Mystery and Intrigue in the Superstitions

This trail in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix was recommended by an article called "Four Wheeling into Mystery and Intrigue" in the January 1995 issue of 4WD & Sport Utility. This is the same writer who brought us the fabulous trail to the Beehive Ovens in Cochran. The basic trip is to go to Florence Junction (US 60 & Az 79). Then take FR 172 up to Roger's Spring on the boundary of the Superstition Wilderness. Then FR 650 down the other side into Superior. The article indicates the road is pretty easy with plenty of challenging side trails for the "locked and lifted". It's an all day trip just by the nature of the 90-minute+ drive to Florence Junction.

From hill Sun Jan 21 22:17 MST 1996: Here's the short report on our trip to the Superstitions on Saturday January 20, 1996. Attendance was a little slim as only Bob and Bobby Peterson in "Willy" and myself in "The river ..... runs through it". Actually we may have to change the name to "It through the river runs" now that I've got the suspension lift and 35" tires. We started the day with some fine omlettes at Claire's in Catalina.

We drove north from Tucson on routes 77/79 and then east on 60 until the turnoff toward Queen Valley. There's no gas at Florence Junction so we drove into Queen Valley RV park to top up on gas. Then after exploring a little side trail we got on FR172 heading north. FR172 is a two-wheel drive road all the way, but the scenery is fabulous as was Saturday's weather. As advertised in the magazine article, there is a turnoff 5 miles up on FR172 that leads to a couple fabulous hill climbs. Vehicles with open differentials and/or small tires need not apply, but the two long-wheelbase Chevys scampered right up with enough wheelspin to make it fun. We ate lunch near some mining digs on a peak with a 360-degree view of the Superstitions. My truck seems to have plenty of climbing power with the new BFG 35x12.50s and the stock 4.10 gears, so I've decided not to install lower gears. I'll keep this current setup with double overdrive for now. The road becomes more interesting and requires 4WD when you reach the junction of FR650 and FR172A near the wilderness boundary.

About a mile down FR650, my right side tie rod came loose from the centerlink. This of course makes it quite difficult to steer since you can only turn one wheel. On the trail repairs were undertaken. We had the tie rod extracted from where it had wedged under the axle/CV joint when 10 trucks from the "Motorola Wheelers" came down the trail the other way. They patiently waited and even helped as I re-filed the threads on the inner tie rod end. The joint was still intact but the threads had been seriously mangled as it came loose. Fortunately I was packing a couple spare nuts. After about 1:20 hours, repairs were complete. I backed out so the Mototrola trucks could get past, then we followed them back out on FR172 as that was the shortest way back to pavement. In about a mile, we caught up to them as they were changing a tire on a Bronco parked on a 10-degree slope. This job took a while as one of the wheel studs had bad threads. Needless to say I was not complaining even a little about the holdup on the trail. The day got even more bizzare when the OTHER tie rod fell off about 2 miles down the road. This repair only took about 15 minutes, so we made it back out to route 60 about sunset. It seems that John/John failed to tighten the tie rod ends sufficiently when we installed the lift kit. It is remarkable that they both came off so close together since I'd run the whole Pizza Run last week without incident. The trip reached a high cholesterol conclusion with steak and prime rib at "Yolonda's Chuckwagon" at AZ79 & Cactus Forest Road (this place wins our seal of approval). Since we never did make it the whole way down FR650, a return trip will be needed at some point.

August 14, 1999

John and Skip in the "weenie Blazer" and John in "The River...." had breakfast at Claire's Cafe in Catalina. Then we drove to Florence Junction. From Hwy 60 we turned north on Queen Creek (Queen Valley?) Road, then East on FR 357 (unmarked), then north on FR172. The scenery quickly becomes spectacular. We took FR172a to the Roger's Trough trailhead where we had lunch. The area was remarkably devoid of other people and vehicles given the moderate temperatures in the low 90's. After lunch we headed south on FR650. They have bladed the obstacles on the first mile of this trail, so 4WD was barely needed all day. We got some pinstripes exploring a short side trail, and then continued south on the Reevis Canyon Trail. FR650 winds through pines and junipers up to nearly 5000 feet, so the temperatures were quite pleasant (as August in Arizona goes). Scenery was spectacular as advertised on both parts. At the moment, any 4x4 vehicle could handle this whole trip without any risk of damage. In some places monsoon rains were working hard to erode the trail, so that might not always be true. We came out just half a mile west of the Boyce-Thompson arboretum near Superior, so we stopped there for an hour. Then we went home by way of Hayden, so we could have a huge Mexican dinner at Casa Rivera. We got back in Tucson in time to participate in the big thunderstorm.

See the article on this area in the September 1999 issue of Arizona Highways.

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Last modified: Wed Sep 15 15:50:36 1999