19723
Arizona
Hiking Arizona's Sonoran Desert: Exploring the Superstition Mountains
Hike two icons of the Southwest, the Sonoran Desert and Superstition Mountains, where you’ll join local experts to learn the region’s human, natural and geological story.
Rating (4.86)
Program No. 19723RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
995
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Mesa, AZ
D
La Quinta Inn & Suites Phoenix Mesa West

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. 5:00-5:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the hotel meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: We’ll walk to a nearby restaurant for plated meals with one non-alcoholic beverage included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After walking back to the hotel we will have Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. All field trips will be led by our Group Leaders, seasoned and experienced naturalists, unless specified otherwise. All transportation will be via vans or foot. This program has a Road Scholar Activity Level of "Challenging." Typical hiking distances are 6-10 miles with 600-1500 feet of elevation change and are on both established trails and “off trail” routes with uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas. Hikes are usually conducted as one group with a hike leader at the front of the group and a sweep near the back. Come prepared to hike with proper equipment. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, relaxing, and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions and participant abilities. As such, scheduled activities may change to other days of the week or include alternate destinations. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.

DAY
2
Superstition Mountains, Pass Mountain Trail, Evening Lecture
Mesa, AZ
B,L,D
La Quinta Inn & Suites Phoenix Mesa West

Activity note: Hiking about 7.5 miles throughout the day; on both established trails and “off trail” routes with uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation gain of approx. 1,020 feet. Driving approximately 25 miles; about ½ hour one way.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet including choices such as waffles, a variety of hot and cold cereals, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, bread and muffins, fresh fruit, coffee, juice, milk, tea and water.

Morning: We’ll start off the week with a hike along the Pass Mountain Trail outside of the Superstition Mountains at the Usery Mountain Regional Park on the outskirts of town. The Pass Mountain Trail provides a good introduction to the Sonoran Desert with great views of the Superstitions in the distance. Our Group Leaders will point out a variety of plants adapted to desert conditions including the stately Saguaro cactus, chainfruit and teddy bear cholla cacti, Palo Verde trees and seasonal wild flowers.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: Upon our return to the vans, we’ll drive back to the hotel.

Dinner: At a nearby restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with one non-alcoholic beverage included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a presentation given by a local expert that will focus on the geology, human history or natural history of the Superstition Mountains and the surrounding area.

DAY
3
Sonoran Desert, Southern Superstitions, Peralta Cave Trail
Mesa, AZ
B,L,D
La Quinta Inn & Suites Phoenix Mesa West

Activity note: Hiking about 6 miles throughout the day; on both established trails and “off trail” routes with uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 1,400 feet. Driving approximately 35 miles; 1 hour, one way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board our vans and drive to the beginning of the Peralta Trail/Cave Trail Loop where the trail starts out in the relatively lush riparian foliage along the wash. As we climb towards Fremont Saddle out of the wash, the vegetation thins and becomes more desert like, with a lot of bare rock. The view of Weaver's Needle from the Saddle is good, but with a short walk out the Weavers Needle Overlook Ridge the view gets even better with vistas down into the labyrinth of smaller needles guarding the Needle. The hike will then return to the Cave Trail for a total of about 6 miles and a change of roughly 1,400 feet. This off-the-beaten-track route will take us down a ridgeline with magnificent views past brilliantly colored lichen on walls of volcanic tuff and some steep sections where we will learn to trust our boots.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: After finishing the Peralta Trail/Cave Trail Loop, we’ll return to the hotel.

Dinner: At a nearby Mexican restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with one non-alcoholic beverage included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
4
Hike Hieroglyphics Trail, Drive via Apache Trail
Superstition Mountains
B,L,D
Apache Lake Resort

Activity note: Hiking about 3 miles; approx. 3 hours; on both established trails and “off trail” routes with uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 600 feet. Driving approximately 80 miles total; about 2.5 hours, with a stop in the middle for a hike.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After loading our vans, we’ll begin our drive to Apache Lake stopping on the way for an easier hike along the Hieroglyphics Trail which starts out in fields of Saguaro Cacti, Jumping Cholla Cacti, Palo Verde, Creosote, and other desert plants. The trail climbs to Hieroglyphics Canyon, and follows the drainage up to the rock art, more accurately called petroglyphs.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the way.

Afternoon: After finishing the Hieroglyphics Trail, we’ll continue by van along the unpaved, winding, breathtakingly scenic Apache Trail road to the hotel for afternoon check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy plated meals with one non-alcoholic beverage included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll watch the classic Hollywood movie, Lust for Gold, which was filmed in the Superstition Mountains and is about the Lost Dutchman Goldmine.

DAY
5
Northern Superstitions, First Water, Canyon Lake, Keypass
Superstition Mountains
B,L,D
Apache Lake Resort

Activity note: Hiking about 7.5 miles throughout the day; on both established trails and “off trail” routes with uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 1,600 vertical feet. Driving approximately 50 miles; about 2 hours total, with a hike in the middle. There will be no sweep on today’s hike.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with coffee, tea, juice and water included.

Morning: Our 2 vans today will start at a different trailheads. Half the group will park at the First Water Trailhead and the other at the Canyon Lake Trailhead before hiking towards one another, trading keys in the middle. There will be no sweep on today’s hike. From the First Water Trailhead, we’ll hike towards Garden Valley beginning in a typically dry wash which leads to a mesquite and chainfruit cholla "forest." Near the trail we’ll see ruins of an ancient house with pot sherds and stone metates used for grinding corn. As the trail descends down to Boulder Canyon, it gets steeper but is still fairly easy. From the Canyon Lake Trailhead, on the other hand, we’ll climb up a hill with views of the Canyon Lake area, level off for a while, then descend down into the Boulder Canyon drainage. Somewhere near the Indian Paint Mine, where they extracted red clay for paints and pottery, we will meet the other half of our group and trade van keys.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: Continuing our hike, we’ll finish up and return to hotel in the mid to late afternoon.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At the hotel, our Group Leader will discuss native desert wildlife, plants or geology.

DAY
6
Reavis Mountain Trail, Sonoran Desert, North Superstitions
Superstition Mountains
B,L,D
Apache Lake Resort

Activity note: Hiking about 9 miles throughout the day; mostly smooth with some rocky sections; elevation change of approx. 1,000 vertical feet. Driving approximately 6 miles; about ½ hour, one way.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: After driving to the trailhead, we’ll embark on today’s hike along the Reavis Mountain Trail. Starting out with a spectacular view above Apache Lake, the trail begins its ascent on a moderately graded former road bed through grassy rolling hills towards Castle Dome, a prominent geological feature on the skyline. The trail is mostly smooth but an occasional rocky section will keep us on our toes.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: We’ll continue the hike and, upon completion, return to the hotel in mid to late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a tasty farewell plated meal and standard beverages with fellow participants; other beverages available for purchase. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll gather for a program wrap-up session to recap our adventures and address any last questions. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Departures
B

Activity note: Driving approximately 65 miles; about 2 hours. Hotel departure by 7:45 a.m.; expected arrival at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport by 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: Once checked-out of the hotel, we’ll load our luggage the vans and transfer to the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport and the starting hotel for drop-off by 10:30 a.m. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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