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Friday, January 16, 2009

BLACK TOP MESA

BLACK TOP MESA Superstition Wilderness In 1888, an anonymous Spaniard etched mysterious codes in the rock veneers on the summit of Black Top Mesa. So did some guy named Frank in 1954. The Spaniard’s hieroglyphs are well hidden on the mesa and are rumored to lead to a cache of gold. Adventurous treasure hikers can take advantage of cooler, winter temperatures to enjoy locating the glyphs and (however improbable) striking it rich. The Superstition Mountains are the product of ancient volcanism that resulted in high mesas, breccia-filled trails and craggy ridges complete with twisted and towering hoodoos. Along the trail, Sonoran Desert plants add foreground color to the knarled rock formations as well as a sweet fragrance indigenous to Arizona trails. Most hikers opt to turn back at the Bull Pass junction. Ambitious trekkers may continue all the way to the 3,354 ft. summit of the mesa, where human history and nature compete for attention. On the summit, reach-out-and-touch views of Weaver’s Needle, the signature natural feature of the Superstitions, are priceless. Bring a lunch. You will want to linger long enough to contemplate life and decide where you will go to buy your lotto tickets, for surely, Frank beat you to the gold. HIKE DIRECTIONS: Follow the Dutchman Trail 4.5 miles to the Bull Pass Trail junction. Follow Bull Pass Trail 0.6 mile to the saddle and look for a primitive path heading uphill to the right. Follow this unmaintained trail 0.6 miles to the summit of Black Top Mesa. LENGTH: 11.5 miles, roundtrip. RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 2,300 - 3,300 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go east on US60 to the Idaho Road exit, turn left and follow the AZ 88 signs heading toward Lost Dutchman State Park. Roughly 0.25 mile past the park entrance, go right on First Water Road (FR 78) and continue 2.6 miles to the First Water trailhead at the end of the road. Accessible by passenger car---there are a few rough spots, though. FACILITIES: restrooms. NO fees.

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