Westerners Explore the Superstitions

April 28, 2017

By Curt Kommer

Superstition Mountains - View from Lost Dutchman Campground

The Sedona Red Rocks offer some of the finest hiking in the world, so it would have to be a very special alternative to lure the Sedona Westerners away from these spectacular local hiking trails.  This spring, though, the promise of a banner year for wildflowers, flowing water, and the rugged landscape of the Superstition Wilderness provided sufficient enticement for a group of 15 Westerners to try exploring new trails and a unique destination.

Just over two hours driving from Sedona, the Superstition Wilderness (40 miles East of metropolitan Phoenix) consists of 160,000 acres of ancient volcanic landscape carved by time into extraordinary spires, hoodoos, and deep canyons, all peppered with saguaros and chollas, and everywhere colored by the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine and hidden treasure.  The area offers over 50 well-signed hiking trails, with multiple trailheads easily accessible from campgrounds and roads.

The Westerners chose to sample the area with two challenging hikes:  the climb to Flat-Iron Peak and a loop hike to Weaver's Needle.

Flat-Iron Peak (at 5,000 feet) towers over the Lost Dutchman Campground, and the rocky, scrambling Siphon Draw Trail steeply ascends 2,600 feet to the plateau-like summit.  From there, 360 degree views are the reward before descending to complete the 8-mile out-and-back.  The trail follows a rugged ravine and proved hard to follow at times.  Imagine fifteen Westerners heading in different directions, all convinced they are on the right track, and then picture the laughter, beer, and sense of accomplishment when safely back in camp.  Flat-Iron Peak is the signature hike in the Superstitions, and well worth the effort.

Weaver's Needle is another iconic volcanic landmark in the area, and the following day it gave the group a chance to follow an old miner's track around the 1,300 foot spire.

A short drive to the Peralta Trailhead began a 9-mile hiking loop of incredible beauty following the Bluff Springs, Terrapin, and Peralta Trails.  Recent rains had translated into flowing water in a number of arroyos, and blooming Poppies, Paintbrush, Brittlebush, and Desert Broom lined the streams and trails throughout the route.  As the group followed a little-used section of the track the leader suddenly stopped and held up her hand.  In Sedona this almost always means "Rattlesnake!" but on this day, in the Superstitions, it meant "Giant Desert Tortoise!", a rare sighting.

The Superstion Wilderness can be accessed by taking Hwy 60 East from Phoenix to Hwy 88 North (Exit 196), and the Ranger Station at the Park Entrance is extremely helpful with any camping or hiking questions.  While Sedona Red Rock hiking cannot be topped, the Superstitions offer a distinct and different destination for Winter and Spring adventures that the Westerners thoroughly enjoyed.

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