red mountain copper mines
What you can find: Azurite, malachite, and assorted other copper minerals
Ease of access: Somewhat difficult to find, and needs dirt-road worthy vehicle. About half a mile from the parking area, down a steep OHV track. Only accessible during dry months, as the Cow Mountain entrance gate is shut when the roads are wet.
Equipment needed: Backpack for specimens, hammer and chisel, and water.
Safety considerations: If visiting in the summer, bring a lot of water -- it gets hot!
Where, exactly? To get there, follow Talmage Road east from Ukiah. Turn right onto Old River Road, just before the Buddhist Temple. Turn left onto Mill Creek Road, and follow it 5.8 miles, to the Cow Mountain staging area.
Drive through the gate. The road branches in two, and you should take the right-hand one - it's not marked, but it's Scott Creek Road. Go another 2.3 miles, staying on the main road. You'll see the sign for the road to Red Mountain. Go past it, and drive another 0.7 miles, to the second entrance to Red Mountain [it's marked]. Take a right here, and go another 0.3 miles, then turn left onto Red Mountain Quarry Road [unmarked]. Go 0.2 miles and take another left. Follow this 0.3 miles and park near the obstacle course. Follow the OHV trail down the hill to the west. Go past the pond, and you'll find the mine.
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This site is a bit difficult to get to. You'll need a vehicle with good clearance, as it's quite a ways down some rather rough dirt roads. Be prepared for a somewhat steep walk at the end, as well.
Please note that the road is closed by gate during and after heavy rains, so attempt this in dry weather only.
So what can you find here, after all that work getting here? Well, there's a plentiful supply of rocks with colorful crusts of blue azurite and green malachite. You can also expect to find chrysocolla, and if you're lucky, some mcguinessite as well.
If you explore into the creek bed below, you'll find sturdier pieces than you might find above, since they have managed to survive the trip down the hill.
Down near the creek, there is an open abandoned mine shaft - please do not try to go into this. Mine shafts are very unstable, and the disturbance caused by a person entering can often be enough to cause it collapse. That far out in the hills, you'd be lucky if anyone ever found out what happened to you.
That's not to mention what could be inside already - this is rattlesnake, mountain lion, and bear territory. So stay out of the shaft.
It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to bring a can of bear spray along, in any case - last time I was out there, I found very fresh mountain lion tracks just a short ways from the mine area. There's very little danger, as they are usually quite shy, but it won't hurt to stay alert.
Dire warnings aside, this is actually a very fun and enjoyable trip, and I hope you find your way up there one day.