While there are a number of Reavis hikes on HAZ this is historical and part of the 800 mile Arizona Trail from Mexico to Utah. It is historically significant as it was the closest settlement in the late 1800s where Elisha Reavis could take his produce from his ranch to sell. There is no easy way into Reavis Ranch. An old wagon road (a 9 mile plus hike), since mostly grown over, from the north that starts from an Apache Lake overlook, plus an approach from the south taking FR 172 and 172A for about 14 miles on extremely rough road followed by a 6.1 mile hike down Rogers Trough and up over a ridge and down to the ranch.
The questions remains did Reavis want his ranch that out of the way or was the site the most conducive to growing his produce. It is said to be the only place in the Superstitions that has guaranteed water year around. Anyway, from 1874 until his death in 1896, Elisha Reavis did take lots of his produce from his ranch to Rogers Trough and then down trail 509 over Montana Mountain and on down the creek bed to what is now Superior. Hence the name Reavis Trail Canyon. Originally the settlement was called Hastings until the Army established Picketpost, then the area was called Camp Pinal and Pinal City and finally Superior from 1900 on. The largest silver mine in Arizona was located here. For awhile it was quite a boom town.
The probable reason there have not been writeups about trail 509 is that it is quite difficult to get to the trailhead and then it is an out and back unless one wants to do the steep switchbacks over Montana Mountain.
Our group of 15 met just off highway 60 at about 9 AM. The temperature was in the 40s and a very cold wind was blowing. We drove for 5 miles to a turn out where we could park. We bundled up from the cold and wind and then went north up Whitford Canyon until a jeep road took off to the right and the trail sign indicated the trailhead for 509 and a large sign describing this part of the Arizona Trail. We hiked up the Reavis trail Canyon until we reached a bleachers type formation where we had lunch before returning. From the lunch site the Reavis Canyon Trail starts its climb for just over a mile up over Montana Mountain and drops down to Rogers Trough.
The hike is scenic with rolling hills and lots of vegetation. The area is quite geologically different from the western Superstition cliffs and hoodoos. It still is a wonder how Reavis was able to get his produce down that trail with many creek crossings. I will try to give the best directions I can to get to this trail. From where we parked it was an 8 mile round trip. I would rate it moderate as there are a number of grades when one leaves the creek bed. I also mentioned that this is a small section of the Arizona Trail. Another obvious indication that you are on the Arizona trail is that there are many, many carins along the route and most are quite major in size with piles of stones up to 3 feet high like a series of miniature castles to guide your way!
This is not a spectacular hike that has drop offs and crags and spires but it is a very interesting one that has history and one then knows you have been on a bit of the actual Arizona trail. The hike time is about 6 hours RT including lunch. When approaching Montana Mountain one can see the path of an old wagon road high up along the mountain that ultimately comes down to highway 60 near Oak Flat. You also will see some fences, an old rock corral with a fallen down metal shack and even a ranch area with a ranch house and corral with a fenced area. People say it still is in use but I could not see much evidence of it. Lots of history in this area.
Forest Tonto Pass is a forest wide permit for recreational sites and campgrounds. Typically not for trailheads.
To hike Take highway 60 east toward Superior. About one half mile west of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum(before you get to the arboretum) there is a road sign on the left that says Hewitt Station Road. You turn north across a cattleguard and there is s clearing on the right. Almost immediately you will turn right on Happy Camp Road (sign hard to see). Use your odometer and go 2 miles on Happy Camp Road where you will turn left. There is a mark that says FR 650 but easy to miss. Happy Camp Road is FR8.
Then go up FR650 for exactly 3 miles to a turnout on your left where one can park a number of cars. You can go on up FR650 for a way but the road gets rougher and rougher with high clearance problems. Start hiking up the road and you will reach a sign for Trail 509 that goes down to the left. The key to finding the right place is that your odometer should read exactly 5 miles from the highway 60 turnoff to the parking area on FR650. For the 5 miles a passenger car can make it but I would not advise is. Better an SUV. Four wheel drive not necessary unless some water is running in some of the shallow creeks as there is some sand.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
Warning: heat kills!
Avoid 8am to 5pm over 90 degrees. Prehydrate & stay hydrated. Avoid Heat Illness - do NOT hike when temps exceed 100 degrees, period.