Experience Superior: Hike Haunted Canyon


Experience Superior: Hike Haunted Canyon

Distance: 11.5 miles if you go all the way to Toney's Ranch.

Difficulty: Moderate

Dog Friendly: Yes!

Permit/Pass Required: No

Getting There: See Map

Tips: Getting to the trailhead is the hardest part about this hike. After turning onto Pinto Valley Mine Road off of US-60, go past the first speed bump when it looks like you are entering the mine. DO NOT ENTER THE MINE. Instead you turn will left on FS-287 and follow it 7 mi and turn left just before the iron bridge. Trail starts 1.5 miles from the gate there.

About the Hike: This trail starts out on a flat dirt road for 1.7 miles. At the official trailhead you will pass through the gate (make sure to close it behind you), it becomes and up and down trek on some loose rock but nothing too steep or slippery. You eventually drop down into the canyon and hike along a damp dirt path that crosses back and forth along the creek. Lose the trail? Just follow the creek. I've hiked Haunted canyon when the creek is full flow and no flow. Either way, come prepared to get your feet wet just in case. I usually wear hiking sandals for this journey so I can splash around with the pup. Just make sure if you do the same they have decent tread for the initial scramble up the hillside.

Haunted Canyon has it's history and if you can make it to Toney's Ranch, you'll be faced head-on with it. But it's history goes back even farther than the old 1915 homestead of William Toney. All the way back to the Apache who found great importance to this place.

"There is an old Indian story about Haunted Canyon. It’s a tale about where the sun introduces the sky to the wind. When the sun hides and the sky becomes dark, the wind blows through Haunted Canyon calling to the dead." ~ Thomas J. Kollenborn

Kollenborn goes on in his blog post about this wondrous canyon, "Bear grass, agaves, jojoba, pinyon and acorns can all be found in the canyon. These were all staples for the Apache at certain times of the year...Many years ago a rancher found a skeleton of a bear in the cave. The cave was filled with stone arrowheads, again attesting to the use of the canyon by the Apache or other early inhabitants of the area."

So is it haunted? Well, let me tell you a story.

Another great thing about this trail is it's a backpacker's paradise. Dispersed campsites can be found scattered along the creek and many venture out to camp at Toney's ranch. The cabin still filled with items needed for those overnight adventures as well as a log book recording the names of all who have been there. On one occasion, as my friend and I were meandering along the trail, we started discussing how we should really camp next time, pointing out a great spot we stumbled upon as we wove through the thick manzanita.

"OUCH!"

"What?!"

"Something just FLICKED me."

And it did. Right in her behind. She had the red mark to prove it and a slight bruise to back it up the next day.

Friendly flick? Maybe. But I'm guessing the original inhabitants of this magical place would like to make us all aware of how sacred it was and truly still is.

If you visit, remember that. Leave no trace. Pack it in, pack it out. And always leave it better than you found it....because you never know who might be watching.

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