This trek was one heck of an adventure in the majestic and haunted Superstition Mountains. For those who love legends, folklore, superstitions, and mystery this is the real deal.
There is said to be a haunted gold mine called the Lost Dutchman Mine. Many many men have lost their lives in the pursuit of the treasure. It is still a mystery. The Apache Indians were said to be the first to set eyes on this terrain. The Spaniards came in after looking for the lost mine.
This website link http://www.lostdutchmandays.org/legend.htm goes into detail about all the history and legend surrounding this wilderness. It answers these eerie questions:
‘What strange secrets lie hidden near Superstition Mountain in Arizona? Did a lone miner really discover a fortune in lost gold here? And what strange force has caused a number of adventurers to die brutal deaths and vanish without a trace in this rugged region?’
We were headed for Weavers Needle. It is said the shadow of the Needle is where the gold and treasure lies. There are books upon books about this. A true treasure hunt for adventurers of all kinds. The terrain alone tells a story of mystery from a geological perspective.
This 3 part series http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/sep/stories/lost3.html talks about the Search for the Heart Peralta Stone tablet Maps that some believe ultimately leads to the mine.
With this Apache blessing in mind myself and 2 comrades set out for the base of Weaver’s Needle.
We started at Peralta Trailhead: From central Phoenix, take Interstate 10 east to U.S. 60 east. Just past mile marker 204, turn north onto Peralta Road and drive 7.4 miles to the trailhead. All but the first mile is unpaved, but the dirt road normally is passable to sedans.
I joined two engineering students, Jonathan and Aaron for this trek. Both avid outdoorsmen and Jonathan with a particular love for the Supes and Weaver’s Needle. He was leading our journey since he had just been out last weekend trying to traverse a new way to the base of the V in Weavers Needle but was unsuccessful. We were hoping to make it today.
We were doing an approximate 16 mile loop with a detour off trail to the base of Weaver’s Needle. Strenuous!! You can see our route in highlighted yellow. We started at Peralta Trailhead but took Bluff Springs Trail #235 to begin our loop. We then connected with Terrapin trail #234 to cut across to the needle. To get to the base of the needle we went past the Weavers Needle Crosscut and had to go off trail and try to find a suitable route of class 3 bushwacking to get to the base of the needle. It was hairy, gnarly, and amazing. Once we finally made it up the East side of the needle we traversed South then West to catch the crosscut trail back to Peralta trail to complete the loop. We were out there for 7 hours in total. We kept a pretty steady pace and stopped for plenty of photo ops.
Let’s begin the adventure:
This is the shot from the beginning of Bluff Springs Trail. We had PERFECT conditions. It was 80 degrees for a high with a light breeze. The wildflowers were showing off along with the rest of the desert from all the recent moisture we have received in Arizona.
About a mile in on Bluff Springs trail. Already the ghosts of the haunted wilderness are appearing. If you look closely you can see a hiker in the trees who must have gone wayward due to his trekking poles. Those poles get ya every time.
Another beautiful shot of Springtime in the Supes.
Bluff Springs Trail. There was quite a bit of water throughout the preserve. I took a digger here- handled it like a pro. Didn’t miss a step and basically did a burpee. I think I may have been tripped by a trekking pole from the ghost hiker.
There are those poles again! You can see our destination, Weaver’s Needle poking through the two ranges.
My comrades Aaron and Jonathan. Jonathan new all the great spots for a good photo op. Both 25 and engineering students they look for good ‘profile’ photos for the ladies!
CCC had to get in on the action. The goat in my element.
There is a sign for the Terrapin Junction about 3 miles and some change from the trailhead. We blew past it- you can see Aaron ahead as we turned around looking for the sign.
Once on the Terrapin trail you are getting closer to the Needle as you can see it right in the middle of this photo.
This is right about where the junction for the Weaver’s Needle crosscut trail connects. You can see the crosscut passage below and to the left of the needle. This will take you back to Peralta trail. We continued up Terrapin trail to try a route up to the needle from a more northern access. Everything we did was off trail from here – danger- adventure- trekking poles and all. It was all climbing and route creating from here.
Great Panorama with our J-Crew Hiking Line Model Aaron in the shot
This is where the bushwacking begins. To this point Jonathan did a great job of trail guiding. He turned the reigns over to me to find a rout up to the V in Weaver’s Needle- or the middle of the heart as the folklore refers to. He attempted it from the South side (on your left in this photo) last weekend with no luck. He was told it is a bit easier to find a way up if you start more from the North side. I was leading and had two very willing followers. It was gnarly. We had a couple pow wows on the way up to be sure everyone was still on board. I was wearing long shorts and knee wool high socks. The terrain found any opening in my attire and left plenty of souvenirs on my legs.
I found a relatively decent line about 3/4 of the way to the Northern end of the East side of the Needle. It was GNARLEY but once we got to this rock slide it was more bouldering than bushwacking. It was a class 3 climb with no trail the whole way up. This was about 3/4 of the way up where I found a rockslide to traverse. We were all very happy to see this!!!
SWEET SUCCESS!!! We named the route the J.A.J Sandwich route. Jessica Aaron Jonathan sandwich. We almost got flattened a few times on our way up.
Panoramic from the bottom of the V in the heart of Weavers Needle. We all took several moments to catch our breath and be thankful for the achievement.
Meditating while elevating. Thinking of the fortune we had to get here without anything other than some scratches and a few bruises.
You can traverse the class 5.6 climb to the top of the needle and camp out up there. We all agreed to attempt this after an 8 mile strenuous hike in was a bad idea. Camping for the night and attempting the climb the next day would be a smarter way of going about it. Jonathan and I are holding auditions for lead climbers and geologists. Treasure hunt anyone???
Once we finished in our awe and amazement of the East side of the needle below the V, Jonathan took back the reigns and played a song about loosing it all considering we didn’t as a good luck charm. We hugged the base of the needle to the South end where we began our decent down the West side to connect with the Peralta Trail. You can see Peralta trail easily at the base of mountain on the other side of the canyon. It can be tricky finding the right spot to cross. Glad we had Jonathan to show us the way.
Speaking of Jonathan, trekking poles, holding hatchets while stumbling and other dangers on the trail – this was his footwear choice, he did this whole rocky sharp traverse in five finger shoes he got at a garage sale. I said he was channeling Cody Lundeen and we began referring to him as so. He was a serious trooper and a lovely, positive and energetic trailmate. I would join him anytime. Both he and Aaron were awesome. We had a spectacular adventure.
This is on our way back down Peralta trail. It was I estimate about 7-8 miles back to our car from West side of the needle. This was a great stop for a view of the Needle and a feeling some serious satisfaction looking at where we had been. This photo is taken from the south side of the needle. We traversed up the East side toward the North end descending down the West side.
If you look to the right of Weaver’s Needle to the top of the mound there is a lone tree- no other trees like it around. Who planted it? Was it the lost Dutchman? Does the shadow of the needle have any bearing on this tree? There is endless mystery and adventure to be had in this wilderness- along with breathtaking beauty and I want to explore more of this story.
The information contained on this web site is not to be considered a guide, instead it is my report of the trails I have done so that you may have a general idea of what to expect on the hikes. I take no responsibility nor assume liability for inaccuracies, errors, omission, or incompleteness of any information.
You are responsible for using your judgment in interpreting and using this information to safely enjoy your own outdoor pursuits. Each trail has its own potential hazards, each needs to be evaluated for each person based on that person’s personal fitness level and other considerations.
Boy Scouts motto: Be Prepared!!