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Old Apache Trail Loop, AZ
mini location map2015-12-18
20 by photographer avatarAZLumberjack
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Old Apache Trail Loop, AZ 
Old Apache Trail Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 18 2015
Hiking5.57 Miles 1,022 AEG
Hiking5.57 Miles   4 Hrs   12 Mns   1.78 mph
1,022 ft AEG   1 Hour   4 Mns Break
1st trip
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A road to Nowhere :scared:

Earlier this month, I was going to hike out of Tortilla Trailhead but the cold temps, the stiff wind and a light rain forced me to change my plans. As I was driving back towards Tortilla Flats, I noticed a Jeep trail heading off-road into the Superstitions so I decided to check it out. I had to click in 4X4 to get up the loose and rutted entrance but once up, the trail improved but I parked my truck and got out my hiking gear to explore the road on foot.

I was impressed with the trail and wondered who would go through all the time and expense to build a road to....What or Where! The road went on for less than a mile where I came to a dead end at a bridge abutment crossing the wash I was following. The bridge had been long removed but I could see that there was a continuing road on the opposite side going up the slopes. The only thing I could imagine at the time, was that this route was originally intended as the Apache Trail Road and, over subsequent years and improvements, was abandoned :o

Following that brief hike, I stopped at the Bluebird Store and talked to Lewis about the "Road to Nowhere", he told me that at one time, this was a section of the original Apache Trail, now lost to time and forgotten by most travelers. With my curiosity peaked, I studied TOPO maps and Satellite imagery of the area and wanted to explore the remainder of the road. I had a loop hike almost finalized when Ray Huston contacted me this week about a hike. I explained this one to him and he was game to give it a shot, so off we went.... exploring :D

Ray and I drove out to mile 215 (approx) of the Apache Trail and turned off on the rutted entrance to the unnumbered Jeep trail, parked the truck and geared up for a day hike. The road is in good condition for a high clearance 4X4 and has a couple of suitable camping areas along the way. The road follows a wash providing lots of scenic views of the local mountains and out as far as Four Peaks in the distance, until coming to the old bridge abutment, now another good camping spot.

We climbed down the steep, rocky slope, crossed the wash and back up the other side leaving us on the road once again. There were very few signs of use by hikers or hunters on the road and, as we found out, for a good reason. The gradual uphill slope of the road was clogged with heavy undergrowth, rock slides and washout sections but none proved to be impassable. Along the way, we checked out an exposed section that had been reinforced with concrete blocks, re-rod and cement... all still in good condition after all these years.

Once up on the plateau, the road kinda fizzled out and was difficult to follow but Ray had a plan... just follow the rusted tin cans and busted bottles. This seemed to be almost as reliable as following cairns :) Now, more exposed, the winds picked up to the point where it was hard to keep your hat on but the sun was bright and warming. The exploration was interesting and fun, we found the remains of a low section of stacked rock wall, even a Merrell hiking shoe :-k The road was visible again following sloping side hills but we often encountered loose rock piles that looked like they were dumped to prevent use of the road.

As the old road nears the present-day Trail, there's a super deep, super narrow slot canyon that demands closer observation. Unfortunately, the canyon's so narrow that the deepest depths would only be visible when the sun would be aligned perfectly to light it up, so for us, everything down there was cast in dark shadows. The old finally meets the new and our road disappeared at a scenic viewpoint. At one time, posts were embedded into the solid rocks along the edges to provide a safe(?) viewing area of the canyon and the mountains beyond.

So far my hiking plan had worked perfectly, now we had to get back to my truck :doh: Sure, we could always backtrack, but what fun is that? So we crossed the road at a concrete structure by the power lines and began following a Jeep trail under the power lines. This was going fine until...Crap, cliffed out :o Decision time again. We searched until we found a suitable slot where we could climb down to a lower shelf then side-sloped until we saw a step ladder that we could have used :doh: We made it down, crossed the wash and back up the other side where the Jeep trail continued, until.... Yup, cliffed out again :scared: More searching for a way down, led us to some cliffs about 40 feet directly above the Apache Trail, we followed these cliffs until, thank you Lord :worthy: we found a tricky scree trail leading down to the road. Enough of this scrambling, we hiked the blacktop the rest of the way back to the truck where I had cleverly stashed a couple of cool brews :whistle:

After unwinding, settling our nerves and stashing our gear, we drove back, stopping at the Bluebird for a burger, fries and, yup, a cold beverage :) Thanks bunches Ray, it was a fun hike with pieces of challenge thrown in for good measure... we gotta get back there and refine the return route though.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
Some trees down in the lower washes were showing signs of color.
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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