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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Bushwhacking The Monolith
Monument Canyon lies at the Southwest corner of the Superstitions directly beneath the southern side of the Flatiron. Man made monuments are often built to impress or leave you in awe. Monumental refers to something extraordinary in size or power. The massive rock monoliths guarding this canyon stand as a warning. Heed the warning if you are simply looking to stretch your legs. Pay no attention to the distance of this hike. It will certainly take most of the day. Route finding skills will be put to the test. It is a rough, rocky trail followed by a brutal bushwhack with bouldering and canyoneering into an area few others have visited offering yet another side of the mysterious Superstitions with the hint of some obscure history.
The easiest access to the Monument Canyon Trail is from the Broadway trailhead. Take Jacobs Crosscut Trail #58 one mile north of the Broadway trailhead. You pass the Lost Goldmine Trail at the 1/2 mile mark, bear left and continue 1/2 mile to the Y intersection simply marked "trail". Jacobs Crosscut #58 bears left. The Monument Canyon Trail starts here, bear right. The rocky trail continues and in sections resembles more of a jeep road with a double track. The mature vegetation grows thicker as the elevation increases. No doubt you will be curious about the cave high on the mountain off to the right but that is another adventure. As you get closer to the mountain it becomes obvious that someone has cleared large amounts of rock and created piles of rocks lining both sides of the trail. There are piles of rocks everywhere and the trail seems to disperse in several directions. The area is worth checking out and most trails meander around this immediate area and take you to an old homestead. Basically all that remains is a stone fireplace, some sheet metal, and a depression in the ground perhaps a latrine. My research indicates a German miner resided here in the early 1900's. His mine remains in the canyon ahead. There is no trail from this point.
Bushwhack towards the northwest from the chimney and cross the rocky wash. A steep climb up the embankment on the left at this point will make for a relatively easy way to the mine. Follow the embankment north using the faint animal trails. At one point it even seems there may have been a crude road here at one time. Soon some mine tailings will appear. Make your way up to the mine tailings, an old fire ring and admire the mine. Research indicates the old German was looking for gold but probably found little. It is more likely there were some concentrations of silver here. The mine is interesting and deep enough to require a flashlight. Now move about 100 yards to the north on the highpoint and look into the canyon ahead plotting your route. Binoculars are a great asset on this hike. In 1919 it is reported that a stone statue was located and removed from this canyon so follow your curiosity. There are a couple choices down from the embankment. Each is steep with scree but not too bad. Cross the wash towards the northeast and work towards the north on the east side of the wash. Long pants with long sleeves are desirable but with full sun exposure year round can make for an uncomfortable day. A cool, cloudy day would help make this a perfect adventure.
After a short distance you come to deer habitat with scat and bedding areas all around. Follow the deer trails towards the center of the wash work up onto the boulders to avoid all the vegetation in the wash. You can walk the boulders for quite a while eventually exiting towards the right side of the wash again. Shortly you will cross left into the middle of the wash again up on the boulders. Look far ahead and see a simple cairn high on the boulders. Head for that cairn. The canyon now seems to Y with a mountain in the middle. Perhaps you will notice some metal reflecting in the sun from this mountain in the middle. This is some wreckage from a World War II training aircraft which crashed in this canyon April 10, 1948 at 6am. The Cholla covered steep mountain makes it nearly impossible to get up to it. Save your energy for the actual impact site. Continue up the canyon staying tight to and left of this mountain in the middle. Shortly you will cross left into the middle of the wash again and begin following the now slick rock wash up and over several steps and obstacles. The canyon narrows and the walls close in. Stay observant and perhaps you will spot more pieces of the airplane scattered about obscured by vegetation. Just past the sheer steep walled cliff on the right look for the mature multi-armed saguaro to point the way to the aircraft impact site. Don't let curiosity dictate your actions-respect the site. Continue on up the canyon for an increasingly more intimate view this side of the flatiron. For those that have looked down from the flatiron or from the ridgeline hikes, this certainly adds a new perspective. With your senses on overload and thoughts about more substantial footwear return the way you came.
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