Superstitions of the Superstitions

The Superstition Wilderness is one of the long-suspected homes to the Lost Dutchman Mine, and a good deal of folklore surrounds it – much of which I ignored in the book for space considerations.

My personal theory is that the earthquake in the 1890’s wiped out whatever hole in the ground Jacob Waltz was pulling gold out of. Even so, the area is not geologically promising for gold. The most likely source is the Peralta expedition,¬† a Spanish column which supposedly hauled gold across the region when they were assaulted by Apaches or Yavapai (probably Yavapai).

The wilderness area, established in 1940, covers 160,000 acres of rugged mountains, and can be roughly divided into the western, or lower Supes, primarily covered in desert, and the eastern or higher Supes, primarily covered with transition chapparal or pine forest. The western edge butts up against the eastern edge of the Phoenix metro area (namely Apache Junction) and this accessibility has made it one of the most visited wilderness areas in the system. Conversely, there are parts of the central and eastern Supes where they may never find your body.

Hiking in the Superstitions is all about water, even in the cooler months. It’s the middle of February right now in Phoenix, and our high temp was 89F. Many springs are notoriously unreliable. Find out first. (HikeAZ – link to the right – has a going chat board on that very subject.)

There are only a few trailheads, all in the western portion, that can be reached in a late model Buick Century. All of the others require at least HC, probably 4WD. A few are simply impassable in foul weather.

The Forest Service has a decent over-view pamphlet – free at any ranger station. Also, if you want to explore these mountains in fie detail, pick up Hiker’s Guide to the Superstition Wilderness by Jack Carlson and Elizabeth Stewart. (not a Menasha Ridge title – you’ll have to copy/paste/google yerself).

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