Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Apache Trail, Roosevelt Dam and Copper Hill - February 7, 2010

Superstition Mountains, Arizona
**UPDATE - 2019** The Apache Trail is closed between Tortilla Flats and Roosevelt Dam due to wash out after the Woodbury fire.  It is unknown when or if the trail will open again.   

So Sunday morning rolled around.  Randy and I were tired.  We wanted to sleep in.  Haha - anyone with kids knows that means we get to sleep until 6:30 instead of 6:00.  The girls, Bailey (6) and Raquel (10), wanted to go riding on the quads. 

SO - we compromised.  We went on a "road trip" on the Apache Trail, and promised the girls we'd go riding in two weeks!

So at roughly 10:30 in the morning, we set out for the Apache Trail.  We stopped at QT for slushies, and we were on our way!

First stop, the Goldfield ghosttown.  One of the most commercialized ghosttowns I've ever been to.  We watched a gun fight, visited a bordello, went to the Mercantile and loaded up on old fashioned candy.  Randy and I were itching to head up the Trail, so we didn't stay long - just long enough for the girls to look at some old mining equipment, Bailey to complain about the noise of the gun fight, and both girls to get some old fashioned candy sticks.

Canyon Lake
And again, we were off.  The Superstitions were absolutely stunning.  The recent rainstorms had made the mountain side explode with beautiful green leaves and brush!  As we wound through the beginning of the Apache Trail, we began to get a few little glimpses of Canyon Lake.  It was a beautiful day, the lake looked full and fairly clear.  The girls were exclaiming "oooohhhhh - look!  Can we go in???".  

We stopped at the East end of Canyon Lake and watched the ducks swim around for awhile, then we were on our way again, with hopes of lunch at Tortilla Flat.  That hope was dashed as we drove up and saw 50+ cars parked down the road in front of the bar/restaurant.  We all agreed that a Tortilla Flat burger would have to wait until next time.  We drove on!
Fish Creek Vista
Next stop, Fish Creek Vista.  It was very windy, but sunny.  The girls jumped out of the truck and ran down to the gazebo.  We stopped and read a bit about Fish Creek and how difficult it was to build the road due to the grade.  It was an amazing learning experience, and worth the stop.  We walked down to where the concrete road ended and looked down into the canyon.  We could see the road at the bottom, and we knew it was going to be a steep drive down!
Fish Creek Bridge

The road was as steep as predicted, and the old railings up on the side of the road do not leave one feeling as though they would "save" you if your car hit the side.  There were little rivers of water dripping down the canyon walls, and small areas that got a little rough and a few slightly washed out areas, although all passable in a passenger car.  We stopped down at the Fish Creek bridge, which is beautiful - the Fish Creek is so clear that the deep pools under the bridge look almost shallow.  We looked up at the cave where people like to party, and walked around a bit while down in the canyon, but by now, it was getting late, and we still had quite a ways to go.
Apache Lake

We drove on, and hit Apache Lake, which was blue as the sky and practically deserted.  It made you wonder who would drive these huge boats and pontoons up here down a dirt road at least 15 miles long from either direction - but after spending a few minutes down by the water, one realizes what a peaceful place this would be to spend a weekend - or a week!

Roosevelt Dam

As we drove along Apache Lake and the inlet into Apache, we started to keep our eyes out for Roosevelt Dam.  I knew it wouldn't look like it used to the first several times I saw Roosevelt Dam, as it had been recently covered by concrete, and in fact was made substantially bigger due to safety concerns.  As the dam loomed ahead of us, I realized that it looked nothing like the old masonry dam I was used to seeing.  However, the sheer size of it was stunning to the girls!  Again, we stopped at the vista (Inspiration Point) and walked around and read about the old dam and the recent renovations.  We enjoyed seeing all the old buildings and seeing the new 88 Bridge in the back ground.  The girls were excited about the dam, were even more excited to drive over the bridge (and back), but now wanted to go see Copper Hill, because I told them we could get out and hike around it...

As we drove into Globe, we quickly found the Copper Hill road, and started down the dirt road looking for the old Copper Hill Mill that I remember from 20 years ago.  The sun was going down, and it was cold, but we were determined to find the Mill.

Copper Hill Mill Site
We passed quite a few ruins from the copper boom days, and even stopped to look at some - but then we saw the mill, which looks like an abandoned resort of some kind.  The girls wanted to get out and go look around.  After reminding the girls about being careful, we picked our way around the Mill a little bit.  Randy hiked up higher to look at the ruins from the top, and to look at what appeared to be a long chute running through several layers of the mill down to the bottom.  The girls and I opted to go back to the truck at this point.  We were disappointed by all the graffiti and broken beer bottles everywhere.  We walked the "road" back, which was fenced off and had a no-trespassing sign on it (which, in all fairness, we didn't see until afterwards).  Unfortunately, that fence had been run down and you couldn't see it from the road.  But we could all understand why whomever the current owners were didn't want folks up there - the Mill had been badly destroyed by vandals, and looked so bad compared to when I had last been up there some 15 or so years before.
Bailey and Quel excited about food!

On the road back to Phoenix, we stopped in Superior for dinner at Edwardo's Pizzeria.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either - we got there in time for the SuperBowl half-time show, and just before the entire town decided to show up for dinner! 
The rest of the ride home was peaceful.

Please don't destroy our history in Arizona.  There is no reason to spray paint your name, or whatever, onto old buildings.  What purpose does it serve?  Why can't you just pick up your bottles?  Glass doesn't's only going to hurt other visitors, or even worse, some unlucky animal who is curious.  It is for these reasons that we are going to lose our rights to visit these beautiful, haunting, history-filled places.

Copper Hill Mill vandalism

 Please take only pictures, and leave only footprints.  

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