Oh, the mystique of the Superstition Mountains. Located just east of Apache Junction, the Superstitions precipitously rise 3000 feet above the desert floor to form some spectacular cliffs, cliffs born from volcanic eruptions of long ago. This is where we traveled to hike the Black Mesa Loop, a 10-mile loop that offers something for everyone, open desert, great views of Weaver’s Needle, rough, craggy cliffs, as well as forests of jumping cholla cacti, ocotillo and saguaro.
Once on the desert floor, a 360° view helps one to understand why so many have become lost for days out here and some have never returned from this wilderness area that comprises 160,000+ acres. Just this past November tragedy struck when a plane crash into the face of the mountain claimed 5 lives.
There is much mystery surrounding the Superstition Mountains and the most renown folklore is that of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Legend has it that during the 1800’s the Peralta family of Mexico operated an incredibly rich gold mine within this wilderness area. A mining party returning gold ore to Mexico City was attacked by Apaches, with only one surviving the brutal attack. Many decades later this miner revealed the location of the Peralta family mine to Jacob Waltz, who came to be known as the Dutchman.
There is some truth to the tale, as Jacob Waltz was born in the 1800’s in Germany and immigrated to the United States, working as a miner in the Arizona Territory. Allegedly, on his deathbed Waltz told his caretakers about the mine and where it could be found. The mine, he said, had enough gold to make millionaires out of 20 men.
For the past 120 years many have searched for this mine in some of the most rugged wilderness area of the U.S. Forest Service and some have lost their lives trying to find it.
The Superstition Mountains offers some spectacular vistas and a multitude of hikes to choose from and respecting this rugged wilderness is key to staying safe.
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