December 4, 2022

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Mazama Queen Mine in Mazama, Washington

If you are looking for a challenging hike with the reward of some Washington state mining history and some cool geology along the way, then look no further. This mine is located in an area frequented quite often by the rock-climbing community and is not far from the town of Mazama and the hip Mazama store coffee shop/ bakery. 

The geology of this hike is quite fascinating as well due to the colorful rocks up and down the talus-filled slope on the way to the mine entrance. Along the way, you’ll encounter relics of the mine’s past scattered in various locations on the talus slope.

Also, the view from just about any place you decide to stop & rest of the Methow River valley below is stunning.  It is well worth a few pictures on your way up & down.  It’s easy to get started on this adventure by parking at the second pull out area on the Lost River Road at just about 3.1 miles NW of the famed Mazama Store.  Mark the location of the parking area on your phone or GPS unit to use to guide you when you descend later today.  Don’t forget, we did!

From there, walking, continue NW on Lost River Road to the first & only trail/old mine road up the hill on the right-hand side of the road about 40 or so yards after parking. Sign in at the Forest Service kiosk in case you get lost so maybe they will find you.  Ok, it’s pretty hard to get lost since up hill is away from the road and downhill is towards the road and civilization.  

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Follow this old mine road/trail up the hill about 250 feet with its twists and turns through brush & trees until you reach a clearing where you will find old timbers and the large concrete foundations to the old Mazama Queen mine mill site. 

Check out the large bolts cemented into the concrete blocks on the foundations that were used to bolt down all the machinery that was used to crush the ore and separate the gold from the waste rock.

Continue up the hill to the right of the mill site foundations following the trail through many more twists and turns until you finally come out of the trees at the bottom of the gigantic andesite talus slope.  (Definition of talus. 1 : a slope formed especially by an accumulation of rock debris. 2 : rock debris at the base of a cliff.)  (Andesite is the name of a family of fine-grained, extrusive igneous rocks that are usually light to dark gray in color. They have a mineral composition that is intermediate between granite and basalt.)

Look up & to your right and 1000 feet up there somewhere is the Mazama Queen mine entrance.   

There is an old engine/air compressor about 20 feet from the entrance, an old blower still sitting right next to the mine entrance, bent ore cart rail and lots of sheet metal pipe going into the mine. 

There are also some really old handwritten names of people who visited this site some over 70 years ago on the sheet metal pipe at the entrance with some written in pencil.  It’s amazing that writing in pencil on sheet metal is still there after 70 years of exposure to the elements. 

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It’s amazing to me that at the entrance to the mine used to be a building which housed the engine and the workings that pulled the ore cars up & down the slope from the mill.  You will see lots of the old wood and timbers in this area from that building.  We actually saw some broken window glass about 200 feet down the slope from the mine entrance on our way up.

Apparently, some of the large trees you will see scattered on the slope on the way up were part of the tramway for the ore cars.  Look around the area where all the old timbers are at the top about 30 feet from the mine entrance where the building stood and see if you can find some ore.  We saw old nails, old ore car rails and various other pieces of pipe and thick metal cables.  

Know Before You Go

If you are not sure about your ability to use GPS locations and find your way to the mine and back without a marked trail, then don’t try it. It’s not worth your health or life. Don’t bring any children with you, wear sturdy hiking boots, and give yourself at least 6 hours of daylight to complete this journey.

If you make it to the mine entrance, please do NOT go inside! Inside a mine there is always the potential of low oxygen, poisonous gases, and unforeseen cave-ins that could trap you forever and end your life. Stay outside of the mine and stay alive. 

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