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Thursday, April 15, 2010

LOST GOLDMINE TRAIL

LOST GOLDMINE TRAIL Superstition Wilderness--kinda Looking for a place to indoctrinate your friends from Ohio to the glories of the desert Southwest--without the hassle of extreme terrain, bushwacking and befuddling routes? Then, try the Lost Goldmine Trail for a stress-free yet brag-worthy place to bring your out-of-town pals for an easy, photogenic hike. There’s no telling how many shots of this trail may have appeared on holiday cards sent from the Midwest. I’m guessin’---billions. One of the newer trails to grace the desert just outside of the Superstition Wilderness Area, this easy route is (when compared to other trails in the area) a leisurely stroll. Mostly flat and well-signed, Lost Goldmine Trail is a big draw for hikers, bikers and folks on horseback. Situated at the base of some truly magnificent volcanic cliffs, the route passes through pristine Sonoran desert terrain. Because of its non-challenging nature and excellent specimens of saguaro, jojoba, cholla and manic spring wildflowers, this scenic path makes for a classic desert outing. Expect lots of human company when hiking this trail from Fall through Spring---add snakes to the mix beginning early-April. LENGTH: 5.75 miles one-way RATING: easy ELEVATION: 2,000 – 2,100 feet BEST SEASONS: October - April GETTING THERE: West Trailhead: From Phoenix, go east on US 60 to Kings Ranch Road in Apache Junction. Turn left (north) and follow Kings Ranch Road to 2.8 miles to Baseline Road. Turn right and follow Baseline to Mohican, turn left and left again on Valleyview. Go 1.5 miles on Valleyview to Cloudview, turn right and continue to the large, signed parking area. Roads are paved up to the last 1.5 miles and are sedan-friendly. East Trailhead: From Phoenix, go east on US 60 to about 8 miles past Apache Junction (near mile post 204) and look for the “Peralta Trailhead” sign on the side of the road. Turn left onto Peralta Road (Forest Road 77) and drive roughly 7 miles to the signed trailhead on the left. FR 77 is maintained dirt with a few rough spots. Although passable by sedan, high clearance vehicles are recommended. DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 45 miles INFORMATION: fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/wilderness/superstition

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SHOOFLY VILLAGE RUINS

SHOOFLY VILLAGE Tonto National Forest Located on the northern edge of Houston Mesa, five miles north of Payson, Shoofly Village archeological site offers visitors a glimpse of an ancient Arizona culture. The 4-acre compound is comprised of 87 ruins occupied between 1000 and 1250 C.E. by people who farmed and hunted the surrounding high-desert grasslands. A network of paved trails winds among crumbling foundations, courtyards and a massive prehistoric “condominium” while abundant interpretive signs, picnic ramadas and restrooms make for a convenient and educational day trip. LENGTH: 0.25-mile loop RATING: easy, accessible ELEVATION: 5,240-5,280 feet BEST SEASONS: March - November DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 105 miles one way GETTING THERE: From Payson, go two miles north on State Highway 87 north to Houston Mesa Road, turn right and continue to Mesa del Caballo where there’s a sign for the ruins. INFORMATION: Call (602) 225-5200 or visit paysonrimcountry.com/MountainRecreation/InterpretiveCenters/ShooflyIndianRuins/tabid/141/Default.aspx