What better way to start 2019, and our new 52 Adventure journey, than a good old fashioned treasure hunt!
The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine is the most famous lost mine in America by a wide margin, seeing nearly 4 times more citations and references than the legend of Captain Kidd's treasure and the Lost Pegleg mine in California. Tucked into the western boundary of the Superstition Mountain Range (itself a destination of much ancient Native lore) this trail is easy to moderate difficulty and offers sweeping panoramic views of the Apache Junction valley and the feint outline of the downtown Phoenix skyline some 40 miles away. Between the Goldfield Ghost town in the near distance, and surrounded by the open range of the Arizona desert, one is easily transported back a century to the time of Native Americans, Cowboys, mining towns, and of course, lost gold.
While it would be my preference to spend 5,000 words on the legend itself, we covered that in a separate post which you can check out HERE. Today we will cover the hike itself and our recommendations for parking, where to take awesome pictures, and where NOT to go.
The easiest way to get to the trail-head is by plugging in Lost Dutchman State Park into your map (duh) but when you arrive to the turn-off for the state park, keep going 100 more yards until you see the right turn lane for N. 1st Water Lane (Google Map Link) you will find parking on the left and the trail entrance on your right.
As you enter the trail you are overcome by the magnitude of the geological formation ahead of you, but just wait ... it looms larger only 15 minutes ahead. There are a couple different routes in this area but they all lead to the main trail system so enjoy your nice, easy stroll among the desert flora.
Soon you will see a sign for '58 Jacob's Crosscut' and this means you are on the right path, keep going another 10 minutes and you are at an intersection of multiple paths. Turn to your left and you will see the first sign of gold, as the sign informs you to take a hard left to continue to 'Treasure Loop TR. NO. 56'. Take a moment to marvel at the massive saguaro to your left. Based on the height and the number/size of arms it is estimated to be around 150 years old!
The trail will begin sloping up gradually at this point and the mountain seems to be right on top of you. This is a great time to grab a photo and will be the last time that you can fit the entire formation into one frame.
Continue on another 15 minutes until the trail begins to incline more rapidly. You should be able to see a notable rock platform to your left at this point not too far off the trail. This is a great spot to grab an initial drink of water and grab more pictures. Do not forget to turn around and take note of your route thus far, you will take in an incredible panoramic view of the valley to the west and Weever's Needle can be seen to your right (due north / northeast).
Across the trail from this rock formation is another trail heading south that takes you to a couple rock formations that have easily accessible ledges that provide great ledges to sit, relax, ponder, and of course grab some pictures for social media. You can manipulate the angles here and make it appear you are cheating death on the height of a tall ledge while impressing your friends and terrorizing your mother.
Continue back on the main trail as it winds up to the base of the mountain. Here you need to decide whether you go left or right. Left is more challenging as the incline increases towards some slot formations and popular rock climbing locations. Going right will continue your journey around the base of the mountain and expansive views of the valley. Depending on the time of year you will have awesome views of gathering weather formations well off in the distance.
There will be many intersecting trails so there are ample opportunities to turn back if your time, water, or endurance begin to run short. On your way back to the car be sure to say so long to Grandma Saguaro one last time and stop into Hitching Post for a slice and a pint. Stay Active My Friends