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Coffee Flat Mountain, AZ
mini location map2012-03-29
44 by photographer avatarFLYING_FLIVER
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Coffee Flat Mountain, AZ 
Coffee Flat Mountain, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 29 2012
Hiking10.20 Miles 2,157 AEG
Hiking10.20 Miles   6 Hrs   50 Mns   2.11 mph
2,157 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break18 LBS Pack
1st trip
Partners none no partners
There's a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey benchmark atop Coffee Flat Mountain in the Superstition Mountains, and that was my main incentive for this hike. I wanted to document and photograph "CIRCLE" Triangulation Benchmark and it's two reference mark disks, that were "monumented" up there in 1946. I also wanted to find and photograph the Azimuth disk for CIRCLE, that was put in place the same year, but in the desert below, near a previous alignment of the Dutchman trail. (More on the azimuth disk later)
Another incentive for the hike was viewing various Superstition landmarks from a different vantage point. That's always alot of fun.

In order to get to the benchmark area on Coffee Flat Mountain, I attempted to follow the route the original surveyors used in 1946. They actually started from the Quarter Circle U Ranch and worked their way to the Dutchman trail, then to Whiskey Springs trail. I started on the Dutchman trail at Peralta trailhead, and also proceeded to Whiskey Springs trail, so I hiked the last 3/4 of their route. This triangulation benchmark is named after the Quarter Circle U Ranch.

Once past the Dutchman trail intersection with Coffee Flat trail, and just after the four or five switchbacks (and noticeable ascent), the Dutchman trail makes a 90 degree turn to the north-northwest. Off to the left (west) is Miners Needle and immediately off to your right (and up) is Coffee Flat Mountain. You actually are hiking on the side of Coffee Flat Mountain, while on the way up to the Miners Summit area.

Ironically, the Dutchman trail has had a few realignments since 1946, but it still follows the same general routing to the Whiskey Springs trail intersection, as the surveyors used. I took Whiskey Springs trail for about 1/2 mile then bushwhacked up to the right (south), since I was now on the other side of the Mountain. I easily found the triangulation mark and its reference mark #1. They're both right on the narrow ridge-line and you can't miss them. Reference mark #2 was more challenging. I used the surveyor's datasheet to help me find it. It was hiding in a brush-filled location and far off the ridge-line. All three disks are in great shape.

The views of various Superstition landmarks from atop Coffee Flat Mountain are awesome. It's interesting to view Miners Needle and Cathedral Rock etc from above. The full side-view of Peak 5057 and all the associated Hoo Doos is also unique.

On the hike back to the Peralta TH, I couldn't believe my eyes. Lying across the trail was a huge saguaro cactus. It hadn't been there, earlier in the day, when I hiked past the area. Examining the decayed 5 ft portion that was still vertical, it was easy to see why it met its demise.

Now for the Circle Azimuth disk. :(
I initially did a very short off-trail search for this disk, while hiking on the Dutchman trail, on the way to the mountain top. I didn't find it. On the hike back, I looked again and still didn't find it. It's location is difficult to pin down. The surveyor's 1946 datasheet makes direction & distance references (for the azimuth disk), relative to the previous alignment of the "trail" (as they called it), and also makes reference to a cairn nearby, plus a 30 ft cactus nearby. It's been 66 years since they wrote the datsheet, so I'm sure the cairn is gone, and the 30 ft cactus may be gone or now among many others. That original trail section has probably been overgrown too.
I'm not giving up on the CIRCLE Azimuth disk though. Soon, I'll devote a whole hike to either finding that elusive disk, or convincing myself that it's gone.
Again, another excellent hike in the Superstitions.
Addendum to the CIRCLE Azimuth disk. :y: :D
I found it on a hike (19 Jan 2013). I devoted the whole hike to finding the Azimuth disk and finally I located it along a previous alignment of the Dutchman trail.
This previous trail alignment is all but gone from existence - the desert has reclaimed it - as the present trail was modified more than 50 years ago. CIRCLE Azimuth disk is in excellent shape - See added photos. :)
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
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