Just when we think the flowers cannot get any prettier, they do! What an amazing wildflower season this is turning out to be. I’m getting ahead of myself, but if you haven’t seen them yet, this might be a scenic drive for you.
We set out to go hiking at the Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Mountains. We got up and out early and took the freeways down. The address is: 6109 North Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119. From where we live, it is a good 1 ½ hours. We hadn’t been down here since 2016, so we were excited. The cost is $3 per vehicle.
As we pulled up to the entrance, a man approached us. “You just missed it. The car ahead of you was the last car allowed in. The park is full.” Say what? How does a park get full early in the morning? Drats.
We wouldn’t be the only ones disappointed as a long line had piled up behind us. The guy suggested we pull back out on to the main road and turn right. In about a half of mile, we would see signs for the First Water trailhead on the right. What choice did we have? We drove all this way, so we were game. Besides, we don’t give up that easily! Woof.
We turned right onto the First Water trailhead road, which was a bumpy dirt road. Several folks were in low-clearance vehicles and were struggling. We would not recommend low-riding cars. You don’t need four-wheel drive, but you do want higher clearance as it does have rocks to drive over.
Should you take this route, you will pass multiple parking lots that serve other trails. You will want to go 2 ½ miles to the actual First Water trailhead parking lot on your left. Believe it or not, it was full, too! We had to park in the First Water trailhead overflow lot, which is a half mile away from the actual trailhead.
The good news is this is free, and it even has human restrooms. With all the rains, though, the lot was a mess. We geared up, and Daddy packed our picnic in his backpack. Did I ever tell you the time he left it on the bumper of the car? No picnic. No snacks. No nothing! Mom and I are always grateful when he remembers the food, and we appreciate him carrying it for us.
This trail is smack, dab next to the Lost Dutchman State Park. In fact, one of the trails connects you right into the park. Now that we know this, we won’t ever pay a fee for the state park. And although we were not alone, this trail had less traffic than the park would on such a busy day.
The bummer was we had to hike that half mile just to get to the trail head. From there, we continued and immediately began noticing all the wildflowers. The hills, covered in green, looked like something out of Ireland, not Arizona! We had spectacular views of the Superstition Mountains and began curving around them through a valley.
The trail is marked, and you will come to an intersection where you can take a right onto the Dutchman Trail or take a left to stay on the First Water trail. We chose the later because it would be a little easier. NOTE: There is a map at the main parking lot. Take a photo of it in case you get turned around. It provides descriptions and difficulties of the trail as well as length. Always take your skill level into account and know your dog’s threshold.
Between all the cactus, wildflowers, and blue sky, we found it to be spectacular. We came to a creek crossing with lots of rocks. I paused because I didn’t want to turn my ankle that just healed up, and Daddy must have read my mind. He scooped me up and carried me across. What a guy! It’s not very long, but hiking poles would be helpful. Mom did great without them and made her way across. Daddy didn’t offer to carry her. Sorry Mom; Dad loves me more! Awoof.
After hiking about an hour, we selected a spot to have our picnic. We were in a field of wildflowers. I didn’t smell any snakes, but Daddy didn’t want to take any chances. He used a big stick to poke in the bushes, and he made lots of noise to give any potential snakes a warning. We didn’t hear or see anything and decided it was safe. We are entering snake season soon; be situational aware.
We sat and ate our lunch. As far as we could see were flowers. This is Mom’s favorite time of year, and she loves the color. After a spell, we packed everything back up to head back. The trail was getting even busier with more and more people and dogs. I always enjoy meeting new canine pals and saw quite a cutie. If I was only a little younger…I digress.
We decided to do a loop and take a different way home. Instead of the freeways, we would go via the Bush Highway toward Saguaro Lake to the Beeline or 87 and make our way to Rio Verde. There are way too many turns to write it out for you, but you’ll skirt Fountain Hills and drive through Scottsdale this way. What Dad does is program in each section so that his GPS takes him there and to back to the freeway.
The key here is that the Bush Highway is a superbloom! Never have we seen this many flowers all over the hillsides. It almost hurts your eyes with all the vibrant orange and yellow colors. We are betting that the horrible fire that tore through here in 2020 coupled with all the rain created ripe conditions for the wildflowers to take over. It’s amazing.
People were pulling off the road to take pictures, and we almost missed it. On our left was a herd of wild horses. They were grazing and soaking up the sun. We saw some on the trail up close and personal, too.
The drive was slow going and added another 30 minutes heading back, but it was worth it. Even if you don’t want to hike, take a drive down to the Bush Highway near Saguaro Lake. You will be amazed!
I think we have weeks of the wildflowers still because we haven’t really warmed up, and we are supposed to get more rain. Can I say it? UNCLE! Eeesh. I am also very over all the wind. Please make it go away.
Get out there and experience the beauty of the spring desert. Before long, we will be complaining it is hot and dry. Let me know if you spot any other superbloom areas. Remember, some adventures don’t go the way we planned but can turn out even better!
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith, is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, executive recruiter, business consultant, coach, fitness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
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Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!