranges, Golden Valley is the center of dozens of four-wheeling trails that spread out in all directions through those mountain ranges.

As I said in the previous article, most of the trails that I haven’t the space to include here can be found in Luis & Paula Vega’s 4 Wheel Drive & Back Roads of Mohave County, Arizona. The Vega books (other editions cover Yavapai, La Paz, and Yuma counties) include directions, GPS locations, trail descriptions, and in many cases a history of the areas covered by the trails—they are available on Amazon and in most bookstores in Mohave County.

One other item: the Walapai 4 Wheel Club is headquartered in Kingman, and the club is hosting its annual Ghost Town Jamboree on April 12-14, 2013. If the descriptions and images in this article have intrigued you into thinking about wheeling in Mohave County, go to the club’s website at for more information and prices. (I’ll be doing an article on the jamboree; look for it here on ORC.)

Just a few items I’d like to cover before getting into the remaining three trail descriptions. Some of these trails pass through cattle country. These are working ranches, raising meat for our tables and Mickey Dees. So when you pass through a gate, leave it in the same condition that you found it. If it’s open, leave it open. If it’s closed, close it after you’ve gone through. When you visit please take only pictures and leave only footprints—or tire prints, in our case. Over the past decade that I’ve been visiting these areas I’ve seen a great deal of destruction and desecration to the various buildings, and it’s sickening. If you should come upon any cattle or wildlife, please slow down and if you have to drive near them, do it very slowly so that you don’t spook them.

Big Horn desert sheep and jackasses—and jennies—are regularly seen along the Chicken Ranch trail.

Chicken Ranch
While not really very technical—rated at 2.5-3—this trail is just fun! And there’s a reward at the end of it: a mini ghost settlement. With apologies to Bobby Troup, you can get your kicks off Route 68. And I’ve seen wild burros and big horn desert sheep on this trail.

I nicknamed this trail Chicken Ranch because the small group of abandoned buildings at its end appears to have been a combination of chicken coops, small motel, roadside café, and gas station—just like right out of the movie The Postman Always Rings Twice. It’s actually the old Richardson Ranch and it sat astraddle the original paved road between Kingman and the Colorado River, at the top of Union Pass.

Keep your eye on the prize on the trail to Chicken Ranch. This was the motel office.

To find the ranch, drive east on SR68 down into Golden Valley from the top of Union Pass and watch for a gate/opening with a cattle guard in the fence on the south (right-hand) side of the highway. Take the dirt road (some of it is the old grade and consists of broken asphalt and dirt) back west. Continue taking any corners or splits to the right—roughly parallel to SR68—until it eventually becomes a single track.

Northwestern Arizona Trails - Part 1

There were several rock cabins behind the motel office while the ranch was in operation.

Follow that track up and down and around ridges and arroyos until it drops down into a dry, rocky creek bed. The trail now climbs out of the creek bed and then drops back down into it several times, and then it flows through an old ranch yard with a grave and foundations from a house and outbuildings. Continue west until you find the Chicken Ranch. Just reverse these directions to return to SR68.

Can you believe a wood-fired water heater? Water flowed through the tubing while the fire was kept stoked in the barrel. Ingenious!

Next Page... Northern Arizona Trails, Part 2 Newsletter
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