Gamble With Paradise
FR 287A is a single lane dirt track in fair condition. We stashed our mountain bikes at the trailhead for Trail 203 (the upper terminus of the Haunted Canyon Loop) then continued on approximately 1.8 miles to the trailhead for Paradise Trail 271. The trailhead has parking for several cars (we saw no cars or hikers the whole day) but is poorly marked. The trailhead signage is located 100 ft up a bare earth hill and is not visible from the road. Without GPS we may not have located the trail as quickly.
We loaded up and almost immediately entered a wonderful, refreshing environment with rich black soil, tree leaves covering the ground like a mid-fall day in New England, and with the smell of peat as if we had been transported to a different part of the United States. The trail was very easy to follow being broad and generally flat as it switched back and forth across the stream. The hike was one of the quietest hikes I've ever been on; no human sounds, no gravel/rocks under our feet, no distant sounds of aircraft or autos. It was almost quiet enough to hear your heart beating. We found plenty of flowing water in sections of the streambed. The first 1 1/4 miles are an easy stroll with a gain of 400 ft elevation. As we reached the upper end of Trail 271 we broke more and more above the tree line, the vegetation changes more to higher altitude desert growth and the soil yielded to the typical Arizona gravel. The rate of gaining elevation increased to a more typical climb. We found snow from a storm a week earlier and had some mischief with it. We wonder how long the "snow-cairns" will last.
We reached a crossing trail at a high spot with a view of the mine tailings in the distance. Our GPS and our dead reckoning indicated this to be the cross-trail to 203. Heading east we quickly lost the trail. In hindsight we are not sure there is a true connecting trial. GPS confirmed we were on or crossing this "trail" but it clearly was bushwhacking our way to the east. It was somewhat rough going. There were plenty on "cow pies" marking out avenues to take. We left cairns at what we felt were key spots to help somewhat for future hikers. At a barb wire fence we could see trail 203 off about 100 feet in the distance.
The downhill trail seemed to be the steepest terrain of the day but no big deal. As we descended the gravel gave way to improving moist soil and again we entered a world of quiet. Less water was in this stream bed. The last mile of the trail is almost level and is a easy, smooth, and again the smell of northern woods.
Our mountain bikes were pulled from the stash and be coasted downhill the final 1.8 miles to our truck. This is a truly a unique hike taking you into a lush environment not easily found in the southwest. The quiet is awesome! There is plenty of time spent above the tree line to view these mountains and rock features in a more remote section of the Superstitions.
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.