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Picacho Peak to Florence via E Park Link Dr, AZ
mini location map2015-03-15
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Picacho Peak to Florence via E Park Link Dr, AZ 
Picacho Peak to Florence via E Park Link Dr, AZ
Scenic Drive avatar Mar 15 2015
Scenic Drive54.01 Miles 1,321 AEG
Scenic Drive54.01 Miles
1,321 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I had decided, once I decided on joining Trish at Picacho Peak campground, that I wanted to take the wildflower route home. I recalled that Mazatzal said the Pinal Pioneer Parkway might have some nice wildflowers blooming so that's where I wanted to go. Now, how to get over there from here :-k . So I googled around and found this E Park Link Drive that looked like it could get me over to the 79.

After my morning hikes I went over to the store under the freeway to see if they could get me going on the right back road to Florence. They asked "why would you want to do that?" Go figure. Well they told me to get on the freeway and I would see the sign to Florence. That's NOT what I wanted. So I got my maps out on my phone and think I figured it out despite the phone wanting to take me the other way too. (I then decided I needed to buy a road atlas for those spur of the moment travel ideas). So I headed SE on the Frontage road (northside of freeway) and after about 5 miles I came to the intersection with E Park Link Dr and headed east. The speed limit was 45MPH but that was just fine with me as I was there to sight see.

I took some video and stopped on occasion to get some pictures. The greatest scene though was looking back at Picacho Peak in the distance. Unfortunately, the place where I stopped to get that picture wasn't the best. But I made up for it with some pictures of the large amount of lupine :) alongside the road. Fortunately there wasn't much traffic and there were several spots one could pull off to take a moment and soak in the scenery.

Eventually I came to the 79 Pinal Pioneer Parkway and headed toward Florence. Not too far from there I ran into the Tom Mix Memorial. I wasn't sure if I would pass by this as I couldn't remember if it was more the other way on the 79. I was delighted I would get to stop. I took some pics and video of the Memorial area:
from wikipedia: Thomas Edwin "Tom" Mix (born Thomas Hezikiah Mix; January 6, 1880 in PA – October 12, 1940 was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies between 1909 and 1935. Mix appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western megastar and is noted as having helped define the genre for all cowboy actors who followed.
On October 12, 1940, after visiting Pima County Sheriff Ed Nichols in Tucson, Arizona, Mix headed north toward Phoenix on U.S. Highway 80 (now Arizona State Route 79), driving his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton. He stopped at the Oracle Junction Inn, a popular gambling and drinking establishment, to call his agent, and then continued toward Phoenix. About 18 miles so. of Florence, Mix came upon construction barriers at a bridge washed away by a flash flood. He was unable to stop in time. The car swerved twice and then rolled into a gully, pinning his body underneath. He had placed a large aluminum suitcase containing a substantial sum of money, traveler's checks, and jewels on the package shelf behind him. It flew forward and struck Mix's head, shattering his skull and breaking his neck. The actor was killed almost instantly.

There were some Brahmas lurking on the other side of the fence so I went over and checked them out before photographing some of the wildflowers. It is a nice tribute to the old western cowboy. I continued on my drive pulling over a couple more times to take some photos of the wildflowers and enjoy the distant view of Newman Peak. As I was getting closer to Florence I saw what seemed to be a huge peak above the Superstitions. I was trying to determine which peak of the Superstitions it was. Well you know what they say about optical illusions.... I kept my eye on that for the longest time until finally I realized it was? do you have any ideas about what I'm ready to say? The answer will be at the end of my trip report.

I was actually also on the lookout for the fields of orange globe mallow that Trish had mentioned when she had come thru Florence. Well apparently those were on the road from Florence to the freeway. However, I had already decided I was going home via the 79 with a possible stop at Boyce Thompson since I would be so close. So the only fields of globe mallow I would see this weekend were from quite a distance as I was hiking the Sunset Vista Trail in Picacho Peak State Park.

a 4 minute video from the drive; a drive I will do again during wildflower season: ... xLJo

Four Peaks
Named place
Named place
Picacho Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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