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Massacre Grounds Day Hike
Superstition Mountains
March 19, 2011
by Ted Tenny
  GPS Route Map 
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Trailblazers at the Massacre Site Rock.
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The trail fades out as we approach an arroyo.
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Our first arroyo crossing is on solid rock.

13 lucky Trailblazers assembled at Crosscut Trailhead on a pleasant spring morning to visit the legendary Massacre Grounds and find the elusive Massacre Site Rock. We accomplished both.

The hike begins on Jacob’s Crosscut Trail, walking west and south over rolling hills covered with Sonoran vegetation. We continue southeast on the Treasure Trail and then leave it to head east across the bajada to our turning point near hill 2759. Going against the grain makes the bajada rougher than it appears from a distance. There are arroyos and plenty of prickly vegetation along the way.

When we turn southeast we’re going with the grain, for a smooth walk up to the original Massacre Grounds Trail. We pass Clara’s Canyon, informally named for Ted’s daughter who helped him explore it.

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The Massacre Grounds, at last!

The Massacre Grounds are historical and beautiful in their own right. We’re cliffed out in every direction but west, with sweeping views of the Superstition Ridgeline, Weaver’s Needle, and the mountains to the north and east. Although spring flowers are sparse in 2011, we see a few colorful blossoms.

We enjoy our picnic lunch on top of the world as Ted reads about the massacre of the Peralta miners from The Story of Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman Mine, by Robert Joseph Allen.

Instead of going back the same way, we walk around the edge of the Massacre Grounds, viewing the overlooks and finding what seems to be a metate. But is it? No one could live here unless they had water, and First Water Creek, a mile and a half to the northeast, flows intermittently.

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Trailblazers at the top of the world.
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Are you sure we’re supposed to find a metate up here?
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Desert Penstemon - Penstemon pseudospectabilis
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Sugar Sumac - Rhus ovata
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Fishhook barrel cactus - Ferocactus wislizentii
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Hedgehog Cactus - Echinocereus fasciculatus
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Foothill Palo Verde - Cercidium microphyllum
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Hopseed Bush - Dodonaea viscosa
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Spreading Fleabane - Erigeron divergens
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Plains Blackfoot - Melampodium leucanthum
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The original Massacre Grounds Trail went by the Wine Bottle.
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Yes, we’ve found the Massacre Site Rock.

When we get back to hill 2759 Ted has everybody look at a map and two pictures, in hopes of finding the Massacre Site Rock at which the remains of some 25 of the Peralta miners were discovered in 1866. We try to match the background scenes in the pictures, apparently without success.

Then we see the rock formation, straight ahead! The natural markings are unmistakable. We pause for group pictures, then walk diagonally downhill to a gap in the fence and on to an abandoned road leading northwest to Crosscut Trail and our cars. Ted has a jug of purified ice water, plenty for everyone who needs a cold drink on a warm afternoon.

References:
Allen, Robert Joseph,
The Story of Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman Mine,
Pocket Books, New York, NY, 1971.
Highly readable account on pages 5-7 of the massacre of the Peralta miners.

Corbin, Helen M.,
The Bible on the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine and Jacob Waltz: A Pioneer History of the Gold Rush (Prospecting and Treasure Hunting),
Wolfe Publishing, Prescott, AZ, 2002.
Sgt. William Edwards’ report of the discovery of the miners’ remains at the Massacre Site Rock is given on pages 273-283.
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated March 31, 2014