GPS Reading: Slate Mtn. Mine (site)———38°50.751 N 120°43.469 W MAP
Ever wish you could explore a mine but didn’t know where to find one? Here’s your chance. This mine is on USFS land and has quit being worked long ago. The mine is owned by the Little family of Georgetown, who donated the working eight stamp mill to the Georgetown Park on Harkness St.
The mine got water from Whaler Creek, seven miles away. Ross Little told me that as a young boy, his job after school was to patrol the ditch on an albino donkey checking for leaks.
The ditch is fun to follow today around Ballarat Mountain but is also a popular dirt bike trail, so beware of that traffic. It offers good views above the Rock Creek canyon with its neatly built rock walls that wind around drainages. Old flume pipe can be seen along the beginning where the ditch traversed rocky places.
All mines have a certain amount of risk but this one is in pretty solid rock most of the way and is relatively clean of mining debris inside.
Directions: The closest approach is from Darling Ridge if you are willing to wade Rock Creek and hike. Take FS 12N84 from Darling R. Rd. about 1 mile north of the Bear Creek picnic area. Turn L on 12N81 and begin walking past the gate. Go about 1 mile down and cross the creek and continue up the other side following the road about 2 miles and go R on 12N83 for another 2 miles watching for a road with a cable that goes upstream along a creek. The mine is a few hundred yards up this road.
Another way involves driving out Rock Creek Rd. from Wentworth Springs 5 miles to “4 corners” where you turn R on FS 12N82. Follow that 1 mile and take the “D” fork ½ mile to the OHV trail climbing up to the ditch. You should watch for the old ditch alongside the road near the trailhead.
Follow the ditch until it intersects the jeep road, Go L a short ways the R on the single track that takes you to 12N83 in about 1 more mile. Go L about 1 mile watching for the mine Rd.
You could also drive a long way around to the mine but that would starve you of a good hike. Get a El Dorado Forest Service map for directions.