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Pets allowed
Yes
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
0.50 mi (0.80 km)
Please respect the outdoors and leave no trace. One tip how to dispose of waste properly: Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. For more information, visit https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

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. 

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)

Net Elevation Gain

200.00 ft (60.96 m)

Address

Lookout Mountain Rd
Prineville, OR 97754
United States

Features

Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Mine
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers

Location

Field Guide + Map

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