This is one of those trails that we don’t do very often. In most cases there’s a reason, like “too boring”, “too rugged”, “too (whatever)”, but Rogers Trough ought to be a regular.
It’s not an easy trail, but at 8 miles and just over 1,000 feet of AEG it’s a pretty routine challenge physically. Admittedly, it’s a “pace yourself” hike because the uphill portion is on the return trip, not the outgoing leg. You need to bring a good supply of water, but the rewards of this upcountry journey into the past make it a must-do at least once in career of any Superstition hiker. The “past” we journey to is a remote cluster of Solado Indian dwelling ruins at the turnaround point of the hike.
Half the reward of this hike is the road trip to the trailhead. Rogers Trough trailhead lies about 1/3 way up the flank of Montana mountain, and the trip takes you deep into the prettiest areas of the interior Superstition, where you are surrounded in turn by towering cliffs, meadows of wildflowers, and “stop and take a picture” views of your backtrail.
The road in is not a speedway, but it is regularly maintained (a Forest Service roadgrader smoothed it the day we went in) and it can be negotiated with most vehicles.
Once at the trailhead (at about 4,800 feet) you are above the cactus line and in an environment of manzanita and juniper. The trail follows a canyon, shallow and broad at first, frequently crossing a babbling creek downstream. There is intermittent shade all the way, and the altitude makes this a cooler hike during the warmer end of our hiking season.
As you continue down canyon, it narrows and the walls become gorgeous sculpted cliffs on both sides. The vegetation changes from shrubs to larger trees, with some great specimens of Arizona sycamore, cottonwood, and others.
In the photo above, note the dark spot on the cliff in the middle of the scene. This view is from a spot on the trail is about a quarter mile from the dwelling ruins which most of us in the group had visited a few times before.
Two of our group on this hike, Dana and Debbie, had not hiked here before. Naturally they were “on the lookout” for the ruins while the rest of us “knew” we hadn’t reached them yet. The scene above caught their attention. Below is a “zoomed” photo of that same dark spot high on the cliff.
Inside the alcove, to the left, appears a perfectly preserved structure which none of us had ever noticed on any previous hike. We think that deeper in the shadows to the right side of the cave there may be an additional structure but it would take some technical climbing to get a closer look.
Proceeding down the canyon further, we came to the “regular” ruins which most of us had visited on previous hikes. Somehow they weren’t quite as exciting after the discovery above.
This structure is the best preserved of those at the end of the trail (photo courtesy Deb Kirke.) It takes a little clambering to reach, so I haven’t been into that cave. Below are some shots of lesser ruins in the vicinity, easier for old geezers to reach and photograph.
A great hike, 600 years into the past, and we’ll all probably spend more time scanning the cliffs on future hikes.
That was quite a spectacular find by D & D! I had only seen the ruins you have seen. Either the group did not know about the more preserved structure or nobody had the energy to look at it in 2006/2007. Nicely done, again! Thanks.
As usual, very nice Hans 🙂
Thanks for putting a name to the flowers. Looking at the pics of the ruins, a person can imagine all sort of people living there.
Thanks, I really enjoyed this article.
8/1/2017 — Here are some comments from JOSEPH S CRARY
It’s called either the Roger’s Canyon or Angel Spring Ruin. In the upper cave there is a small relatively intact Roosevelt phase (13th century) compound. The middle cave used to have several granaries and the dry laid wall there now is recently built. The remains in the lower cave appears to be part of another Roosevelt phase compound that was added to in the Gila phase. Several archaeologist have tested this site including Erich Schmidt.
The site represents part of a larger community of small sites centered on Angel Spring with a total of about 35 rooms. In the narrow side canyons are several other similar ruins and numerous granaries. Collectively, the Angel Spring Roosevelt phase community is one of three that extend south from Fish Creek along the upper terraces, cliffs, and ridges of Roger’s Canyon to the vicinity of Roger’s Trough. The other two communities are larger. In turn, these communities are a very small part of a much larger Roosevelt phase settlement system centered on Campaign Creek that covers much of the eastern Superstition mountains. Circlestone, a large early 12th century refugia and part of a defensive network of hilltop sites, that in this case was used as a residential locus in the 13th century, is also located nearby. It’s an extremely rough and rouged area with dense vegetation and filled with a great deal of wildlife, that’s largely nocturnal. If your photo of the lower cave area is recent then it looks like TNF’s stabilization has failed. Below is a photo of Circlestone.
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Thank you for the info,but Who is Joseph Crary? I have not been able to find one picture of that granery cave, I was there today and tried to scramble up to it and failed, I am so curious was deeper in there
Joseph Crary is an archeologist. Google “Exploring the Gila Horizon”