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Monday, March 25, 2019

Legends of Superior Trails: Arnett Canyon Trail segment

Legends of Superior Trails: Arnett Canyon Trail segment
Arnett Creek is a key feature of the LOST system
Picketpost Mountain looms over the LOST 
The new LOST trail segment connects with the AZT
“When I first hiked the Legends of Superior Trails, I had no clue how awesome they are,” says Mila Besich, Mayor of the Town of Superior.  “After the hike, I felt like crying but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the overwhelming beauty or because I had gone nearly nine miles,” Besich laughed. 
Hikers descend a steep section of the new Arnett Canyon Trl. 
Speaking at the March 24, 2019 inauguration of the new Legends of Superior Trails (LOST) Arnett Canyon segment, Besich acknowledged the many individuals and organizations that contributed to the planning and construction of the fresh-cut, 1.5-mile trail section that connects with the Arizona Trail at the Picketpost Trailhead off U.S. 60. 
A steep, narrow section of the trail.
Arnett Creek flows through volcanic terrain.
While leaders at the Tonto National Forest, Resolution Copper, Arizona Trail Association and the Town of Superior did the governmental and land management red-tape wrangling, young American Conservation Experience workers did much of the shoveling and sweating to build the singletrack path that can be hiked as a loop or a one-way trek to the historic Pinal Townsite that’s part of the LOST system of interpretive routes that explore the town’s history and mining heritage.
Hikers in Arnett Canyon
Wildflowers grow among outcroppings of volcanic ash.
Although the mountain-bound community sits in the heart of the mineral-rich Copper Corridor just an hour east of Phoenix where mining is a core industry, Besich is quick to point out that the area’s treasures extend beyond its ore.
Mila Besich, Mayor of the Town of Superior in Arnett Can.
“We’re not a mining town. We’re a town with a world-class mine,” she emphasized.  Cognizant of the boom-and-bust nature of the mining business, the town ranks its natural outdoor assets as being as important as any commercial enterprise. The improvement and expansion of the LOST hiking hub is part of the town’s diversification objectives to boost the economy while staying true to their roots.  “The project is a marathon,” Besich said. “LOST is a start, and we envision Superior becoming home to the next best hiking destination in Arizona.”  This ambitious goal includes plans for a 110-mile stacked-loop trail system that will wind through rugged back country and the Queen Creek-Arnett Creek watersheds south of town. The project—which will use the LOST system as an anchor-- is currently in the planning and permitting process and if all goes well, construction could begin in the next couple of years.  In the meantime, hikers can enjoy the many miles of outstanding existing trails in Superior. 
Situated at the crux of two of the state-traversing Arizona Trail’s most spectacular desert passages that meet at the base of volcanic Picketpost Mountain, the newly completed Arnett Canyon Trail segment is a segue to a landscape of amazing biodiversity, history and complex geology. 
Globemallow bloom along the trails.
The segment begins near the site host campsite with an uphill walk and views of the Superstition Wilderness. Other than a short section where the trail descends steeply on a narrow, rocky ridge that’s not recommended for bike or equestrian use, the hike is effortless.
Hikers on the LOST loop approach the Picketpost TH 
Where the route brushes the flanks of Picketpost Mountain, hikers might be inspired to climb to its 4375-foot summit by way of a sketchy and difficult spur path off the Arizona Trail.  At the 0.6-mile point, turn right and pass through a gate to complete the 1.5-mile loop. Or, to extend the hike, continue straight ahead into Arnett Canyon for a drop-dead-gorgeous, out-and-back creekside trek smothered in greenery and pillars of petrified volcanic ash.  It won’t take too many miles of hiking to understand why Besich says this enchanting trail system is, “a dream come true” and a key inspiration for the reimagination of a desert town.
LOST is just the beginning of a planned hiking hub.
Volcanic rock formations in Arnett Canyon
Superstition Wilderness vistas seen from LOST
LENGTH: 1.5-mile loop
RATING: easy
ELEVATION:  2461 – 2342 feet
Picketpost Trailhead:
From U.S. 60 just before entering the Town of Superior between mileposts 221 and 222, turn right at the Picketpost Trailhead sign and continue 1 mile to the parking area. Roads are paved and maintained dirt suitable for all vehicles. There is a restroom at the trailhead. The trail begins near the site host campsite.
Legends of Superior Trails
Arizona Trail

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