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Reavis Trail Canyon Day Hike
Superior
December 4, 2010
by Ted Tenny
  GPS Map 
group
Fifteen finest Trailblazers stand before Sawtooth Ridge.

Last time the Trailblazers hiked Reavis Trail Canyon, we started from Happy Camp Trailhead and walked up the creek until meeting the Arizona Trail near the junction where Reavis Trail Canyon and Wood Camp Canyon flow together to form Whitford Canyon. This time we decided to walk all the way up on passage 18 of the Arizona Trail, as described by Tom Jones and Jerry Sieve on pages 148-155 of Arizona Trail: The Official Guide.

The trail is marked and easy to find. It crosses Forest Road 650 just as the road dips down into Whitford Canyon. Then it meanders in the hill country east of the canyon with fine views of Peachville Mountain to the east and Sawtooth Ridge to the north.

We met two hunters out to get coyotes, but didn’t see any coyotes or any wildlife other than birds and insects.

Catclaw! It has grown over the trail in several places. “Someone needs to come out here with garden pruners and trim the trail,“ Ted observed. We took little detours to keep from getting snagged by the catclaw, and soon reached a pass overlooking the canyons with a distant view of PicketPost Mountain to the south.

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A double-crested saguaro graces the Arizona Trail.
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Not much left of that building in the stone corral.

When we get down from the ridge, the trail crosses FR 650 again and takes us by a crumbling stone corral with the remains of a building. We’re not sure who built those stone walls, but they sure had a lot of rocks to move and stack up.

From here we enter the northern part of Whitford Canyon, then the trail takes us high above the canyon junction. The rest of our climb is in Reavis Trail Canyon, once used as a trade route by the mountain man Elisha Reavis.

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Bright minerals complement the fires of autumn in Reavis Trail Canyon.
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Trees grow out of the rocks.
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Eileen discovers cattails by the waterfall.
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What a perfect place for a picnic!
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Sunlight filters through the brilliant autumn foliage.

Elisha Reavis was the only person of European descent who chose to make his home in the Superstition Wilderness and was neither a prospector nor a soldier. He grew vegetables on his ranch in the wooded eastern part of the wilderness, and brought them to market in Superior on a wagon through Reavis Trail Canyon. Extraordinary survival skills enabled him to thrive and to hold his own when beset by Apaches, journalists, and always, the elements.

He is buried near the Arizona Trail at the foot of Iron Mountain, where his body was found on April 20, 1896.

The Arizona Trail plays hopscotch with Reavis Trail Canyon, first on one side and then the other, for the next few miles. We enjoy the autumn leaves, intricate rock formations, and major-league cairns as we look for the perfect picnic spot.

We found it by a cute little waterfall which actually had a trickle of water on a day when the rest of the creek was dry. Eileen, Rudy and Bill decided to walk on upstream on the trail while the rest of us finished our lunch and started back down. “You’ll catch up with us easily,” I assured them.

We met some Sierra Club hikers who were doing almost the same hike and passed us going both ways.

When we got back to the hilly section of the trail, everyone had a choice of return routes. “If you haven’t had enough catclaw you can walk back on the trail, otherwise you can walk down the road or the creekbed.” Most of us chose the road or the creekbed.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated November 19, 2017