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Picketpost Circumference
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mini location map2012-03-22
18 by photographer avatarAZLumberjack
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Picketpost CircumferenceGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 22 2012
Hiking3.00 Miles 906 AEG
Hiking3.00 Miles   3 Hrs   30 Mns   2.00 mph
906 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This was a fun but short hike along the Picketpost Circumference Trail, through old Pinal City and up Perlite Road to the abandoned Perlite Mines. My brother Doug and I pulled off Hwy 60 on a rough Perlite Road (24D3) and followed it down to Queen Creek. We parked the truck along the creek that was flowing at a pretty good rate following the rains of a few days ago.

We got our gear together and found a narrow stretch of creek where we could step on the large rocks to safely cross to the other side. We found ourselves in an old part of the long deserted Pinal City. Now showing only a few concrete foundations where a town of about 2,ooo people once lived and worked in the later part of the 1870's.

Pinal City, as it was then known, was a milling center for Silver bearing ore from the close by Silver King Mine. But when the mine played out in late 1880's the town quickly went into decline. Then in 1891, the post office closed causing the demise of the once flourishing town along the Northeast side of Picketpost Mountain. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum presently sits where parts of old Pinal City once stood. It would be easy to spend an entire day wandering around the shaded creek bed and hills in the shadows of Picketpost, wondering what it must have been like living here 150 years ago.

We followed some ATV trails up to the base of the cliffs along the South side of the old city site where we found a series of alcoves that showed signs of ancient habitation. Rock walls had been built using mud as mortar, much the same technique as at other ruins. The walls had partially fallen or were knocked down and have been sloppily restacked in recent years. But some of the lower levels of rocks appear to be very old and there are several sets of grinding holes close by. Upon closer examination, pottery shards could be found in the areas of the ruins.

After wandering around the base of the cliffs and ruins for a while, we found a narrow canyon that led up alongside the face of the cliff. The canyon brought us to the top where some cars were parked at a gated road block. We continued along a foot path for a short distance until we came upon an area where exposed perlite was being worked by "tears" searchers.

Four people were working the face of the exposed perlite with small hammers to dislodge the Apache Tears, it looked interesting so Doug and I joined in to see what we could come up with. Doug continued scratching for the black glass stones while I walked on down the trail to see what else was around there. The trail ended at a steep decline that led to a series of caves.

The caves (mines) were guarded by a high chain link fence with razor wire along the top edge. The signs warned against entry due to falling rocks from above. The old mines once supplied Perlite which, once processed, is used as insulation and is a component in suspended ceiling panels. Shipping, processing and competition from abroad (China) forced the closure of the inaccessible mines and the operation has moved a short distance East of this location to a series of strip mines. The Apache Tears, are a natural "sometimes occurrence" within the Perlite.

We left the Perlite diggings with our pockets bulging with assorted sizes of the shiny black stones and headed back downhill to the truck. It's a good thing we parked in the shade, because the sun was getting high and warming the desert around us. We sat on the tailgate where we had lunch, drank a beer (or two) and talked about the fun we had exploring the history rich area.

I would highly recommend this hike to anyone who is interested in the mining history of Arizona, just be aware that the old townsite is now little more than a local dumping grounds and ATV trails are everywhere. I don't believe the water in the creek is safe for drinking as the strip mine is a short distance upstream, and it's hard to tell what may be discharged into it.

At this rate, it's going to take more than one, or two trips to complete the Circumference Trail, but it should prove to be fun and interesting.
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On every trip into the Superstitions, I find another Gold Mine. Today the mine was filled with Memories. I can not wait for the next trip.
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