“A drive on the Apache Trail is one of the most scenic drives near the Phoenix area” (phoenix/about.com/daytrips).
“Some of the best scenery in central Arizona can be seen right from a car window along the Apache Trail” (arizona-leisure.com)—“40 miles of steep, winding and mostly unpaved road past magnificent scenery of twisted igneous mountains with dense forests of saguaro and ferocactus, and several deep blue lakes” (americansouthwest.net/arizona/apache_trail/).
Along with these enticing images came the following observations from the same web sites: “Still, I have a warning for you: This drive is not for nervous drivers, and definitely not for nervous passengers.”
“…but it is the western half which is the most scenic and well-known; however caution is required when driving.”
“…but please don't (pull over to take photos) unless there's an obvious pullout. You don't want to try to get a tow truck out to the Apache Trail.”
“Drive slow, and for heaven's sake, don't drink before driving this road.”
And lastly: “Little known tidbit: test drivers from General Motors Proving Grounds used to use the Apache Trail to test tires and vehicle maneuverability.”
And since Jesse, cousin Raina’s husband, was very capably handling the driving, I could marvel at Nature’s scenery, which was in stark contrast to the architectural “scenery” of the nearby—and seemingly endless—Phoenix metropolitan area.
Turning off US 60 at Apache Junction and onto AZ 88, we passed the Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman State Park…. Ahhhh, the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine….
Before my imagination begins working on the possibility of stumbling onto the Lost Mine—I certainly won’t be buying a map to the mine; not this kid—I have to know that the story of Jacob Waltz finding a gold mine in these mountains is true.
Well, I’ve read that Jacob Waltz did exist, but beyond that fact lies a lot of…uncertainty. And even though I read that “no landmark in the history of the Southwest has generated so many interesting tales of lost gold and resulted in more deaths than Superstition Mountain,” there are intriguing clues from Waltz like: "From my mine you can see the military trail, but from the military trail you can not see my mine." "The rays of the setting sun shine into the entrance of my mine" (ajpl.org/aj/superstition).
But back to our present-day objective: Canyon Lake, at mile 15 of the 80-mile Apache Trail.
Our first view of the stunning lake surrounded by the canyon’s mountains drove out all thoughts of finding the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.