Legends Of Superior Trails Taking Outdoor Recreation To New Heights
The year 2020 has been one for the books, from the COVID-19 pandemic to record heat waves. There has been a lot of unknowns for us to face, but the constant has been #RuralArizona and what it has to offer.
The Town of Superior recently has undergone a branding enhancement, with a new tagline of “Superior, Adventure Elevated”. Adventure can be swapped out with any activity really, but most importantly, safety of its residents and visitors is number one! “Superior, Safety Elevated” really stands true out on the trails in and around the Town.
Legends of Superior Trail, also known as LOST, was incorporated and designated a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization in 2015. The group has been working collaboratively with the Town of Superior and the Arizona Trail Association since 2006, to make this dream a reality. With some of the most breathtaking views in the State, the LOST Trail runs from Picket Post Mountain through Superior and to the old Claypool Tunnel on Old Highway 60. Some of the most popular segments include Arnett Canyon and Queen Creek. With close to 11 miles of trails, there is a segment and view for everyone!
We recently caught up with LOST Vice President Jim Schenck to learn more about this impressive system of trails and what the future has in store.
Q) What partners came to the table to make this trail system a reality?
A) There have been so many that have contributed over the years to make the LOST Trail. They include Mayor Michael Hing, Mayor Mila Besich, Town of Superior employees, the US Forest Service, Arizona Trail Association, Resolution Copper and it’s employees, Superior Chamber of Commerce, Rebuild Superior, Inc., National Park Service, AmeriCorps NCCC, BHP mining, Superior and statewide volunteers, Anthem Walking group, and Arizona Department of Transportation.
Q) Tell us more about the 5 segments of the trail system?
A) From west to east the five segments are Arnett Canyon (6.5 miles) Pinal City Panther (1.2 miles), Miners & Ranchers (1.0 miles), Superior Town Center (0.7 miles), and Queen Creek Canyon (2.35 miles). When Highway 60 was widened to four lanes west of Superior through town, it eliminated much of the LOST trail on the west side of town. It was replaced by a much nicer segment, Arnett Canyon that was inaugurated in 2019. In early 2020, an AmeriCorps NCCC team worked with the Town of Superior and LOST to create the Pinal City Panther and Miners & Ranchers segments which make it possible to hike the entire trail without going along Highway 60 which had previously been the case.
Q) What activities are permitted along the trails?
A) The LOST is a non-motorized trail that welcomes hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. There are some short parts on US Forest Service land that are Forest Service roads that will have motorized 4x4s, etc. The LOST lends itself to photography, birding and just enjoying the beautiful views along its route with Picket Post and an Apache Leap at either end.
Q) What are the best seasons to come out and enjoy the LOST?
A) The LOST is within and surrounded by the Tonto National Forest with Superior at 2884 feet. In the summer, it is best to hike early in the morning, and at that time of the year the Queen Creek Canyon section has the sun the latest in the morning. In Fall through Spring all segments are nice. Arnett Canyon is a beautiful riparian area which both trees that change during the season as well as saguaro cactus.
Q) If you had to pick your favorite segment, what it would be and why?
A) I would say that is dependent on time of the year and mood! During the summer, it has been early morning hikes up Queen Creek Canyon taking you up the old historic road with beautiful views of the lower elevations below. In the cooler months, Arnett Canyon is especially beautiful with its varied twists, turns and cliffs above. The new Pinal City Panther and Miners & Ranchers make it possible to have a great hike from Main St. to Pinal City through the town’s Highway 60.
Q) What have been some of the biggest challenges in developing this comprehensive system of trails?
A) When a large section of the LOST was taken out by Highway 60, it was a great disappointment. However, many people worked hard to identify and make the Arnett Canyon segment a reality. It has worked out much better that the original route and was accomplished faster than we thought possible. Many said that the Pinal City Panther and Miners & Ranchers segments would never happen because of the different land owners. Private land owners, BHP mining and the Town of Superior came to agreements that made the route possible and work with ADOT allowed the trail to go under Highway 60.
Q) Tell us more about the proximity of LOST to the Arizona Trail and Superior's designation as a "gateway community?"
A) The Town of Superior and LOST is proud to be a gateway community to the #ArizonaTrail and it so posted on signs coming into Superior. The Arizona Trail goes from the Mexican border to Utah, with many through hikers doing the complete journey in one shot. Others enjoy different segments on their own. As a gateway community, we welcome hikers off the Arizona Trail to come into Superior and enjoy our town. Also, the LOST permits one to hike from Superior to the Arizona Trail’s trailhead at Picket Post, one of the top hiking destinations in the State!
Q) How can the community support the efforts of LOST?
A) The LOST website is: https://superioraztrails.com/ where there is additional information and the ability to donate directly to LOST. Before COVID, LOST held several Hashbrowns, History & Hiking sessions that included breakfast, a lecture and a hike. These were great events that were very popular and provided some income to LOST. When appropriate, we will have a community event to inaugurate the Pinal City Panther and Miners & Ranchers sections that were completed this year. Additionally, from time to time LOST asks for volunteers to work on trail maintenance; so this is another way to support the LOST. Finally, we ask that you share your knowledge about the LOST with friends, neighbors and visitors so that they can come enjoy this beautiful part of Arizona!
Q) Tell us more about the vision of the LOST and where do you see the trail system in 5 years?
A) LOST wants to help both residents and visitors to enjoy the beautiful outdoors surrounding Superior, Arizona. We are working to make Superior the premier recreational destination in Arizona. LOST is a member of the Recreational Users Group and has been working for the past few years in the design of trails and a campground that will part of the environmental mitigation offsets as part of Resolution Copper’s permitting process for the new copper mine. We see the current LOST feeding into the new trails planned for south of Superior. In the further future, LOST would like to see a trail that connects to the Queen Creek segment and runs along the base of Apache Leap.
Q) What is the top attraction/activity/destination a hiker on the trail MUST see/do while in the Town of Superior?
A) This answer varies with each hiker, biker or equestrian. Parts of the trail offer bird watching opportunities during different times of the year. When on the Town Center segment, we certainly recommend hikers to visit the historic downtown section of Superior for its shops and restaurants. Finally, the Arnett Canyon section runs right behind Boyce Thompson Arboretum which is the oldest nonprofit in Arizona and the biggest collection of arid lands plants in the state. It has vastly increased its holding and internal trails with the opening in October 2020 of the Wallace Garden section.
The Town of Superior is quickly becoming one of the top outdoor recreation destinations in the State of Arizona. With the recent addition of new segments to the popular long-standing segments, LOST offers something for every hiker. Fall temperatures are here to stay and now is the time to enjoy the many amenities on and off the Trail. Make #SuperiorAZ your next day trip destination and see why Superior is #AdventureElevated!
Check out LOST on Facebook and WEBSITE Our thanks go out to Jim Schenck for participating in this exciting Blog interview and for providing these gorgeous photos!
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Author: Adrea A France
October 28th 2020
About Adrea: Adrea France brings more than 20 years of Real Estate experience to the table. In that span of time,...