View of the Superstition Mountains on a cloudy day. photo by Egyed Győző

Searching for Treasure in the Superstition Mountains

“That is just stunning,” my brother Győző exclaimed looking at the Superstition Mountains on our drive back into town from Casa Grande. “Is there a trail to the top? Can I climb it?”

He was visiting from Transylvania, here during the most beautiful time in the desert around Phoenix. It wasn’t his first time here, but it was his first time seeing the desert green. And it was the first time he saw the Superstitions.

The mountain range is indeed one of the most scenic sights in the vicinity of the city. With its jagged ridges growing straight up from its surroundings, the volcanic range is recognizable from a distance.

As we were driving closer, the 1,000-foot-high column of rock called Weaver’s Needle, came into focus.

“I know a trail up to Weaver’s Needle,” Jeff answered him, “it’s as close as you can get to the top. If you don’t mind waiting till the weekend, I’ll go with you. It’s been a while since I hiked it.”

So, over he weekend, they made hiking the Superstitions their day trip destination.

What’s in a Name: Why the Superstition Mountains?

Since we were talking about it, we drove closer to the Superstitions and stopped at an overlook where we could see the whole range.

“What is it called again?” asked my brother for the third time. “I can never remember it.”

“Superstition Mountains,” I repeated my answer. “Did I ever tell you why it’s called that?”

“You didn’t. We didn’t come here last time I visited,” he reminded me. “What’s the superstition about?”

“People used to (and some still do) believe that there is a secret gold mine somewhere in these mountains. It’s supposed to be haunted,” I said and recounted the story of the Lost Dutchman and his gold mine, adding that people still look for the lost mine, and lose their lives in the process.

“I should look for it. Maybe I’ll find it,” joked my brother.

“Then they’ll have to change the name. Superstition Mountains won’t fit if the gold mine is not a superstition any more,” I laughed.

“You are hiking to Weaver’s Needle, if you go. Watch the needle’s shadow; it’s supposed to lead you to the gold ore,” I told him. “I’m not sure which shadow, during what time of the day though, but you never know…”

“Do these mountains even have gold at all?” he asked.

“I read that geologists proved the rocks in the mountain range do not contain any gold whatsoever. On the other hand, not far from the range, prospectors found enough gold around 1910 to open a mine and build a whole town around it,” I told him. “So I don’t really know what to believe.”

And since we talked about it, we drove over and visited Goldfield, the semi-artificial ghost town across the street. You can still pan for gold there, finding it so close to the Superstition Mountains might mean the ore is not a myth…

A Hike to Weaver’s Needle

My brother was determined to hike to the top of the Superstition Mountains. My husband and son thought it would be fun, too, to they made plans for a hiking adventure.

Though it rarely rains in the desert around Phoenix, the following weekend brought on a slow, steady rain. It wasn’t the type of storm we are used to, but rather a gentle rain the Navajos call female rain, soaking the desert floor for a full day. While it was great for the desert, it was hardly the hiking weather my brother was hoping for.

But the one thing all my guys – my husband, son, and brother – have in common, is not letting weather stand in their way. So, while they didn’t go for the hike during the rain, they still set out the day after it stopped, even though they knew they would have to deal with muddy terrain and slippery rocks. On the other hand, I knew they would see the desert at its best, at its greenest.

I had no desire to go searching for treasure though, or attempting a strenuous hike with a bad knee, and the girls weren’t much for hiking, either. So, the three guys set out on the hiking adventure.

On the way my brother Győző, recorded his experience on the trail through the photos he later shared with me:

As the sun came out, they stopped to look at the view below…

View from the trail to Weaver's Needle in the Superstition Mountains. photo credit: Egyed Győző

As they continued on the trail, Győző saw flowers in the desert for the first time, and vegetation greener than he thought possible here. The surrounding volcanic rocks, exposed, were different than anything he’s used to in Romania. Eventually, he even saw a gorgeous waterfall, something he did not expect in the desert environment of the Superstition Mountains.

They kept going higher up the mountain. They walked on slippery sheer rocks, above gorgeous valleys with a seasonal river flowing on the bottom.

Closer to the top, they stopped at a viewpoint.

View from the Superstitions. photo credit: Egyed Győző
View from the Superstitions.

At the higher elevations, my brother marveled at cacti, especially giant saguaros that seem to have grown out of the rock.

They didn’t make it to Weaver’s Needle, since the trail ended and it was too slippery to follow the rest of the way. Still, they got close, and had some of the best views of this rocky desert environment.

They got back by early afternoon; the hike took them shorter than I expected. I’m pretty sure this hike must have been the highlight of my brother’s trip, though it wasn’t the only one. When spending time in Phoenix in the winter, visitors inevitably spend most of their time in the desert, and the surrounding mountains.

My brother didn’t find gold in the Superstition Mountains. I’m not sure he believed that gold exists in these mountains. But he found a treasure he appreciates much more: a great hike in one of the most beautiful places he ever explored.

And since it rained during his visit, we had waterfalls in our surroundings. So, a few days later, my daughter Leanne and I took Győző to another waterfall we could reach a bit easier, in the White Tank Mountains.

Hike in the Superstition Mountains
Superstitions pin2
Hiking in the Superstition Mountains
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