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Goldfield Overlook & Kissing Turtles Arches, AZ
mini location map2022-04-23
29 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Goldfield Overlook & Kissing Turtles Arches, AZ 
Goldfield Overlook & Kissing Turtles Arches, AZ
Hiking14.13 Miles 2,070 AEG
Hiking14.13 Miles   10 Hrs   56 Mns   1.86 mph
2,070 ft AEG   3 Hrs   20 Mns Break
1st trip
We returned to the Goldfields again this weekend, hoping to take advantage of what will likely be one of the few remaining weekends this spring with highs in the 80s. Our main destinations today were Overlook Arch and the neighboring "Kissing Turtles" Arch, with a few other landmarks along the way. We started from Willow Canyon Trailhead, which looked like a junkyard...someone left an abandoned, hollowed-out boat and a dilapidated RV in the parking lot, and the windows were shattered/shot out. I've seen a lot of trash in the Goldfields, but those are the biggest pieces yet...

A few miles into the hike, I went up to check out a cave up in a rock formation that looked fairly deep from down below, but closer inspection revealed it was just a shallow alcove. Soon after that, we came across another feature I'd hoped to see today--a rock tunnel with large quantity of grinding holes of various sizes. That was really nice spot...there there three or four deep, well-formed grinding holes and a bunch of smaller, shallower holes. That was the first sign of native activity I'd ever seen in the Goldfields.

[ youtube video ]

As we got closer to the arches, we passed through a lot of dark, volcanic rock and some interesting formations leading into a dry creek bed that we followed before heading up the slope toward the arches. I'd read some comments about the effort-to-reward ratio being a little questionable for these two arches, but the bushwhack getting up the slope wasn't too bad, at least the route we took--the ground wasn't particularly loose, and the brush was mostly free of thorns and spaced out enough that it was easy to avoid.

However, despite having the coordinates marked on the GPS, it took a little longer than expected to find the arches. Overlook is fairly wide but very short, and we didn't see it from might say it's easy to overlook? We ended up climbing up higher on the hillside than necessary, then dropped down over and around to the east side of a ridge and found Kissing Turtles Arch first, then spotted Overlook nearby. Of the two, Kissing Turtles is the more photogenic, with a larger opening than the flatter, wider Overlook Arch, but both offered some nice views of the Superstitions and Weaver's Needle to the east.

[ youtube video ]
[ youtube video ]

We ended up crawling through Overlook Arch to head down the west side where we'd initially come up. On the hike out, we spotted a few more caves off the trail. The first was relatively shallow, but there was a series of three our four concentrated in one area that were deeper, one of which extended 10-15 feet into the rock. Nearby, I found a few fairly large pieces of pottery, which was a nice surprise...I'd never seen any pot sherds in the Goldfields before today, and that was the second sign of native habitation on today's route :).

The majority of the hike was the typical Goldfield mix of informal trails, roads, and washes, and the bushwhacking section of the hike was relatively short and straightforward. We didn't see anyone until we were back within a mile of Willow Canyon TH and saw two hikers, and theirs was the only other vehicle in the lot besides the abandoned boat and RV. It turned out to be another fun day in the Goldfields...we found everything we'd set out to see, and the grinding holes, caves, and pottery were a nice bonus. It's too bad these temperatures can't stick around for a few more months...
 Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Cactus Wren
 Geology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Natural Arch
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Sun Dog
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