You should never let a routine and potentially boring trip to visit an in-law go to waste. When Dianne asked if I would like to go with her to Phoenix to visit her nephew, I didn’t hesitate to say, “yes.” In between visits to the nephew we did the following, highly recommended hikes.
Bring your Sonoran Desert guide book so you can learn of the plants and animals on beautiful display. Also, bring lots of water.
There are excellent views of Phoenix and although you will see plenty of other hikers you will not feel crowded.
The next day we talked the nephew into hiking “The Flatiron” with us. “The Flatiron” is a famous and crowded hike into the Superstition Mountains and up onto a very flat mountain top that has spectacular views of the Valley below. You can see Apache Junction, Mesa, Tempe, and Phoenix all spread out before you. The hike is tough in sections and should not be attempted unless you are fit and strong and don’t mind climbing and scrambling over boulders for a solid three miles. Remember that going back down is much harder than going up. The trail is marked by the tremendous traffic that it gets and also by some idiot that took it upon himself to spray paint directional arrows on rocks. Please practice “leave no trace” ethics. This climb is in a wilderness area and nobody wants to see your graffiti and trash left here.
We had a day off from the nephew and decided to do a little road trip on the Apache Trail. This trail is actually a driving route that has about thirty miles of dirt road that follows along the Salt River and through the Superstition mountains. The trail starts in Apache Junction and ends at the Roosevelt Reservoir and dam and is very scenic and worth the time. Here is a link to a page describing the Apache Trail. http://phoenix.about.com/od/daytrips/ss/apachetrail.htm Once at the Roosevelt Reservoir we headed south to the Tonto National Monument and visited the Salado Indian Ruins that the monument is preserving. The monument also has exceptional picnic areas and is well worth the three dollar admission price. The lower dwellings are open to the public and well worth the short hike. The upper dwellings are only open during certain times of the year and only on days that have scheduled tours, usually on the weekends. Check the monuments website for information. http://www.nps.gov/tont/index.htm
You can now drive home the way you came or if you are too tired to do the dirt road again then continue south and head back to Phoenix by going through Globe and picking up US highway 60 west.
We then headed back to the Superstition Mountains and hiked up into Peralta Canyon. This trail is beautiful but I suspect that it is very crowded on weekends. We showed up on a Thursday and the trailhead parking lot was full. But the trail was very clean and two volunteer rangers in the parking area kept the area in spectacular shape. We hiked to Freemont Saddle and the view down into the valley beyond and the prominence of Weaver’s Needle was awesome. A picnic lunch at the top was a great way to spend an hour or so. Here is a link to some information on Peralta Canyon. http://www.arizonahiking.org/component/content/article/84-superstition-and-mazatzal-wilderness/197-peralta-canyon-freemont-saddle
When we arrived on a Friday morning both the Echo Canyon and the Cholla Trailheads were full. There is no parking at the Cholla trailhead but you can park on nearby N. Invergordon Rd. But even this parking was full for over a mile. So, we decided to skip Camelback and head back to South Mountain Park. We went to a different trailhead and had another great day.