Fossicking On The Trail
In the broad definition, prospecting is the search for minerals, oil, flora, or fauna so in one way or another everyone on the trail is prospecting. The Lost Dutchman State Park has a trail system for nearly all abilities. Named for Jacob Waltz, the fabled Lost Dutchman, even the easiest trails in this park can give you an up close personal experience with the Superstition Mountains. As you experience these trails imagine the old prospector who historically would be on his hands and knees inspecting and combing thru the washes, ridgelines, and rock outcroppings looking for the color gold, or other minerals.
To describe the Prospector trail as short would be a disservice because the only thing it is short on is distance. The trail can be accomplished in either direction and can be used in a variety of ways to create larger loops within the park.
Described here in a counterclockwise fashion (south to north) starting from the Siphon Draw Trail you turn left or north onto Jacobs Trail #58. In one quarter mile you come to a marked T intersection. Turn right and you are on the Prospectors trail. The trail will take us to the Treasure Loop Trail #56. Awesome views of the Flatiron high above Siphon Draw will inspire your photography ambitions. Take your photos now as the Flatiron will soon be out of sight. Late afternoon or evening sun can offer fantastic variations of special effects on this most dramatic face of the Superstitions.
The trail is a moderate climb and gains 317 feet in the next 0.6 miles. Rocky and sometimes loose footing describes the trail as it climbs up compacted scree which has come off the mountain over the centuries. Ahead and to the right are tailings from the Palmer Mine. Equipped with binoculars you can easily spot some diggings. Equally viewing the towering crags in front of you with bionic eyes you may spot some wildlife and natural caves.
At one quarter mile there is a bench which should encourage you to turn around and look how far up you are from the valley. You can see the skyline of downtown Phoenix from here on a clear day, the Goldfield Mountains, the Goldfield Ghost town, South Mountain and the San Tans to the south. After the switchbacks and just past the second bench at 0.4 miles an unmarked trail to the right is the trail to the Palmer Mine although it is much easier to access off the Siphon Draw trail. Reaching the highpoint of the trail gives you additional views of Four Peaks to the north. Arriving at the third bench marks the end of the Prospector trail as the Praying Hands feature looms above. Joining the signed Treasure Loop Trail #56 at this point offers options on your return to the trailhead.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.