East Fork to Stanley-Miller Mine

Final Stats:

15 miles, 4500 ft (my path)

To paraphrase,

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result.”

East Fork to the Narrows & Stanley Miller Mine at EveryTrail

meetup link and other’s photos and comments

I think there was some insanity in this hike as well. What a hike.

This was part 3 out of 4 in the hiking series “Mines of Iron Mountain”. #1 was Allison Mine, and #2 was Baldora and Widco Mines. I expected this one to be harder than the first two, but even so it was a bit harder than I predicted.

We started off with 9 people hiking up the East Fork around other people heading up to the the bridge. The water level was lower than last time I was there in the spring, so the few crossings were easier and sped up our pace. We made it to the bridge in 2 hrs.

From there, we continued into the Narrows, a section that I don’t think anyone in the group had been to before. I really liked the area, with plenty of watering holes around smooth rock, nice areas to camp, and a little more isolation. Apparently there is a guy named Hobo Dave who resides back here.

So the plan was to get to Stanley-Miller Mine. I can’t say it was a well thought out plan. I studied a map beforehand as well as made gps coordinates and tracks around the area, and I read one Sierra Club trip report that hiked up the west ridge of Iron Mt and passed by Stanley Miller on the way.

If you study the USGS topo map, you’ll see a bunch of trails around the Narrows and Stanley-Miller. The one used in the trip report seemed to be the one ascending from Iron Fork straight up to the mine. The other trails I had heard were non-existent.

Well this certainly was a nonexistant trail to! In fact, I wonder how it could even be considered a trail. We started ascending up, passing up a bit of poison oak (mentioned in the Sierra club TR), and then went up the steep gully formed with lots of steep rock slabs. This was alright for some, but harder for others. One specific spot that had few decent handholds slowed the group down and had some turn around.

Once we got past that obstacle and continued up the rocks, it seemed the “trail path” was going straight into brush. So I decided to veer NE along the rock in hopes to eventually cut across south and avoid the brush. Well, rocks heading NE were even worse. As many of you know, the San Gabriels have some terrible, crumbly rock. Well there I am, climbing up this crap with a nice steep drop to my left on the side of freaking Iron Mt.

Of course I paid attention checking and testing all the holds before I would make a move, but it was unsettling when so many holds would give out. Even large slabs of rock would give out. At point I tested a rock and it came out so quickly I almost lost my balance.

At that point I said ‘screw this’ (actually I said some more colorful things) and cut across south to deal with the brush. I was in the area of the mine, but I couldn’t see anything. The gully was covered in brush. Rudy and I waited for the other 4 to meet up (Hugo, Tim, Winston, & Andy), and they saw on the other side of the gully the chimney from old pictures. We then also thought we saw a mine entrance, and I took a pic of it.

At that point it just seemed we would cut across through some brush and find everything. For some reason, it was harder than it seemed. The brush was annoying but we made it across. The we started ascending, but apparently we ascended to far, so after looking around we descended again, and finally found the cabin ruins along with other artifacts.

The cabin is basically right on top of a ridge along the trail that connects Stanley-Miller to Allison Mine. We did not see a mine right around it. We went over the picture we thought was a mine entrance, and determined based on the trees in the picture it would be higher up. Tired already, we went up a bit again and then I continued up determined to find this SOB. I went up 500 ft or so, but no luck.

At that point we had spent 3-4 hrs up there and were resigned to not seeing the actually mine entrance but happy we did find the mind ruins. We descending down slightly south of our path up, on the other side of the brush which had some loose dirt making for a quicker descent. We connected back up with the rock-slab filled gully near the bottom which took some strong friction/wedge moves to avoids sliding down.

Back at the river, I just dropped my stuff and walked right in. Cooling off never felt better after that hot, brush-filled and exhausting climb. After everyone came down, we headed back.

Along the way back we saw Hobo Dave’s hut. I went over hoping he would be home and explain where the mine entrance was, but no luck.

On the way back past a rock slide we heard some rocks falling, and looked up to see about 8 Bighorn sheep. My first time seeing them!

All in all, it was a great, frustrating, dangerous journey.

Post: Later on, Tim pointed out to me the picture in the LA Gold Mines site. When I looked at that link previously, I thought the picture was just detailing the inside of the mine so I didn’t pay attention carefully. What a moron I am!

The picture shows the location of the mine relative to the chimney and ruins. Apparently the mine is about 100 yds south of the chimney. This means while we were going up and down along the northern side of the ridge, the mine was actually south at the same elevation. Ugh. In hindsight it makes sense since there was an open area around there, but we were focused with the illusion of a mine entrance we thought we saw on the northern side, so we didn’t even consider it.

The best part about this map is the fact that the guy labeled the route we took as the “really stupid way to stanley-miller mine”, and he had a better way. From what I can tell this better way is something he found and not on a map anywhere. Suffice to say, I would agree with him!

So with all the ups and downs I did ~4500 ft for something that should have taken much less. I’m not sure if I feel I have unfinished business with the hike yet…

Related posts:

Figure 8 Loop via Jones SE Ridge
Three Points to Twin Peaks, Waterman Mt.
Mt. Baldy Run to the Top Race

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 16th, 2009 at 9:32 am and is filed under Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

19 Responses to “East Fork to Stanley-Miller Mine”


e August 16th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

is that john qoun on that bungee?


Miriam August 17th, 2009 at 9:35 am

So lucky, you guys saw bighorn sheep. I didn’t get to see one, and I was looking for them on the way back through the narrows.


Winston August 17th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I’m printing out that hand drawn map and going back to find that mine!

SocalHikes Hiker

SocalHikes Hiker August 17th, 2009 at 7:38 pm

yea, i may have to join you on that Winston.


August 17th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

I kinda feel like I have to go back. But next time it’s somehow going to involve Iron Mt as well


Kolby August 18th, 2009 at 1:44 am

Sorry you didn’t find the mine, Ze – but it was a good trip report. What’s up with the first image?


August 23rd, 2009 at 10:03 am

pictures didn’t come out great – but the rock has a nice gold coating to it. i guess there is gold in them mountains


Tom August 25th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

After a 2 year hunt in the late 70′s, (and being told by the damn rangers that the mine no longer existed), I found the SM and made a number of trips to it through the 80′s. Mostly day hikes but a couple overnights. The map posted at the Gold Mines of LA site is indeed correct. When you get to the site of the cabin ruins on the river, head straight up. No easier way than that, and it’s not easy. The mine is as depicted on the map. There’s an interesting pipe, about 6″ in diameter, that heads upslope from the tunnel/mill site. If you make the God-awful climb up along it, you’ll discover it ends at a flume on the north face of Iron Mt that brought water to the SM via that pipe. Never did find a trail link to the Allison, but spent a LOT of time trying. Oh yeah, in the mine itself there’s a very nice pneumatic rock drill still at the face, too large to haul away. Makes you want to head back, doesn’t it?


August 25th, 2009 at 6:05 pm

wow, awesome info Tom. those must have been some adventures, given that at that time I’m sure there was really little info on the mine, outside of it being on the usgs topo map.

ugh, yeah I think I have to go back. there’s still a lot to explore. at least the climb will be ‘relatively’ easier.

the pipe is really interesting. did it just cross over into the gully north of the ridge where SM is, or did it actually traverse over to the next ridge?


Tom August 25th, 2009 at 10:14 pm

The pipe went right up the slope above the mill area and powered a pelton wheel. On the day trips (mostly solo, BTW) I never had the energy to follow it up. Finally on an overnight, where we camped at the river near the cabin ruins, we decided to follow the pipe up the next day when we were fresh. It topped out maybe 300′ above at the end of an old flume line cut into the mountain that curved around the north face, maintaining a roughly horizontal path, as flumes tend to do. We followed it a little ways, but ran out of time before reaching whatever water source they were tapping in to. I was always curious if water could still be found at the other end of the flume

As far as the trail from the SM to the Allison, I could never see anything obvious leading southerly from the mill site area. Lots of rockfall though, which could have taken much out, not to mention all the overgrowth. And it was well before GPS was available. I had made several ascents from the river between the bridge and where the map showed the SM to be, trying to intersect the Allison trail. No luck. That would be quite a find though.

BTW I compared your pics to mine taken in the late 70s and 80s. Not much difference, but it looks like some of the smaller artifacts (pots, pans, bottles, etc) might have been carted away. And I’m sure the ore cart is still in the tunnel. Too damn big to steal.

You were SO close to the tunnel and mill site when you were at the cabin site. Too bad…..

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » Summer Blues…

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » Summer Blues… August 25th, 2009 at 11:49 pm

[...] Cross country route. I’ve been wanting to do this one for awhile now. 3. Visit and find the Stanley-Miller Mine: Attempt 1 failed. That only means attempt 2 should be a complete success! 4. Whatever Ze cooks [...]


August 28th, 2009 at 4:49 am

man, looks like another attempt is in store then! i might add in some more adventure to it the next time…

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » East Fork – Iron Mt – NW ridge – Stanley Miller Mine Loop

SocalHikes.com – Southern California Hike Reports and Trail Information » Blog Archive » East Fork – Iron Mt – NW ridge – Stanley Miller Mine Loop May 16th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

[...] August, a bunch of us made the trek up the East Fork to Iron Fork in search of the elusive Stanley-Miller mine. The old [...]

Daven Gray

Daven Gray May 17th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I drew the map that appears on Hugh Blanchards web site (mines of LA County . com. Have been to the Stanley Miller 2 or 3 times, and named the northern route “The really stupid way to get to the Stanley Miller Mine”. The mine tunel is still there, the ore cart is not far inside. It is a “D” shaped mine meaning the tunnel seperates into two that are parralel then rejoin deep in the mountain. The flume you mention at the top of the 300′ stretch of iron pipe used to cary a lighter weight pipe around the mountain to Clark Gulch where dams captured the stream flow. The whole pipe system was 4300′ long. I have a photo of Harold Neher standing on it as it rounds a vertical cliff that was taken in the 30′s by Ray Minnich


May 18th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Hi Daven,

Appreciate your maps. I did go back and make it to the mine: http://socalhikes.com/2010/05/east-fork-iron-mt-nw-ridge-stanley-miller-mine-loop/

Would love to see that old picture!


Ronman January 23rd, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Hi Daven how ya doing Bro are ya doing any more trips up the mountain Please get back with me Bro take care. Ron

Mark the Shark

Mark the Shark November 25th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

My dad, cousin, and I took a casual stroll up to the Stanley-Miller Mine last month. The mine entrance is still passable without having to crawl, but I suspect that as the years wear on, that will change. We climbed up the angled oblique shaft inside and saw other shafts proceeding down and horizontally, but the air smelled weird up there and, having absolutely no knowledge of the dangers of mines, decided to turn back (I’ve heard that there can be dangerous gasses in mines).

A few words of wisdom: Keep a sharp eye out for Hobo Dave’s hut! We pulled a bone-headed stunt and marched right past it on our first attempt at the Stanley-Miller. My dad is incredibly stubborn, and I take after him, so we pressed on all the way to Fish Fork before conceding defeat. Also, bring a pair of leather/work gloves so you can use the metal cable to help climb that steep slope without getting rusty metal splinters in your hands.

One of these days I’d like to check out the Wetwater Trail. It looks washed out from far away, but I’ve noticed that trails often look deceptively non-existent from afar. Has anyone tried walking out on that crazy thing?

Daven Gray

Daven Gray December 8th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

The Wetwater Trail is still there, at least the part that was blasted out of the cliff edge overlooking the East Foor stream. Find the remnants of Old Hickory Justices cabin above and behind Dave Cordi’s hut. Make your way through the bay and poisen oak etc, behind (east) of the cabin. The trail starts perhaps 50 or 75 yards from the cabin remnants and curves south up along the cliff for 2 or 300 yards and then abruptly ends at a ridge. From there, the trail was cut, switchbacking up through the brush to the mine. I’m sure it’s still there, hidden under the brush. It will come out of hiding when the next fire burns over the area. Take clippers along as stubborn Yucca is about the only thing that finds root in the hardrock cliffs. I’ve had to clip yucca every time I’ve been up the Wetwater. The trail from the Stanley Miller to the Allison starts on the south side of the ravine (the one with the cable going over it) south of the mine tunnel. I was able to follow it for a hundred yards or so south then it disappeared into the brush. Daven

Eric Osborne

Eric Osborne January 1st, 2013 at 12:26 am

Hi Daven, I haven’t talked with you in years, since you built the coolest rock fireplace in my backyard. I hope you are well. I was actually thinking of you a few weeks back. I was up on Baden- Powell and was thinking about trying to find the old miner’s trail with the blast hole through the rock from mine gulch to the unnamed mine you showed me some pictures of. Happy New Year buddy!

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