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Lost Trail Wander, AZ
mini location map2016-02-28
5 by photographer avatarblack_toes
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Lost Trail Wander, AZ 
Lost Trail Wander, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 28 2016
Hiking6.52 Miles
Hiking6.52 Miles   4 Hrs   33 Mns   2.03 mph
   1 Hour   20 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The Lost Trail truly became a lost one on this warm Sunday afternoon. We lost it not once but twice. The last time was for good and we ended up bushwhacking and crawling under a half dozen fences before finally reaching our destination as daylight closed.

A mapboard of Lost Trail at Picketpost TH was clear as can be. The trail runs W from the airport landing strip at Superior via the ghost town of Pinal City to the Arizona Trail, N of Picketpost TH. I estimated the distance 5-6 miles. Much of it lays N of U.S. 60 where a massive construction project is under way.

It was the first time I'd done a shuttle in years. We parked MJ's car at the busy Picketpost lot, drove my Civic up to the crude landing strip via the highway and left from there about 1345 with plenty of water, a couple of sandwiches and some energy bars. I knew well the first part of the Lost Trail since I'd hiked it four days earlier in a fruitless search for Pinal City. We passed through the ranchland. No horses this time and only a couple of cows bawling at us. We soon came upon Pinal City, one of our objectives.

At Pinal, we explored Mill Hill, checking out the old foundations and the iron and tin artifacts laying about. Stayed about 30 minutes, before heading N on dusty Perlite Rd, which apparently deadends now at the HW. Still following the colorful Superior Legends Trails post we turned right off Perlite at and went up to the wagon tracks that cut about a 8-10 inches through rock. Figured this had to be remnants of the wagon road of 125 years ago between Pinal City and the Silver King Mine. Within 100 yards N of the wagon tracks, the trail and signs vanished. There was nothing we could see that would get us under U.S. 60 to the N where the trail supposedly coursed W again toward the AZT. This was the first time we lost the trail.

After bushwhacking a short time to the E along the highway construction zone, I discovered a newly-built culvert going under the highway at the end of a deep ravine. To reach it we had to crawl under the first of a half-dozen barbwire fences we would encounter. The culvert arced slightly to the left and was in total darkness. Half-expected to find someone living in there. But it was clean with only a large water hose going through it. On the other side, relief. Up a slight incline to the left was a gate and beyond that was the trail with sign posts going up over a rise. Apparently the original route was destroyed by the construction.

The trail was beautiful at this point, winding upward through palo verde, mesquite, prickly pear and a sprinkling of wildflowers. But at the rusting Magma RR tracks, we made a fateful decision and lost the trail a second time.

We crossed the tracks to what seemed a continuation of the Lost Trail but it soon petered out, and we ended up walking a mile or so on a rough road under transmission lines. No sign of boot soles in the soft dirt. Only the treads of big truck tires. Looking back on it, we likely should've gone left at the RR tracks and not crossed them. But there were no signs, no cairns, and the fake trail looked so enticing.

What ensued next were a series of futile downhill recons toward the RR tracks, looking for the trail. The road's path was pulling us farther away from the tracks and the HW. Not a good sign. But there to the S was Picketpost Mountain and Boyce Thompson Arboretum. While we weren't lost, I could not envision a short path back to the car at Picketpost TH. If we just kept going W, I knew, we'd eventually run into Happy Camp Rd and later on, the Arizona Trail. It was late in the afternoon when we stopped briefly to eat along the road. Later we dropped down to the RR tracks and walked the ties for a bit.

At Happy Camp Rd, we ran into a woman walking up the road and a guy on an ATV going down, the first humans we'd seen since a couple on horseback near Pinal City. We had only about 45 minutes of daylight left, when I found a ravine and a culvert going under 60. It was, to my mind at least, a logical shortcut to Picketpost TH. After crossing under several more fences we bushwhacked our way to the top of a high hill where I could survey the land. I pulled out my binos and saw several cars about a half-mile off. A closer looker showed MJ's car parked between two others. It was rough going from there. Cattle trails, more bushwhacking. But we finally made it to Picketpost TH at 1811, about 13 minutes before sunset, an interesting day at an end.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Blue Dicks and small patches of golden Poppies et al.
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