Vault Mine Trail One Hundred Forty is a 2.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sonoita, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
I like a challenge and this trail definitely offers one. It's steep...very steep! Probably the steepest trail I have ever hiked to date. I am not a fast hiker and tend to keep a pace that lets me take less breaks. There were many breaks on this trail. I hiked it March 26th alone except I did bring my almost two year old lab. He was a trooper and practically pulled me up the trail at times. Fortunately the weather was fairly cool as I would not recommend this trail in hot weather. The views are awesome and offer views of the valley and Mt Wrightson. We did not take the trail back down and I would not recommend it except to the most hardy of hikers. At the top we connected with the Agua Caliente Trail over to Josephine Saddle and onto Super Trail back to the parking lot. Out total time was about 5 1/2 hours with a nice 30 minute break at the saddle.
On the Coronado National Forest website, the name of this trail is the Very Steep/Vault Mine Trail. I should have read that before I hiked it yesterday. I probably would have done it anyway, but I'd have been less surprised. From the upper parking lot to the Agua Cliente Saddle, is about 3 miles even, according to my GPS. Once you leave the river bed, there is about 1.5 miles of brutally steep terrain. I can do Old Baldy trail from the upper parking lot to the top of Mt Wrightson without stopping to rest. I stopped several times on the Very Steep/Valut Mine Trail.
Coming down the trail is also challenging. Fortunately, I had a collapsable walking stick on my pack. Without one, a normal person would find the trip down quite challenging.
I will hike this trail again, if it is the "easiest" way to get to another trail I wish to see. I will not hike this trail again solely for recreation or entertainment.
Did I mention it was steep?
I have hiked the vault mine trail as well, probably more often than I cared to, with many loop variations too. I've been up it and down it, and a rating of hard is almost an understatement. This trail is nosebleed steep. When the sign at the jct at the bottom says "very steep trail", they aren't kidding. If you're not in half way decent shape, don't bother with this one. It will have you gasping in short order. Coming down is just as bad. You are almost in a continuous slide on the gravel, or pine needles or whatever is under foot. Don't get me wrong, it has it's pros too, but my rating of 3 stars is due to the degree of difficulty. The views are great, and when continuing on across the Agua Caliente traverse back to Josephine saddle, that is a really nice stretch. Almost no gain or loss for the most part. I would not do this hike on a hot day either, it is very exposed. But steep, did I mention steep?? Only the Carrie Nation trail is in the same realm as this one when it comes to that. Enjoy :)
This is not rated but I would recommend difficult. Elevation gain is nearly 2000' in just 1 mile and top altitude is 7400'. Not an easy stretch. We combined with Agua Caliente, Josephine's saddle and Super trail for a nice 8 mile loop. Once you get to the top great views. Overall great hike. We hiked in late march and there was still some snow on upper trail.