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Great Phoenix Road Trips: Take a Day Trip to the Superstition Wilderness

The Superstition Mountains, known locally as “The Superstitions”, are located approximately 50 miles east of the Phoenix metropolitan area and 20 miles east of Apache Junction, a perfect hour-long drive or less for an easy day trip.

Part of the Tonto National Forest, the Superstition Mountains, and wilderness area draw hikers from around the state. Hundreds of trails, from easy beginner, strolls to far more demanding advanced trails, weave and crisscross throughout the 250 square miles that make up the Superstition Wilderness area.

If you are visiting the Superstitions for the first time, Lost Dutchman State Park is an excellent place to start. The park offers easy access to several half-mile to 2.5 mile-long beginner trails as well as a campground and a shaded picnic area. Located along AZ 88, Lost Dutchman State Park is located near Goldfield, a restored ghost town which is also worth a visit.

The Peralta Trailhead, a popular six-mile trail with a nearly 1,400-foot climb in elevation, presents a challenge for more advanced hikers with stunning views of Peralta Canyon.

Preparing for Your Trip

The Superstitions have a unique rugged beauty which may come with sweltering heats in the summer and icy colds in the winter. Pre-hydrate by drinking at least a liter of water before beginning your exploration. Come prepared for your day trip with lots of water. Pack as much as you think you will need, and then add an extra gallon for every member of your party. The coolest time of day is typically right after daybreak. Not only will you beat the heat with an early morning summer hike, but you will also get to experience the rare brilliance of a sunrise in the Superstition Wilderness.

While less popular than its summertime counterpart, winter hikes in the Superstition Wilderness have the advantage of fewer bugs, fewer crowds, and stunning winter desert scenery. If you are hiking in the wintertime, prepare for temperatures that can drop to subzero levels after sunset. For day hikes, schedule your hike to occur primarily between noon and three in the afternoon, as this will be the warmest time of the day and dress in warm weather clothes. Heat activated hand and feet warmers may be your best friend. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water; dehydration can be even more dangerous without the prompt of the summer heat.

Preparing well for your day trip will ensure a successful and enjoyable outing. Whether you are a visitor or a longtime local resident, investing a day in exploring the Superstition Wilderness is something you will never forget.