Monday, November 25, 2013

FAQ About the Superstitions

November 18, 2013 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

I taught a class about the history, geology, fauna, flora and legend of the Superstition Wilderness Area for more than twenty-five years here in Apache Junction. This week and last, this column covers the twenty most commonly ask questions about the area. Questions 1 through 10 appeared in last week’s edition of The News, and today’s column features questions 11 through 20.

For more information about the Superstition Wilderness Area check out the City of Apache Junction Library and the Superstition Mountain Museum.

11. Are there any working gold mines in the Superstitions?
There are no working (profitable) gold mines operating within the boundaries of the Superstition Wilderness Area. The only gold mines that ever existed in the immediate area were the mines associated with the Superstition Mining District—mines such as the Mammoth, Bull Dog, and Black Queen, just to the west of Superstition Mountain proper. Visit the Goldfield Ghost Town and see the nostalgic remains of old mining equipment and hear the stories about mining in area.

A hike up Peralta Trail provides a spectacular view of Weaver’s Needle.

12. What is a wilderness area?
A wilderness is a piece of public land set aside in its natural state and preserved for future generations of Americans to see and experience. The Superstition Wilderness Area encompasses some 159,780 acres of land in the Tonto National Forest. The region includes part of three Arizona counties, Gila, Maricopa and Pinal.

13. Where can I see Weaver’s Needle from the highway?
Weaver’s Needle can be seen from both State Route 88 (Apache Trail) and U.S. Highway 60. Approximately 7.0 miles northeast of Apache Junction at a new vista point is the best view of the "needle" from a paved highway.

14. Are permits required to visit the Superstition Wilderness?
The Superstition Wilderness Area does not require a permit to visit. First Water and Peralta are popular trail heads to visit.

15. What agency regulates the Superstition Wilderness Area?
The Tonto National Forest Ranger District under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture.

16. What is the easiest way to see the Superstition Wilderness?
The quickest and easiest way to see the Superstition Wilderness is by helicopter, but this method is very expensive. The cheapest method is hiking the enormous trail system of the wilderness. There are more than 140 miles of improved system trails in the Superstition Wilderness Area. To use the trail system you must be prepared to do a lot of hiking or horseback riding. The best time of the year to hike the wilderness is between November and April.

17. How many miles of hiking trails are there in the Superstitions?

There are 140 miles of improved system trails in the Superstition Wilderness Area and approximately 100 more miles of unimproved trails that do not appear on maps. Trails that do not appear on forest service maps are not considered system trails and are not maintained in any manner.

18. How high is Superstition Mountain above sea level?

The highest point on Superstition Mountain above sea level is 5,074 feet. This is Southeast Superstition Peak. Summit 5,024 is the second highest point on Superstition Mountain.This point is directly above Lost Dutchman State Park. The highest point in the wilderness is Mound Mountain at 6,242 feet above sea level.

19. What is the difference between Superstition Mountain and the Superstition Wilderness Area?

Superstition Mountain is one specific geographical location (landmark) within the Superstition Wilderness Area, immediately east of Apache Junction. The Superstition Wilderness Area is a region of some 242 square miles (159,780 acres) containing many lesser mountains and some even higher mountains than Superstition Mountain.

20. Where can I get information on the Superstition Wilderness Area?
The Mesa Ranger District has excellent maps of the Superstition Wilderness Area. Contact the Mesa Ranger District, 5140 East Ingram, Mesa, Arizona 85205, at (480) 610-3300.