Another week, another day off! After doing some advance scouting on Google Earth this past Friday morning, I got on the freeway and headed east out of the Valley.
While passing through Apache Junction, the mid-morning sunlight on the south face of the Superstition Mountains caught my eye. Back in December, I had taken a shot of the mountains in the mid to late-afternoon light and I thought it might be fun to compare the two.
I took a short diversion to the Jacob’s Crosscut Trailhead, which skirts the western edge of the mountains intersecting three other trails along the way. After hiking a short distance in, I got my shot and then headed back to the highway and continued my eastward journey.
Once again, I was heading to the town of Superior. Just southwest of the town lies one of the area’s most iconic landmarks, Picketpost Mountain. The mountain, named by soldiers stationed at a nearby military camp in the late 1800’s, was used by the soldiers as a sentinel to guard their camp from attacks. The military camp eventually grew into present-day Superior.
On my previous trip to the area, the bulk of my day was spent hiking Queen Creek Canyon and by the time I returned, the afternoon sun had left the mountain in a hazy shadow.
Driving into Superior the north side of the mountain is visible from the main road, which is shaded at this time of year. Therefore, I had some work to do to find a sunny vantage point. Right after entering town, I turned off the highway and followed a side road which led me past the high school and a new housing development . The road soon left civilization behind although the pavement continued on for a surprising distance.
Eventually, I found myself on a dirt Forest Service road which headed in the direction I needed to go and I soon ended up finding a great spot. As expected, Picketpost was a patient model allowing me to grab several snaps, both close-up and from a short distance back.
Whenever I end up in a back-country locale such as this, I always take some time to soak in the peace and solitude of my surroundings. Living in a city, which has become larger and more crowded during my lifetime, makes me appreciate moments such as this!
While I was enjoying my quiet break, I noticed the great view of Superior lounging in the sun below the always-imposing mountains. I decided to break out my tripod and long lens and grab a zoom shot or two.
After finally stashing my gear back in the truck, I headed back into town, although I was just passing through.
I began heading south on State Route 177, which leads past the enormous Ray Mine and past the communities of Kearny, Hayden, and Winkelman. A brief stop was made on the side of the road, before leaving the Superior area, to shoot another view of Picketpost.
A few miles before arriving in Kearny, the Florence-Kelvin Highway takes off from SR 177, making a 32-mile journey across Pinal County. The “highway” name is misleading as about 20 of its 32 miles are dirt. However, the county does a good job of maintaining the roadway and it is known as one of Arizona’s more scenic drives, especially during the spring wildflower season.
Shortly after leaving the main highway, one comes to the old townsite of Kelvin. Though a few homes and a trailer park mark the area now, the area’s past is represented by the ruins of an old adobe gas station which is butts up right against the road. I stopped to take a few shots of the historic structure, then continued on.
Right after passing the old building, the roadway crosses the Gila River. For many years, the crossing was an old single-lane bridge, but construction of a wider, taller bridge next to the older one is currently underway. I stopped and grabbed some shots of the bridge approach (Top photo) as well as from underneath. I also took a quick snap of the Copper Basin Railway crossing, just north of the river.
I hope to journey the entire Florence-Kelvin Highway at some point, however it was well into the afternoon at that point so I returned to Superior and grabbed some lunch!
I had tentative plans to travel the scenic road this Friday, however a winter storm system is moving through our state. This will likely dump some snow up the higher elevations of the state, so I may head north to take in some more winter-like scenery.
Picketpost Mountain shots can be found here: www.swimages.net/Superior-AZ/
Florence-Kelvin Highway gallery can be found here: www.swimages.net/Florence-Kelvin-Highway/