Monday, October 08, 2012

Deadhorse Creek Gold Mine

Holy cow... No blog updates for a while now!  This one was such a great ride it must be recorded.  Paul and I have been waiting to do this ride for quite some time.  I found reference to a gold mine for sale in the Mt. DeCosmos area towards the end of the riding season last year.  Now that we have found a tried and true route into the Nanaimo Lakes region without having to use a gate, we decided the time was finally right to go and find this mine.  Actually we attempted to get there a week earlier following trails along the north side of Decosmos from the power lines, but the trail didn't look too friendly.  We walked it and managed to reach the DeCosmos road and we quite likely could have got the bikes through the rocky trail, but we just didn't welcome the struggle.  So, on Sept 29th we made our way through the standard Moriarty Lake route using what we have come to call "the key trail."

Here's our route to #19 (the mine) and back to the starting point at Doumont Rd:

 1.  Stopped and watched some amazing young riders flying over the track at the Nanaimo Motocross Assoc. (Wastelands).  Very skillful riders on that track.  We met up with Ryan there, who was able to join us on his 450 KTM.  VERY nice bike!
2.  Through the tank traps.
3.  Left turn on Branch 142 towards Boomerang Lake.
4.  Past Boomerang Lake, turned right and then right again towards the power lines route.
5.  Headed NW along the power lines.
6.  Right turn to follow Okay Mountain Valley, (on west side of mountain).
7.  Left onto 155 main.  Got to try Ryan's KTM here... WOW!
8.  Turned left off of 155 towards mountain ridge NE of Moriarty Mountain onto 155N.
9.  Left turn towards mountain ridge.
10.  Ridge Trail NE of Mt. Moriarty
11.  Turned right onto "key trail" linking the northern logging roads to the southern roads (thanks Google E).  There's a nasty downhill section full of young alders shortly after this location.  (Might not be easily accessible if quaders don't hurry up and help us in keeping the trail usable).
12.  Down through alders.
13.  Left turn towards Healy Lake.  This was a failed attempt to get through to the DeCosmos roads by cutting past Healy Lk. 
14.  We stopped briefly at the lake to take a look:  Catch and release with non-barbed hooks here.  Daily limit=0. 
15.  Past the lake it began to get pretty steep and rocky.  Too rich for my blood!  Ryan had little trouble blasting through this section on his KTM, but Paul and I would have had much greater difficulty.  Do-able I think, but not without pushing and pulling each other.  :(  Much easier to continue through Nanaimo River Road.
16.  Back onto the main trail and downhill to Nanaimo River Road.
17.  Left turn at the beginning of Second Lake to follow the road leading up Mt. DeCosmos.
18.  Right turn onto mine trail and a sharp left again up a well grown in trail that begins to climb a bit steeper.

19.  We reached the Deadhorse Creek Gold Mine.  The narrow trail comes to an abrupt end where it meets the creek.  You can see the mine opening from here if you look slightly upwards at about 2 o'clock.  You need to climb down into the creek bed, which is about 15ft below you.  Someone has very kindly attached a couple of ropes to a tree to help you climb down about ten feet.  Once down, the entrance is clearly visible to your right and easy to reach.  (It has a flat roof, which I found a bit surprising).  We entered the mine for about 50m and encountered a vertical ventilation shaft that lets a good deal of light in.  From here there are a couple of spurs leading off in different directions.

We discovered that Paul had acquired a large metal staple in his rear tire.  It was pretty clear that a gentle ride out would be the best fix.  Excellent bit of riding on his part, not only in protecting the rim from damage, but staying upright on a tire with broken beads down a pretty bumpy trail.

20.  Luckily, the yellow gate was opened by a truck ahead of us and we escaped through without needing to retrace our route heading north.  We turned left shortly after the main gate and continued towards Doumont on logging roads once more.
21.  Continued along the SW side of Blackjack Ridge.
22.  Right towards Boomerang Lake.
23.  Thru the Tank Traps and out to Doumont to put Paul's sick bike onto Ryan's truck.  ;)

Here's some photos:

Healy Lake

Parked at Healy Lake
The end of the trail leading up to Deadhorse Creek.  You gotta wonder how that staple managed to get up there.  Surely nobody would be stupid enough to keep riders away from looking at a mine by puncturing their tires? 
Climbing down into the creek bed

Climbing down using the ropes.  You can see the entrance to the mine in this shot:  Look at the tree on the right.  Now look between the two sets of main branches on the left side of this tree.  The darker spot in the gap between is the mine opening.

You can see the mine entrance a little clearer here.  Ryan is pointing his camera directly at it.  I'm standing at the bottom of the ropes where we climbed down.

The mine entrance, (lit by daylight).  Square!?  I thought rounded would have been stronger/safer.  What do I know?
In the mine.  Looking back towards the entrance.

Looking up.  This is a vertical shaft about 50m into the mine.  Pretty wet here...  Lots of water dripping into the mine from this spot.  There were a couple of rotting timbers that appeared to be carrying some load at this location.  Good time to watch your step a bit more carefully.  Tons of ventilation happening... No worries about gasses, although I guess that's more of a coal mine problem.

Oh, another shot of the entrance, like it's any different when you're on the way out.

Ryan at the entrance and Paul further back making ridiculous "scary faces" with his little Walmart flashlight.

Detail view of the road past Healy Lk. where we turned back.

Detail view of the DeCosmos road that begins left, right before Second Lake.  The top shows the right turn onto the mine road and the following left turn up towards the mine.
Outstanding ride!  Highly recommended!

(Updated route to this mine with a downloadable track can be found here).


  1. If youn turn left and go ror about 100 metres, there is an old road, go 4 km up it, an easy ride. then at Y. the quad boys have opened a short cut to rod that brings to the same rode, i assume, that took you to the mine. waay shorter than your trek and a lot of fun. the short cut is a challenge.

  2. Hi KLXED! You mean, go left on that road that we followed up past Healy Lake? I think we might have seen that shortcut. We decided against clambering over a pretty rocky riverbed and a steep bank right after it. We would likely have made it through with a bit of pushing and shoving, but chickened out while thinking of the nice flat alternative. ;) Next time maybe. Thanks for your input! Maybe you meant a different route than we tried though????

  3. I think KLXer is talking about the Y on the hydro line trail and the 4km ride up to the end of the that past the car wreck. Then the 100m of river bed section which then gets one onto the decosmos road. I will give that a try this year.

  4. I believe you're right Paul. Yup, a must do this summer. Looks like a good challenge as KLXed says.

  5. is this do able in very off road capable jeep?

  6. It's the yellow gates that would stop you more than anything else. I hear they are stopping traffic much more than they were now so who knows when the gate at #20 (on the photo) is open. The only other problem would be the skinny trail at #11. Not sure a jeep would get thru that. If you could get through the gate, then I'm pretty sure a jeep could make it up to the cave entrance. Just make sure it doesn't get locked after you've entered. Let me know if you give it a try.

  7. Awesome ride out on our Mountain Bikes today. Thanks for letting us know about this awesome destination.
    Bill M Nanaimo Mtb Club

    1. Fantastic day for a ride to the mine Bill! Glad you made it out there. ;)


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