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Superstition Wilderness

April 21st, 2014 · 10 Comments

Dale and I hiked 45 miles through the Superstition Mountains this weekend, in 71 hours, from near Superior to Roosevelt Lake. I hadn’t intended to hike it so fast, but water was scarce and we had to go long distances each day to get to the next reliable water source.

The first day we hiked from Picket Post trail head, near Superior. That day was all in the desert, but the sky was cloudy and temperatures mild. We hiked 12 miles, and just as we were getting worried about finding water, we found water. There was quite a bit of it in rocky pools. Not moving, but clear. Dale filtered it and it was good.

Getting Water

The next day was probably the nicest, though we had quite a climb. We climbed up to Roger’s Trough (where Richard, Dale and I set out on our backpacking hike a couple of years ago), and went up from there to over 5000 feet elevation. The vegetation slowly changed from desert to scrub oak, and then suddenly we went over a pass and found ourselves in a ponderosa pine forest.


It was unexpected and delightful. I didn’t realize that ponderosa pines grew in the Superstitions.

We hiked a few more miles (12 in all for the day) and found ourselves at Reavis Ranch, which Elisha Marcus Reavis established in 1872. We explored around a little, looking at the antiquated farm equipment, though Dale said some of it was newer than he had been using on the farm. I later found out that it had been redeveloped for tourism in the 20th century, but finally burned down and abandoned in 1991.

We found a nice campground near the ranch and close to running(!) water. I was surprised to find running water in the Superstitions after the drought we’ve been having, but there it was, cool, clear and tasty.


We had some excitement each day. Every day we were hiking except the last morning when we were off the trail before 10, we encountered a rattlesnake. Two of them were as large as I have ever seen in Arizona — around 4 feet long and 2 inches diameter. The other was a young one, maybe 8 inches long.


The third day was the hardest. We knew that the next reliable water was 15 miles away, and it turned out to be 15 very difficult miles with very steep climbs and steeper descents on loose rock. I fell 3 times coming down hills, while Dale barely managed to keep his feet. The trail has not been maintained, and there were prickly pears, catclaw acacia, cholla, agave, and mesquite overgrowing the trail that we had to push through. Both of us have severely scratched legs, and Dale bears the scars from a “Christmas cactus” (a kind of cholla). He was dodging a wicked agave that had spines sticking out at shin height, and swerved directly into the cactus which I then had to pull out with pliers. I’m surprised we both didn’t get stuck worse than we did, or even fall into one of the prickly pears we were swerving around.

It was a very long day, and we were beginning to worry about not finding water before dark, or worse running into another rattlesnake in the dark. We came across a couple of brackish pools but decided to push on and finally a little before dark found a stream flowing clear and cool. It wasn’t flowing fast, but fast enough. We camped on a grassy bank overlooking the stream.

The next morning was pretty easy as we got an early start and arrived at Dale’s car about 9:30. Tired and hot, but satisfied. It was a good hike.

Tags: Family Updates

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Richard // Apr 21, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Sounds like you two had … fun?

  • 2 Donna // Apr 22, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Dale has a pretty sore knee from your excursion. I have ordered him off his feet today with ice and IB, so we’ll see if he minds me. Glad you had fun, and didn’t get snake bit.

  • 3 Donna // Apr 22, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Looking at that section of the trail on Google maps, it appears there is a lot of burned area. Is it still damaged?

  • 4 Daryl // Apr 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I forgot to mention the scorpion that Dale caught trying to climb into his rolled-up sleeping pad the first morning.

    We passed through one largish area of burn and another small area. It was all in recovery; nothing recent.

    We did have fun! A little less strenuous would have been even more fun, but it was worth it.

  • 5 Don // Apr 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    I guess Dale decided he would leave the story telling to you this time. It was a very good one though.

  • 6 Dale // Apr 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Daryl did such a good job of telling about our hike I may just copy and paste it into my blog as a guest post.

  • 7 Donna // Apr 23, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Then we can all copy and paste our comments!

  • 8 Heather // May 12, 2014 at 6:21 am

    I have fallen into a prickly pear cactus and can assure you it is not fun! Glad you all enjoyed your hike!

  • 9 Daryl // May 13, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Heather, your comment got spammed for some reason. Sorry!


  • 10 Mom // May 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I remember that fall, and the resulting ER visit, the pain and misery following.

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