Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction, Arizona
The Superstition Mountains are located just east of Apache Junction, a suburb of Phoenix. The mysterious name conjures up all kinds of Indian spirits and legends of lost gold in the hills. Stories of the Lost Dutchman's gold still draw plenty of prospectors to the area. The mountains themselves provide an abundance of hiking trails and grand vistas in the beautiful Arizona Desert.
The two most well-known trails in the Superstitions are the Siphon Draw and the Peralta. Siphon Draw climbs nearly 3,000 feet in 2.5 miles (most of the elevation gain is in the last mile) and can challenge even the most avid hiker. It starts in the Lost Dutchman State Park and climbs straight up through a gully on the west side of the mountain. It's perfect for the hiker who hates switchbacks -- there aren't any! At the top, a flat outcropping aptly named "the Flatiron" rewards those who make it up there with some of the best views of the Valley of the Sun. Above the Flatiron, there's an even higher peak that yields panoramic views of the Superstition Wilderness area.
The longer but less difficult Peralta Trail explores the eastern side of the Superstition Mountains. It winds along the base of the mountain and takes hikers to a point called the Fremont Saddle from which you can get an exceptional view of Weaver's Needle. Legend has it that the Lost Dutchman's gold is hidden somewhere near there.
Below are pictures from various trips I've taken to the Superstitions (mostly Siphon Draw since I'm a sucker for a challenging hike).
On a recent hike, Rachel brought along her cool jester hat. Here she is at the waterfall area on Siphon Draw. This smooth and often tricky part of the trail marks the beginning of the really steep part of Siphon Draw, and it's where many people stop and turn back. Not us! We must press on.
The last trip I organized had over 40 people in attendance. This is about half of them, most of whom are my friends from ASU and work. This photo was taken on the Flatiron.
The spring of 2001 was excellent for wildflowers due to an unusually abundant rainy season in the winter. Here is a photo of the Superstitions with millions of golden Mexican poppies in the foreground. The round pointy rock in the middle of the photo is the Flatiron, at an elevation around 4,800.
Here I am taking a water break somewhere in the upper reaches of Siphon Draw.
In April of 2000, we were lucky enough to hike the Superstitions while there was a rare blanket of snow on top. This is at the Flatiron looking toward the higher peak. Outstanding in the snowfield are Doug, Danielle, Roxy, and me.
Snowy cactus, an uncommon sight in the desert.
As we climb higher from Flatiron toward the peak, we encounter many large boulders such as this one. Here I am next to a couple of blooming century plant stalks. (It doesn't take 100 years, but it's a LONG time nevertheless.)
Doug and I conquer our fear of heights on top of the Superstitions.
A great shot of the snow-covered Four Peaks in the distance framed by a prickly pear in the foreground.
Looking toward the peak from Flatiron. The white snow contrasts with the dark rocks on a beautiful April day.
This is the profile of the Flatiron, jutting out into space. From the tip, you get an amazing panorama of the Phoenix area.
Doug, Roxy, Danielle and I at the Flatiron. The snowy Four Peaks in the background.
Come on Chris! You can do it! Just a little further!
Rajan, Cheryl, Chris and I pause for a pose against the Flatiron on our way up.
John, Annette, and Dave resting at the waterfall. Nice profile shot.
Hehe, I've always wanted to climb Weaver's Needle! This shot was taken from Fremont Saddle on the Peralta Trail.
Robert is resting in the precious shade offered by a cave along the Peralta Trail.