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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

MASSACRE GROUNDS

MASSACRE GROUNDS Superstition Wilderness UPDATE: The forest service has closed the access road to the Massacre Ground trailhead (Forest Road 28). Hiking in the area is still possible with access via the Crosscut trailhead. However, route-finding skills are essential. If you could pick a place to be slaughtered this is about as good as it gets, but, there’s not an ounce of gold or scattering of bones to be found along the informal path that leads to the site of a famous ambush in 1848 where a group of Spanish miners met their demise at the hands of a band of irate locals. Gory history not withstanding, the expansive solitude and varied path make this trail a real treat to explore. Climbing gently along a well-worn path, the route winds through the remnants of 35-million-year-old volcanic activity. Contorted lava flows, volcanic necks and rugged washes shaded by desert trees and shrubs complement wide-open views of the surrounding wilderness. Four Peaks Mountain is a constant feature on the horizon. The trail dead-ends at the massacre site where a hoodoo-encrusted ridge shades a deep, narrow canyon below. Views of the rock formations of Lost Dutchman State Park get up close and personal, and there are many informal spur paths to add length to the hike. LENGTH: 3 miles round trip ELEVATION: 2100 – 3200 feet RATING: off trail, route-finding required GETTING THERE: UPDATE: it is now necessary to begin this hike from the Crosscut Trailhead. The road leading to the old Massacre Ground TH (FR 28) has been closed. Hike at your own risk. From Phoenix, head east on Hwy. 60 to Apache Junction and take the Hwy. 88 (Idaho Road) exit. Continue left (north) on Hwy. 88 past the Lost Dutchman State Park to First Water Road where there is a “First Water Trailhead” sign. Turn right onto First Water Road and continue for just under a mile to unmaintained FR 78. There’s a sign at the junction that says, “congested area, no target shooting” and also a “no camping” sign. Turn right onto FR 78 and follow it heading southwest for 0.6-mile to the Crosscut Trailhead on the right.
INFO: Mesa Ranger District, Tonto National Forest, 480-610-3300
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=35455&actid=50

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