Haunted Canyon trail – a hike 100 years into the past

Yesterday Jim led a small band of us on a trip to Tony’s Cabin in the eastern Superstitions.  This was a “beat the heat” tactic, as the route lies completely above 4,000 feet.  There are at least a couple of routes to the site.  We hiked in and out from the “upper” Haunted Canyon trailhead on FR287A. This is about an 8 mile round trip, and the accumulated elevation gain is 2,000 feet.   The temperature at the trailhead in the morning was 59 degrees, and 78 degrees when we returned in the afternoon, compared to the 90’s in the valley.

Half the adventure is getting to the trailhead.  It is located about 10 miles off US 60, and the road first passes a few miles through the Pinto Valley copper mine, then deteriorates (yes, that’s the correct word) into a steep and twisty one-lane mountain trail for the remaining 6 or 7 miles.  This old bridge was just 8 inches or so wider than my “dually” pickup!  At some points along the road both outside rear tires were off the road.

Haunted Cabin 147

The hike opens with 900-foot climb over about 1.5 miles to a grassy ridge overlooking Haunted Canyon.  Most of the climb is in the shade of cedars, cypress, and sycamore trees.  The trail is easy to follow, with a lot of easy water crossings (handy place to dip your cap in the water and cool your head), and a few deadfalls to negotiate.

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You’ve reached the crest of the climb when you see this weathered old tree where we gathered for a group photo.  From left to right, Jim, me, Brian, Dick, and Frank.  Peter is behind the camera.

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From this crest the trail descends 1,100 feet over about 2.5 miles into Haunted Canyon and the site of the old Tony ranch.  Here’s a view from just past the trail crest, looking down into the maze of canyons below.

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The descent into the canyon is more gradual, and again the shaded trail involves a number of creek crossings.  The Supes are blessed with a lot of water this spring.

Haunted Cabin 039 Haunted Cabin 041

Our destination for this hike is the old Tony homestead.  In 1913 William Toney built this log cabin and homesteaded 78 acres of the surrounding canyon floor.  100 years ago this remote place became the home of William, his wife Ella, and 7 children.  Records indicate they farmed wheat, beans, and other crops, and planted a 600-tree orchard here.  I didn’t find any evidence of fruit trees, but they may well have long died and decayed over the century since then.

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Can you identify this item, seen hanging on the cabin wall?

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After a leisurely lunch break, we reversed our trail and climbed (1,100 feet) back out of the canyon by the same route.

This was a very rewarding hike; the canyon setting of this old home stirs the imagination.  I’d the difficulty as on the “high end of moderate”, but all agreed it was well worth the effort.  The higher altitude makes it a nice candidate for warmer weather.  My only caution would to NOT do it soon after rain, as the treacherous road to the trailhead would have impassably slippery spots, and you’d need to back up MILES in some cases to turn around with most vehicles.

Here are some more shots taken around the  area.

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12 Responses to Haunted Canyon trail – a hike 100 years into the past

  1. CRE says:

    I will add this one to the hike menu. I had planned to do that, but the area was closed for a year or two. I think it deserves to make the list.


  2. carolyn says:

    These trees look like vulters should be sitting in them watching you all walking around.


  3. Bob says:

    The item hanging on the cabin wall is a tree branch trimmer. It would required for trimming an orchard.


  4. Dana says:

    If memory serves me, I believe it is a wire
    (barbed) stretcher…….


  5. Mark A. Wade says:

    Thank you for trip report . I visited a.z in 97 We did over night pack trip. Haunted Canyon was on the list but we opted for R. canyon because we heard there would be weather. We got a mountain storm early march and The Flash flood part of superstition legend was shown to me. Yes we had to leave the truck at Hewitt crossing in parking area . I enjoyed your through treatment about subject on road in. Looks like a nice hike and I will have to do this alternate trip next time I get back to A.Z . Mark back east


  6. Eve Haynie says:

    Hiked to tony cabin today Nov 03 2013 Sunday. Went in on trail # 203. As usual seen only about four people on the trail. Two of them were hunting deer, had three mules with them. Heard they seen bear tracks. And,seen a mountain lion. Thank goodness we did not. No water in the creek. But still had the springs for the dogs to cool off in. On the way out right after we passed the cattle pen, we seen about 5 or 6 Cootimundis. Pretty cool, never seen them before. All in all it was a kick your butt hike. This was our fourth visit to this place. Beautiful. Eve and Donna and Charlie and Bugsy dogs.


  7. Robert Ewald says:

    Is this open.? A few years back we were not allowed to trespass since the property is owned by the superstition area land trust. (SALT)


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