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Hardrock Trail and Osborn Hill Loop

Walk around Empire Mine State Historic Park and explore several smaller abandoned mines and 100 years of mining history

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Unknown
Length: 4.5 miles
Duration: Unknown
Family Friendly

Overview :  Welcome to Empire Mine State Historic Park, home to Empire Mine, which was once the most profitable gold mine in California during the... more »

Tips:  The Osborn Hill Loop Trail (at POI #7) is optional and will add a little over a mile to your total journey.

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Points of Interest

1. A-Frame

This A Frame (named for resemblance between its shape and the letter "A") was used to move heavy equipment and machinery. The cables needed to be replaced when they had worn out from the heavy strains and constant stretching caused by the weight of the heavy equipment that was moved.

2. Emergency Generator

This 350,000 volt generator was used to power electricity to the mines in case of a power outage. Luckily it was only there in emergency and was never needed.

3. Orleans Mine

This mine was once a large competitor with nearby Empire Mine. After William Bourn took over the mine he soon bought this mine along with several others along the same vein as the Empire Mine. Today you can still see some old machinery left out and rusted.

4. Orleans Stamp Mill

Here you will find the foundation of the Orleans Stamp Mill which crushed ores from the nearby Orleans Mine which you just passed. The stamp mill operated until about 1900 when it was no longer profitable to run.

5. Fork - stay right

Turn right at the fork to follow the Hardrock Trail around the Empire mine site, or continue along the Osborn Hill Loop Trail. (or, you can take the trail to the left to follow the Orleans Trail)

6. Fork - stay left

Stay to the left on the main trail and you will soon arrive at a bridge crossing over Little Wolf Creek.

7. Fork

To your left (and up a slight hill) you will find the Osborn Hill Loop Trail which will take you near the Daisy Hill Mine, Conlon Mine, Besty Mine and Prescott Hill Mine. Not much remains from the former mines, so if you are short on time you may be better off just continuing along the Hardrock Trail to your right.

This section of the Hardrock... More

8. Fork - stay right

Veer to the right here to continue along the Osborn Hill Loop Trail.

9. Picnic Area

Here you will find a nice picnic table where you can take a rest or enjoy a snack before confining along your way. Daisy Mine is only a short detour below, and you will see a sign for a "scenic overlook"

10. Sand Dam

This is where the ore cards of the Pennsylvania Mine dumped the waste rock, which you can still see today.

11. W.Y.O.D. Mine

The Work Your Own Diggins Mine is named for the practice of renting out land to individual miners who would then own anything they found on their property.

This mine did not last very long, and a court eventually ruled that it was an offshoot of nearby Pennsylvania Mine. Today not much remains in its place.

12. Pennsylvania Mine

This area housed an air compressor to supply fresh air to the miners below. The two buildings that remain today were used to hold transformers involved in the electrical systems of the Pennsylvania Mine.

To continue back to the visitor center, follow the small path behind the 2 concrete buildings, it should be marked with a trail sign.

13. Path along the road

Here ends the official Hardrock Trail and begins a path along the road. This path is not officially on State Park property but on the estate instead, and was used by miners walking back after a long day of work. After the bend in the road you will pass a driveway to the estate where you can peer in on the gardens and large house.

You can enter... More