Phoenix Hikes: The Superstitions via Peralta

Mystery surrounds the story of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. According to legend, Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant who relocated to Arizona in the mid 19th century, discovered a mine rich in gold.

But wait…I thought it was a Dutchman?

Superstition Mountains

At this point in time, Germans were commonly referred to as Dutchmen- derived from the word they used to call their home: Deutsch. See the confusion.

Apparently, he kept it’s exact location secret, but relayed clues with his last dying breaths.  Soon after his death, his caretaker began selling maps of the gold’s location to treasure seekers and explorers alike. Years went by and nothing more surfaced. The whole story may have just faded into history too, but for a man named Adolph Ruth.During the summer of 1931, Mr. Ruth disappeared while seeking the treasure in the area that is now known as the Superstition Mountains. His skull was recovered about 6 months later… with 2 bullet holes through it!

Peralta Canyon Superstition MountainsIt was into this land of mystery and danger that I ventured via the Peralta trail. I arrived at the trail head around 9AM and set off almost immediately.The climb was initially fairly steep and led up a nice canyon lined with Saguaros and Palo Verdes.The top of the canyon was lined with layers of needle shaped rocks and hoodoos reminiscent of Bryce Canyon. Unlike Bryce which is composed of orange and red sandstones, this was a much darker volcanic rock.Boulders littered the upper slopes from when the elements got the best of the resistant rock.

Weaver's Needle Superstition Mountains

Weaver’s Needle

My trek continued up to Fremont Pass where I left the few day hikers I had come across behind. The pass made for a great vantage point and revealed a huge rock outcropping appropriately called Weaver’s Needle. I continued following the Peralta Trail as it wound its way below the Needle. Eventually, it connected with the Dutchman’s Trail, which brought me into an area that I had previously visited. Here, rock fins were replaced with colored cliffs of yellow and red. Along a rare seeping spring, I set up camp for the night. Eating my chicken and Ramen noodles, I read A Dance With Dragons, the 5th book in the Game of Thrones series.

 It turned out to be a full moon and the critters were out and about. Even so, I love sleeping outdoors. You just can’t beat seeing the stars above and having the gentle blow of the wind ease you into a slumber. It’s sure better than a cramped studio apartment with sirens and the commotion of the city! The next morning I woke up early and hiked the final 7 or 8 miles back to the car. It was an excellent way to startmy day and the hiking was wonderful. Whether or not the treasure actually exists, the Superstitions are a great place to spend a weekend and get away from the hustle and bustle of the Phoenix metro.

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Written by Jake G

I'm a 26 year old who loves to hike, bike, backpack, and explore the outdoors. I'm a Midwesterner who currently resides in sunny Arizona. I hope to inspire others with my adventures and maybe give some advice for your future vacations. Follow me as I travel around the country and...
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