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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Superstition Mountains

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/19/2021
Posted: 8/15/2009
Topics/Keywords: #Arizona #Photography #Places #SuperstitionMountains Page Views: 295
Michael and I celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday with a trip through the Superstition Mountains.

One of our favorite day trips is along the Apache Trail through the breathtaking Superstition Mountains. Today, in a belated celebration of Michael's sister, Surya's, birthday, we made that trip again.

The trip began around the corner from us, in Apache Junction, Arizona, where we get on State Road 88, passing by the touristy ghost town of Goldfield and the Lost Dutchman State Park. We drove by beautiful Canyon Lake, and stopped, as usual, in the little town of Tortilla Flat where we had lunch and a cone or cup of unique and delicious prickly pear ice cream.

Tortilla Flat is the last surviving stagecoach stop on the Apache Trail. It has a population of 6, and one cluster of buildings, reputedly originated by the Lost Dutchman himself, Jacob Waltz. (Waltz was German, not Dutch; the German word for German—Deutsche—was responsible for the confusion.)

In any case, today's photos begin with a massif located across the road from the restaurant.

Massif in Tortilla Flat, Arizona.

After lunch we continued along AZ-88, the paved portion of which ends just a few miles east of Tortilla Flat. However, the unpaved portion is graded monthly and is generally no problem to drive.

Shortly past the ending of the pavement is a scenic rest stop (and last bathroom until Lake Apache). We stopped to enjoy the view, which included some ripe prickly pears.

Ripe prickly pears.

The stop includes some interpretive plaques identifying some of the mountains in the distance, the plants at our feet, and the history of the place.

Surya and Michael read an interpretive plaque.

Paul doesn't need an interpretive plaque.

The stop is located at the top of a rise, and the interpretive trail (which is paved and accessible to most persons with disabilities) leads out along the spine of the rise, providing views of the canyons below.

View from interpretive trail, AZ-88 east of Tortilla Flat. View from interpretive trail, AZ-88 east of Tortilla Flat.

When we continue up the road, it will be down a very steep set of switchbacks into Fish Creek Canyon. From the top we can get a hint of what the road has in store for us.

View from interpretive trail of AZ-88 further east of Tortilla Flat.

While Surya appreciated the view from the railing, Michael and I took a quick side-trip along a tempting trail.

Side trail off AZ-88.

To prove we were there, Michael and I took turns taking pictures of each other. I was lucky to have the more attractive subject! To make up for that, I chose the more challenging photo spot.

Paul on outcropping, near AZ-88. Michael, waiting to exhale near AZ-88.

We then returned to the car, enjoying that walk as much as the one from it.

Backlit saquaro at the AZ-88 interpretuve trail.

We made our way carefully into Fish Creek Canyon, then on toward Lake Roosevelt. We did need to make a primitive pit stop along the way, which provided an opportunity to capture another spectacular bit of Arizona color.

Spectacular colors along AZ-88.

Apache Lake, the most remote of the chain of man-made lakes along the Salt River, lies one mile north of AZ-88; and the road provides a breathtaking view of it.

Apache Lake, Arizona.

We didn't take any more pictures as we were covering ground we've covered (and photographed) before. We did continue Lake Roosevelt, headed north to Jake's Corner and then back through Sunflower to Surya's apartment where we dropped her off.

If you live in the Phoenix area and are wondering how to spend a lovely day, I can definitely recommend this trip.