Martinez Canyon - Florence Junction, Arizona
By: Steve Schaefer - September 2002
Martinez Canyon is located in the desolate Florence Junction area which is just east of Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. After an early morning drive out to the infamous Florence Junction Texaco station, a very popular meeting place for all the various 4WD groups in the area, the Roadrunner4wheelers pulled out for the trail. To get to Martinez Canyon you must first journey to the Martinez Cabins which involves weaving your way through the Arizona National Guard bombing range, BLM and Arizona State Trust Lands. Just before the Cabins you will travel down into the beginning of Martinez Canyon and encounter huge old cottonwood trees fed by a rare desert spring. The trail will then turn around a large rock out cropping and off to the right is a cave of sorts with a very old steel door. A short distance down the trail the cabins can be found and the Martinez Canyon trail begins.
|Entrance to Martinez Canyon||On the way to Martinez Cabins||Cave with the steel door||Martinez Cabins|
Upon entering the canyon you are greeted with the first of many rock gardens. A good set of rocksliders is a necessity on this trail as some of the rocks are quite sizeable. The trail consists of what is left of the old Martinez Mine road. It once was a well graded easily accessible dirt road, but after many years after the mine closure it has eroded into a 4.5/5 rated desert trail. You will end up making a big loop through the canyon and end up back where you started at the cabins.
|Entering the Canyon||Through the rocks||Rocksliders are a must for Martinez Canyon||Riverbed at the start of the trail|
After the initial journey down the creek bed you will approach the first of several waterfalls. Put one tire on each side of the large crack and head right up.
|Mark's Tacoma heads up the waterfall||Mark on top of the waterfall||Steve's 4Runner at the waterfall||Steve going up the waterfall|
A good sized rock garden then awaits the vehicles after the first waterfall climb. A bypass is available but everyone on our group opted to take the garden on.
|Kurt heads up the rock garden||Chuck pilots the blazer through||Mark and his Tacoma||Watching out for rocks|
From the rock garden you can see the old Martinez Mine Mill. More rocks lay between you and the mill which is your next stop. The Mill is a very well preserved structure with various mining equipment, generators and conveyor belts.
|The mill in the distance||Phil's FJ-40 on the way to the mill||Optional rock garden at the mill||Martinez Mine Mill|
Right next to the mill is a rocky creek bed you can drive down or you can take the dirt road. The creek bed takes significantly longer.
|Equipment in the mill||Phil in the alternate wash||Steve's 4Runner on the trail||Kurt climbs a step|
Once you are past the mill you have a series of waterfalls and stair steps to look forward to. There are also alternate lines to take if you prefer a harder challenge.
|Phil climbs a stair step||A bit further on the rock||Toyotas lined up||Steel left behind on a rock|
An alternate waterfall named Yellow Belly Ledge lies ahead. Two vehicles in our group climbed it. The straps were used just in case.
|Kurt on Yellow Belly Ledge||Almost up||Getting closer||Phil on Yellow Belly Ledge|
Once the waterfall and stair steps are completed a series of rocky switch backs takes you up the mountain to Martinez Mine itself.
|Mark on the steps||Steve on the steps||Martinez Mine and Canyon||Up on the top beginning the trip down|
Finally toward the end of the trail you get to the Luge. It is so washed out at this point is it impossible to use. The bypass is still drivable but the granite is extremely loose and the downward angle quite steep. Caution should be used when descending this short section of the trail.
|Pat descends the luge bypass||Gary and his Jeep TJ goes down||Mark and the Tacoma go down||Phil in the FJ-40 head down|
Right after the luge the trail takes you back to the cabins for a completion of the Martinez Canyon loop.
You can also view these pictures directly in the PHOTO GALLERY.