Monday, May 14, 2012

My Favorite Trails, Part II

May 7, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The Superstition Wilderness Area is filled with many beautiful and mysterious areas. Searching out these special places has been a lifetime avocation of mine. I worked on a cattle ranch for several years, hiked the trails as a young man, and continue riding the trails throughout adulthood. My love for the history, beauty and solitude of the region has not diminished in any way. I continue today hiking and walking in the Superstition Wilderness Area, and even enjoying it more because it has been saved from development.

Many years ago, a gentlemen asked me what was my favorite hide-a-way in the Superstition Wilderness. This certainly was a difficult choice for me because I had so many places I loved and cherished within this rugged mountain wilderness of deep canyons and towering spires. Wandering the trails and remote regions of this wilderness was as exciting as gathering the history and legend of the region. After a moment of indecision, I decided to make my choices of favorite locales in the wilderness.

Last week was Part I, and I covered Rough’s Canyon, Log Trough Canyon and Weaver’s Needle. This week, I discuss the rest of my favorites.

I love the ride down into Reavis Canyon from the Reavis Ranch Trail. This ride or hike produces one of the truly scenic locations in the Superstition Wilderness Area. At the end of the trail is the spectacular Reavis Fall, when there is sufficient water flowing over it. The fall drops over a basalt ledge and the water falls one hundred and ninety-six feet into a large plunge pool. The best time to visit this area is during the winter months.

Another favorite trip of mine is a hike or ride to the top of Summit 5024 on the top of the northwest end of Superstition Mountain. I have been climbing Superstition Mountain since 1951. My last trip up Siphon Draw Trail was in the April of 2002.

The hike up Siphon Draw can be somewhat crowded if you do it on a weekend during cool weather. Of course, the higher you are up the trail the fewer people you will encounter. Ninety per cent of the hikers abandon the climb to the base of the first stretch of slide rock. From this point on, the trail is almost vertical and requires considerable care to prevent injury. My last trip up Siphon Draw required almost four hours and thirty minutes to complete. The view from Summit 5024 towards Mesa and Phoenix is spectacular on a clear day. Superstition Mountain is the line of demarcation between rural and urban Arizona.

The other choice to the top of Summit 5024 is by horseback. This is a trip I do not recommend. Yes, a horse can make it to the top of Summit 5024, but it could be the horse or the rider’s last trip anywhere. The endurance of the animal you are riding will depend whether or not you can make it to the top. The average horse is not in good enough shape to make the climb to the top of Summit 5024. The ride to the top includes loose talus debris, shear drop-offs exceeding 500 feet, steep inclines of 50 degrees or more and along trails so narrow there is absolutely no room for error in judgement. A calm horse is a real necessity for this trip. The horse must be accustomed to walking on solid rock, slanted slide rock, loose talus debris and must not become panicked when slipping on rock. I haven’t owned a horse in the past ten years that I would trust on such a trip. The climb to the summit 5024 requires about three hours and thirty minutes and the return trip requires only about two hours. I am certain the Summit Trail is not a forestry system’s trail, therefore, it probably shouldn’t be used. Also, the summer months are not the time to try these trails.

These are my favorite spots in the Superstition Wilderness Area and I am sure other people have their favorites. The beauty of the wilderness is enjoying the solitude and tranquility away from the congestion of our cities, their sirens, traffic and lights. Thanks to the vision of conservators such as Leopold, Pinchot, and Muir, we today enjoy the beauty and solitude of these wonderful wilderness areas. If it where not for men like these, we would be looking at a large hotel on the Flat Iron and cable cars running up and down Superstition Mountain.

For information about the trails on most of these hikes pick up a copy of Jack Carlson’s and Elizabeth Stewart’s book, “Hiker’s Guide to the Superstition Wilderness.” In fact, any serious hiker should have a copy of Carlson’s and Stewart’s three hiking books on the area. Most stores and museums in the Valley carry these books.

(Superstition Mountain: A Ride Through Time, a book authored by Tom Kollenborn and Jim Swanson and originally printed in 1981, has been reprinted in a special paperback Arizona Centennial edition and is currently available at the Superstition Mountain Museum and other local booksellers along with their other book Superstition Mountain: In the Footsteps of the Dutchman.)