Arizona Hiking Gallery
Massacre Grounds Trail
Superstition Wilderness, AZ
April 13, 2008
Gallery contains 36 photos
Gallery last updated: 5/3/2008
This was a short (about 4 miles) out-and-back hike in the Superstition Wilderness to the Massacre Grounds. According to Christine Maxa in her book Arizona's Best Wildflower Hikes: The Desert, "The trail to the Massacre Grounds takes you to a remote rock wall where Apache Indians and Mexican miners clashed in 1849 ... This particular battle ended at the weathered rock wall, now called the Massacre Grounds, where the Apaches killed several Mexicans."
This volcanic spire rising about 300 feet from the desert floor is a landmark that can be seen from much of the Massacre Trail. Behind it rise the Superstition Mountains.
This time of year (mid to late April) many Strawberry Hedgehog (Echinocereus engelmannii) cactus are in bloom with their showy magenta flames.
The Massacre Grounds Trail starts off flat and generally heads in a southeast direction. It makes a gradual climb around the left side of the spire to a low saddle.
A two-image panoramic view of the western edge of the Superstition Mountains.
The hills are still colored yellow with the mostly spent flowers of Brittlebush Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa).
As the trail rounds the spire and climbs its flank a different view of the spire emerges.
The bright deep orange blossom of a Desert Mariposa (Calochortus kennedyi) glows in the morning sun.
Another shot of the Desert Mariposa (Calochortus kennedyi).
The rocky crags of the spire emerge from the brittlebush covered hillside.
Entire hillsides are brushed yellow with brittlebush.
Closeup of the interior of a Desert Mariposa (Calochortus kennedyi).
Looking back at the western edge of the Superstition Mountains from the trail at the saddle on the southeast side of the spire.
From the saddle the trail dips down and then heads up the shallow canyon to the left.
On the south side of the saddle Flat-Top Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) were in bloom.
A view looking back at the spire and the saddle (on the right) that we just came over.
The Massacre Grounds Trail climbs out of the small canyon that it has been following for a short distance up to a slope with a view of the Massacre Grounds.
A view to the northeast of Four Peaks.
A view of cliffs near the Massacre Grounds.
Boulders and hoodoos populate the hills above the Massacre Grounds.
The trail ends at this rock wall which will have a small waterfall after rains. It was dry during my visit.
The end of the trail and my turn-around point for this hike.
The pleasant song of a bird caught my attention and I turned to see this beautiful black and yellow Scott's Oriole (Icterus parisorum).
A view looking along a cliff near the Massacre Grounds.
A view of the formations at the western edge of the Superstition Mountains with the outskirts of Apache Junction beyond.
As the trail heads back down our landmark spire comes back into view.
A globemallow greets the hiker with a profusion of orange blossoms.
A rock outcropping surrounded by yellow brittlebush.
The southeastern face of the spire.
Among the mass of brittlebush are a few dapples of orange from globemallow.
The deep orange of this Desert Mariposa brightens an otherwise drab scene.
And even more brittlebush with a touch of globemallow on the right.
Yellow Menodora (Menodora scabra).
Closeup of Yellow Menodora, a bright yellow flower with reddish buds.
Engelmann's Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii).
All images Copyright ©2008 Terry Wright. All rights reserved.