Fall Hike and Photos by Dale Kesel

Click photos for larger size

Paralta Trail. A Beautiful Fall Hike on the Backside of the Superstitions.

October and November are great months to tackle this beautiful trail. The trail winds uphill from the trailhead for about 5 miles until it reaches an overlook point with a spectacular view of Weaver's Needle.

At this point, you can decide just to rest and take in the awesome beauty of the panoramic views, explore the various rock formations (some of which remind me of The Parthenon), or follow one of the trails that go west down into the canyon toward the base of Weaver's Needle.

For this photographer, a 10-mile hike was enough. I took my time going up the trail and captured many images of the monuments, rock formations and vegetation along the way. I arrived at the overlook about 3 hours after leaving the parking lot at the trailhead. I spent an hour and a half at the overlook point and then decsended back to where we parked the car. The hike back was downhill and was completed in half the time we took to go up.

Overall, we spent 6 hours on the hike. It was one of the most rewarding hikes I have ever taken. The foliage was beginning to show signs of turning golden from the overnight frosts. This mixture of gold and green, along with the ominous appearance of the monstrous rock formations extending upward from the top ridge of the mountains created wonderful photographic opportunities. It occurred to me as I viewed the slides from the hike, that the time of day and time of year were, in fact, perfect.

The road to the Paralta Trailhead goes North off of the Superstition HIghway a few miles east of Gold Canyon Resort. The trailhead is about 12 miles from th Highway. Signs mark the road on the Superstiition Highway. Don't be fooled by all of the new home construction that is goingon at the intersection of Paralta Trail Road and the highway. Beyond this new construction is a beautiful, pastoral area where you will find little evidence of cvilization other than an occasional car transporting hikers to and from various trailheads that go off in different directions exploring the east side of the Superstition Mountains.

The best time to go is early in the morning - arriving at the trailhead about 7 or 7:30 a.m. At this time, the sun is low and the light on the rock formations and vegetation is soft and beautiful. And, if you are extremely lucky, as I was when I last hiked this trail, you may have the added benefit of some early morning fog that lays in among the monuments alongthe trail, creating a very mystical dimension to the images you capture with your camera as you hike up the trail. By mid morning, the mist burns off and you lose the effect- another reason to rise early.

If you are leaving from Phoenix, give yourself an hour and a half to get to the trialhead.

If you would like to put together a group to go on this hike and would like the company of and direction from a professional photographer, please contact me at:
dkesel@keselimages.com or call me at 480-496-9272