Picacho Mills Historic Trail is a 4 mile out and back trail located near Winterhaven, California. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for walking and nature trips.
Yuma and the Lower Colorado River region played just as significant role in the western expansion of our nation as the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804. A vast majority of the 1849 California Gold Rush Pioneers had to travel to and through Yuma as it was the narrowest crossing of the Colorado River in its time. Hundreds of thousands of pioneers and their families rode horses, wagons or simply walked from all points of our nation to explore and settle California via the Yuma Crossing. Some had no reason to look beyond Yuma and the mighty Colorado River to stake gold claims and wish for fortunes.
Today, Yumans and visitors can retrace the same terrain, wagon trails, camp sites, and gold mines as these early pioneers with very little changing except the mode of transportation to some of these areas.
With no significant development to disturb sight lines or the vast tracts of public lands visitors can viscerally feel what the early pioneers endured with extreme weather, epic flood waters or just peaceful vistas and geography that change colors magically throughout the day.
Hiking in the desert Southwest landscape is the preferred way to enjoy the solitude and beauty of the natural resources that the area has to offer for photographers, nature enthusiast, bird watchers and wildlife conservationist.
The Picacho State Recreation Area located 15 miles north-by-northwest of Yuma on the banks of the Colorado River is a place to peer into a time capsule of the early settlements of the area and learn more about the founding, growth and death of a western frontier town.
I invite you to enjoy the many organized outdoor adventures or as a solo experience during the winter months when the desert climate is more hospitable to modern explorers.
The Picacho Mills Historic Trail is a self-guided walk in the Picacho State Recreation Area. Its is a family friendly 5 mile loop trail that brings you right into the life an early gold mining town. Your imagination can go wild with the possible sights, sounds, and smells of frontier life in the chaotic times of our nation's rapid expansion. The route to the mill site and trail is a primitive back country road with limited signage, no services or cell phone coverage. You must plan the trip to and from the site with care - a tow truck to this area can start at $500 (cash).
The California State Parks website briefly mentions that over 100 years ago, Picacho was a gold mining town with 100 citizens. Today the site is a State Park, popular with boaters, hikers, anglers and campers. The park offers diverse scenery, including beaver-tail cactus, wild burros, bighorn sheep and thousands of migratory waterfowl. (The park is on one leg of the Pacific Flyway migratory bird route.) Eight miles of the lower Colorado River are the recreation areas eastern border.
The Colorado River in its heyday pulled timber and other goods through Yuma to the California Region. Seeing history in action--through a historical hike--complete with ruins--reminds us of our history, the lands' history, and what Yuma meant as a significant trading post in the nineteenth century. Small mining towns doted the landscape: Picacho, KOFA, TUMCO -- many of them boasting over 3,000 residents! Many had more than one school and multiple saloons.