Arizona Trailblazers at the Cloudview Trailhead
On a cool and sunny Saturday morning in early January, eleven Arizona
Trailblazers are ready to hit the Lost Goldmine Trail at the base of
the Superstitions and pause for a quick group picture at the Cloudview
Trailhead. From left to right: Julie, Bertha, Doug E., Doug L., Cassady,
Michael, Craig, Kathy, and Jenni. Hike leader, Chuck Parsons, is the
Michael and his trusty four-legged companion, Zeke, are anxious to hike
and are already 100 yards down the trail, patiently waiting for the
rest of us to arrive. The Superstition foothills are beckoning.
It’s time to start hiking!
First trail view of the Superstitions
With an ideal hiking temperature of 60 degrees and not a cloud in sight,
we couldn’t ask for a better day to hike the spectacular
Superstition Mountains — land of mystery, legend, and enchantment.
Today’s hike will be a joint effort with the Sierra Club,
involving a car key exchange and lunch somewhere along the middle of
Eleven Arizona Trailblazers are hiking east from the Cloudview Trailhead,
while 13 Sierra Club hikers, led by Ted Tenny, are hiking west from the
Lost Goldmine Trailhead.
If everything goes according to plan, we’ll all arrive to find
our own vehicles awaiting us at the other end of the Lost Goldmine Trail,
skirting the base of the rugged Superstition Range along its entire
Next to catclaw acacia, once referred to as “cowboy’s
sorrow” because of its vicious curved thorns that are capable
of scratching and ripping the flesh of both two and four-legged
passers-by, teddy bear chollas (commonly referred to as “jumping
chollas”) are the second most-feared prickly vegetation of the
These two prickly desert plants are responsible for more scratches
and flesh wounds than all others, and every hiker with enough miles
and years logged onto their boot soles has a few tales of
woe to tell about painful encounters with both.
The last of the morning’s dew is quickly evaporating from this
cholla as its ultra-sharp needles reflect the rays of the morning sun.
Teddy Bear Chollas — up close and dangerous.
By popular demand, we decide to take a short side trip up Hieroglyphic
Canyon to explore the numerous ancient petroglyphs etched into the
canyon walls and to see how much water is still flowing in the canyon
as a result of earlier heavy rainfall in the Superstitions.
As we head north into the canyon along a ridge line and start hiking
in deep shade, a cold wind blowing from the upper canyon quickly drops
the temperature 10-15 degrees and most stop to pull on an extra layer
After 1.4 miles of hiking and gaining about 600 feet of elevation, we
finally arrive on this scene deep in the canyon and find many other
hikers already in the area.
Water is still flowing, and we estimate the depth of this pool to be
six to eight feet deep at one end.
The water is ice cold and crystal clear, and with a proper filter
would make excellent drinking water.
Gathering at the pool.
Most experts agree that these intriguing petroglyphs carved into the
canyon walls are the work of Hohokam Indians who occupied this area
from approximately A.D. 700 to A.D. 1100 and then mysteriously vanished
for unknown reasons.
Although many of these petroglyphs are scattered along the canyon walls,
we are running short of time and need to return to the main trail to
rendezvous with the Sierra Club folks for lunch.
Due to the hard work and dedication of many concerned individuals
interested in protecting and preserving these ancient drawings for
future generations, in 1994 Hieroglyphic Canyon was listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
Drawings of the ancients.
Trailblazers on the move.
Once we exit Hieroglyphic Canyon and merge back onto the Lost
Goldmine Trail, we need to start making up for lost time so our
Sierra Club counterparts won’t begin to wonder what happened
Besides, we also have the keys to their vehicles parked back
at Cloudview, and they can’t go anywhere without us.
Wedding Cake. [photo by Ted Tenny]
Nor for that matter can we go anywhere without them since they also
have the keys to our vehicles parked at the opposite end of the trail.
We waste no time now as we hoof it to our rendezvous point for lunch
and the critical key exchange.
But we also take some time to enjoy the magnificent scenery of the
Superstition foothills and snap a few pictures along the way to
capture the moment.
Rendezvous and lunch break
We finally meet up with the Sierra Club hikers and sit down together
to rest and break bread.
Michael H. uses the opportunity to hold an
impromptu technical seminar on rocket science and space travel for a
captive, but curious, audience of hikers from both hiking clubs.
All too soon, we part company and head off in opposite directions to
our waiting vehicles.
But as the following picture shows, there’s still plenty of
spectacular scenery to enjoy along the way.
This six-mile stretch of
the Lost Goldmine Trail between the Cloudview and Lost Goldmine
trailheads is a great introduction to the Superstitions for new hikers
to the area, as well as a terrific all-around hike for everyone.
Parting look at the Superstitions
Kathy stands at the base of the largest saguaro we have ever seen in
This behemoth is located near Lost Goldmine Trailhead and serves
as a great landmark to let east-bound hikers know they are now only
minutes away from the trailhead.
Since these huge saguaros are typically 200 years or more in age, this
one was probably well-established with several arms when Abraham
Lincoln was President and the Civil War broke out in 1861.
We once counted over forty arms on this giant before finally giving
up in frustration since they are clustered so tightly towards the
center and become hidden from sight that it quickly becomes a lesson