Usually when we are headed out for an adventure, we go north. Not this time. Dad jumped on the 17 South to the 10 and then got on the 60 East to Superior. Note: The trail head does NOT have human restrooms, so you probably want to stop in Superior to use the restrooms. The Circle K’s ones are clean, says mom. Anyway, we were going for a long while, so I settled in for the ride. At Superior, Dad headed south on 177 for about 15.5 miles to Kelvin. I never heard of such a place, and you may not have either. It’s a tiny bedroom community that serves the Ray Mine. Anyway, you will need to take a very sharp right onto Florence-Kelvin Highway and it isn’t marked. It is literally just before the bridge. If you miss it, go back and take the first left after the bridge.
The road becomes dirt but it is flat. No special vehicles required. You will think you are in a neighborhood because there are a few houses, but keep going. Don’t turn onto private driveways but continue straight for just a half mile. You will see the sign for the trailhead parking lot on your left. As I mentioned, there is no human restroom here, but we did find a port-o-potty on the trail. We just aren’t sure if that stays there or not. Better to be safe than sorry.
Parking is free but it isn’t a huge lot. As always, arrive early if you can. From north Phoenix, it took us two hours. It was approximately 88 miles. We had to chuckle at the sign in the parking lot that said “Although dogs are welcome, we don’t recommend they hike this trail as it is rocky, has cactus and could have snakes.” Um, your point? Most hikes in Arizona are rocky and have cactus. Duh! We proceeded ahead.
The trail is actually back on the road to your left. It says “AZT” or Arizona Trail, but the hike is actually the Gila River Canyon trail. You can go as short or as long as you like, but three miles in is the Gila River Canyon Bridge. That was our goal for the day or six miles total. The trail is moderate and isn’t actually that rocky. It does, however, go up at a steady climb. You start by following the old rail road tracks.
We saw some signs of spring coming with the Ocotillo turning green and some had orange flowers already. Because this is way out in the middle of nowhere, it was very quiet. The temperatures for us were nice and cool, but on a hot day, this trail would be tough. There is zero shade. Keep that in mind and always pack enough water to and fro. Be sure to sign in at the registration stand so they know you are there in case something happens.
About 15 to 20 minutes in, you will get a great view of the Ray Mine and Granite Mountain (not the one in Prescott, obviously). The Ray Mine is a huge copper mine that was bought by Mexico in 1988. It goes for miles and miles. You can definitely see the copper color.
As you keep climbing up and make some turns, you will then get a view of the Gila River, which had water flowing in it. Because of the river, Cottonwood trees line the canyon floor. They were already green in anticipating of spring.
Mom’s ankle starting giving her trouble, so she stopped short of the bridge at two miles. She wasn’t happy about it, but she wasn’t sure how it would do on the way back. Dad and I pressed on to get the view of the bridge at about 2.5 miles. The Gila Canyon Ridge is actually a railroad bring over the river. It’s cool looking, but we decided it wasn’t worth the .5 miles down to it and back out.
We got back to mom, who found a nice, big boulder to sit on. I laid down in the dirt to cool off. Meanwhile, she got our lunches out, and we enjoyed a nice picnic with a view of the river. It was very peaceful and enjoyable. I love how green the Saguaros were against the blue sky.
After our break, we headed back out. We only saw a few humans on the trail and one set was on mountain bikes. This would be a fun trail as it isn’t rocky but provides a steady climb without breaks. We were going pretty slow as mom’s ankle would give out on her. Poor mom. I know what it is like to have a lame paw. Not fun. She was a trooper, though.
Before we knew it, we were back to the car. All in all, we went 5 miles. I was in my kennel and asleep before we even left the parking lot. I was oblivious to everything until the car screeched to a halt on the freeway, and we all went forward. I woke up instantly to see a small chihuahua running on the freeway. My heart stopped. He was dodging cars. Several humans, including my dad, got out to try and catch the poor fella, but he was scared. He was wicked fast, too! No one could catch him, and he darted across the five lanes of traffic. Thankfully, he made it to the media on the other side. We saw some humans there and think that was his family. I hope he made it.
Mom’s heart was in her throat for the rest of the drive. That was crazy. Glad we didn’t slam into any other cars. Everyone seemed to be on their toes. Another caution: should you ever have to stop on the freeway, secure your dogs. We are sneaky and unpredictable. It’s not worth the risk. Stay safe!
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!