February 21, 2013

Massacre Grounds

We had a rare snowfall in Apache Junction last night, so I decided before bed that I would wake up early and go hike today in my beloved Superstitions. Knowing that the snow would melt quickly this morning, I chose a north-facing slope to hike along, and the obvious choice was the Massacre Grounds trail. I hadn't been out along this trail since 2010 when the trail was basically following rock cairns alongside a popular target shooting area. The new trail begins at the Crosscut Trailhead parking area along the Firstwater Trailhead dirt road just past mile marker 201 and Lost Dutchman State Park along AZ 88 (the highway that goes to Canyon Lake.) The new trail adds a little bit of length to the hike so it is now nearly 6 miles long for the total up and back to Massacre Falls. However, we weren't interested in doing the entire trail length this morning because we were just snow searching! The snow-tipped mountains and cacti are just stunningly gorgeous together. It's so hard to believe that this area sees temps above 110 degrees Fahrenheit for the majority of the summer. I only passed one other hiker this morning, and he assured me that the waterfall is running so for those of you that want to do the full 3 miles up, it will be well worth it. I went a mile and a half up the trail today and ended near the first set of rock spires to get some beautiful views of the mountains. I stopped by a large, over 6-foot tall, granite boulder, and listened to the snow melt on the nearby bushes like the sound of running water. By the time I returned to the trailhead parking area around 10:30, most of the ground snow was gone, but it's still on the peaks and could make for a wonderful hike through the weekend.

Length: 5.8 miles
Elevation gain: 1000 feet
Dogs okay: Yes
Fees: None
Directions: From metro Phoenix take US 60 east to Idaho Rd. (AZ 88) exit and head north (left) following it past Lost Dutchman State Park and turn right at the Firstwater Trailhead turnoff past mile marker 201. The Crosscut parking area is 1/4 mile on the right and is easily passable without 4WD. The Massacre Grounds trail begins on the far left side of the parking area.

Just FYI, here's a link to a previous post I did about the Massacre Grounds if you're interested in the history:

Jojoba bloom
Lichens likin' snow
Four Peaks