Hardrock Trails Area – Detail

Hardrock Trails – Detail


Trail tips:

By following the Hardrock and connecting trails, you can loop the Hardrock Trail Area. It is about a 2.4 mile circuit with less than 150 feet of net elevation gain and loss.You can access the Hardrock Trail Area from any of the above trailheads and loop around the area in either direction. The description below assumes that you are starting at the Visitor Center trailhead.

If you are interested in learning about the mining activities that occurred along the trail, you should first go in the Visitor Center gift shop and purchase a map entitled “Walking Trails of the Empire Mine State Historic Park”.  The Hardrock Trail Area portion of the map identifies numbered historic points of interest along the trail that correspond to markers on the trail. The Visitor Center itself has many interesting exhibits. It is from there that you can gain access to the Empire Mineyard and historic buildings.

Quick Description:

The route goes clockwise around the periphery of the Hardrock Trail Area. Starting at the Hardrock trailhead at the southeast end of the Visitor Center parking lot, follow The Hardrock Trail for its entire length to its end at the Penn Gate. In general, keep following signs that say Hardrock Trail and/or Penn Gate. Once at the Penn Gate, you can return to the Visitor Center parking lot by following the non-park trail along Empire Street or following an interior trail. Throughout the hike you will encounter fences enclosing areas that have ground contamination from toxic mining residue. You should respect the fences and associated signs and stay out of these areas.  Optional side trips are available for the Orleans Mine and Work Your Own Diggins (W.Y.O.D.) Mine.

Detailed description:

Cumulative Mileage Description
0.0 Start of trail at gate in southeast corner of parking lot, just past the fenced mineyard on right
0.1 Site of historic emergency generator on left. Service road on right is blocked and marked “Area Closed”. Continue straight on Hardrock Trail.
0.3 Site of the Orleans Mine stamp mill on right
0.3 Junction with Orleans trail on left (sign is marked “Union Hill 0.5 Miles”). This is an optional side trip through a very pretty area that passes artifacts from the Orleans mine. You can return to Hardrock on the same trail or loop back to the Hardrock trail start using the paved service road (0.2 miles) that starts at the end of the Orleans trail. Mileage for this side trip, 0.7 miles, not included in mileage column
0.3 Unsigned trail on the right leads to a scenic bridge across Little Wolf Creek and returns to Hardrock Trail, bypassing a small section of the Hardrock Trail. Mileage assumes that you take the side trail.
0.4 Bridge over Little Wolf Creek. Bear right to return to Hardrock Trail. This is also a junction of a trail into the Osborn Hill Trail Area.
0.9 Intersection with the unsigned Hardrock Crosscut Trail on left. Continue straight on Hardrock Trail. Crosscut trail links up with another trail into the Osborn Hill Trail Area.
1.0 Hardrock Trail turns right and becomes a narrower trail; horses are not permitted on this section and should continue straight on the wider trail.
1.0 Small bridge over diversion ditch used to reroute Little Wolf Creek around mine tailings
1.0 Narrow trail ends and rejoins wider trail used by horses; note Closed Area sign on fence.
1.2 Intersection with unsigned Stacey Lane Crosscut trail on left. Continue straight.
1.4 Intersection with unsigned Stacey Lane Trail on left.
1.4 Intersection with unsigned trail on right into the W.Y.O.D. Mine area.  Here you can take on optional side trip through the W.Y.O.D.  Mine tailings, see the effect that mining has on the land, and loop back to the Hardrock trail. Mileage to W.Y.O.D. not included in Mileage column (approximately 0.4 mile loop).
1.4 Intersection with return trail from W.Y.O.D. on right.
1.5 Pennsylvania Mine buildings on right.
1.6 Unmarked trail just past the mine buildings leads to Empire Street near the Magenta Drain water treatment area. Mileage assumes that you will take this trail. Optional trail: Continue on Hardrock Trail to Penn Gate parking (0.1 mile) where you can take the trail adjacent to Empire Street back to Visitor Center.
1.7 Mule corral on right.
1.8 W.Y.O.D. Loop Trail junction. Continue straight.
1.8 Fence around Magenta Drain water treatment area. Follow trail next to fence towards Empire Street.
1.9 Service road, access restricted. Follow signs to Visitor Center.
2.0 Non-park trail next to Empire Street.
2.2 View of Bourn Cottage and rose garden on right.
2.3 Visitor Center.
2.3 Rest rooms in parking lot.
2.4 Return to start point of Hardrock Trail.