Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
0.50 mi (0.80 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Independent Mine, along with the nearby Mother Lode Mine and Blue Ridge Mine, are parts of an abandoned mercury mine* in the Ochoco Mountains that helps tell the story of the region’s rich history.  From the trailhead, proceed across the open meadow on the old four-wheel drive road as it moves downhill toward the original mining buildings. The buildings you’ll see include several cabins, the mine office and the ore processing building.  Before heading downhill, however, you can access the Baneberry Trail.  This is a quick, quarter-mile loop with interpretive signs and numerous benches to rest on as you enjoy the scenery.

* The lands for the mines were acquired by prospector George A. Dreis in 1930 for mercury extraction.  Mercury comes primarily from the mineral cinnabar, which is sparsely but widely scattered throughout the Ochocos, particularly at the base of Lookout Mountain.  Extracting mercury from cinnabar is rather simple: the rock shale is crushed, heated in a kiln, and the resulting mercury vapor is condensed and drained into a metal-lined “flask.”  You can find tailings and talus from the extraction process that have been deposited in mounds throughout the area.  Mercury was used for thermometers, various instruments, amalgam tooth fillings, a topical disinfectant, laxative and a de-wormer for children.  Once mercury's toxicity was understood it was phased out of common usage, and most of the mines in the region began to shut down by the 1950s.  Mercury still has many uses, however, including the mercury vapor that enables the illumination of fluorescent lights. 

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Historic mine buildings. Interpretive trail. Wildflowers.

Cons

None.

Trailhead Elevation

5,600.00 ft (1,706.88 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Mine
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers

Location

Comments

12/05/2020
Easy short walks to see the mining equipment. Many trails in the area for longer walks. These were mercury mines so always be careful, very toxic material. Most of it is cleaned up but ya never know.

I did an explore here and gave some info on the mine mills.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcN1njNw1cc
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