Have you ever dreamt of hiking 7 miles to an abandoned farm that is accessible only by foot? Bonus that is includes a wild apple orchard? And pine trees in the Arizona desert? If the answer was no, this is probably not your blog (and definitely not your blog post). But if yes, put this trail high on your list. The hike to Reavis Ranch is awesome. And the option to camp there makes it incrementally better.
The Stats: Trail name: Reavis Ranch via Rogers Trough Trail Location: Superstition Mountain Range way past Gold Canyon, AZ Distance: 14 miles out and back Elevation Gain: 1,374 feet Published Difficulty: Moderate Dog Friendliness: A reavis-ounding yes
History. Because it’s important.
Reavis Ranch is named after an elusive hermit named Elisha Reavis, who was aptly named the “Hermit of Superstition Mountains.” In the 1800s, Mr. Reavis hiked back into the Superstition wilderness, where he established a small farm, complete with an apple orchard that produces fruit to this day.
Back then, our friend Mr. Reavis would hike miles upon miles, carrying his produce to Florence where he would sell it to the townsfolk. He died on the trail in 1896 while en route to Florence and was found half eaten by coyotes. Once found, he was buried on the spot. His remains are marked by a rocky gravesite alongside his beloved trail. We did not find said site, but we also didn’t look very hard, so don’t be discouraged. I’m told it’s a short ways off trail. He looks friendly enough. And I’m sure it’s not haunted.
Getting to the trailhead.
There are a few different ways you can access Reavis Ranch, but we chose the Rogers Trough trailhead, so that’s the information you’ll be getting here.
Rogers Trough trailhead, while a bit shorter than the other routes, is a little steeper. You’ll thank the switchbacks for the assist up to the saddle. More on that later.
Perhaps more notable is that the road to the trailhead is beautiful, but it gets kind of rough toward the end. Make sure you have a high clearance vehicle or you may find yourself in a sketchy situation. I drove my non-four wheel drive Mazda CX5 there the first time and we made it, but it was interesting.
Once you arrive, you’ll park in a pretty large parking lot with the trailhead and the fantastic wilderness ahead of you.
The trail to Reavis Ranch
From the Rogers Trough trailhead, take the Reavis Ranch trail into Rogers Canyon. The trail will begin with a descent until you reach the Rogers Canyon Trail intersection at about 1.5 miles.
At the intersection, veer right (aka follow the sign) and begin the uphill climb to the Reavis Saddle. The ascent begins through a short boulder field, followed by the expected Superstition desert brush terrain. The views along the way that are spectacular. At about the 3 mile mark, you’ll reach the saddle. If you’ve started early enough, this might be a great time for a break. The saddle offers a few camping spots with “seating” (logs) should you so choose before continuing your trek toward the ranch. It also offers landscape change numero uno: Pinon Pines and Juniper trees. We didn’t need a break on the way in, but this was a killer stop on the trek out.
From the saddle, you begin a gentle but consistent descent down through the floor of Reavis Canyon. Introducing landscape change numero dos. You’ll feel like you left Arizona and found your way into a shady forest filled with Ponderosa pines and grassy meadows. Not, in any way, reminiscent of the Arizona desert. It’s a little surreal.
We started the hike way too late in the day (about 2pm) so were nearing dusk with a definite 3+ miles to go. Given the abundance of bear scat along the trail, and the eerie feeling of being stalked in the grass fields, we didn’t stop for photos. Don’t do what we did. Start early (at least earlier).
As you get deeper into the pine tree forest, you’ll come across what’s referred to as the Medusa Mother Tree. The tree – an alligator Juniper, named for its flaky bark – is estimated at somewhere between 600 and 1,000 years old. During the Woodbury fires, firefighters focused on making sure this particular tree didn’t burn. I think that says something.
Camping at Reavis Ranch
About 6.5 miles in, you’ll come across the stream that should be running. Be aware, though, that time of year is crucial. If you’re too late in the season (aka AZ summer), this “stream” will resemble a wet mud puddle with very little running water. This is not the time to plan on using your filtration system as your water source. Even if you do have a Grayl filter (one the best, IMO).
We chose to set up camp close to the stream source, which was about a half mile away from the ranch. It was a beautiful little spot right next to the stream with quick, easy access to the trail for further exploration in the morning. Not to mention tall trees so we could elevate the food. Remember that bear poop that I talked about? Yeah.
You’ll know you’re at the ranch when you reach a large, open meadow. Soon after entering, you’ll start to stumble upon the unlikely remains of a farmland that once was. This includes rusted out farm equipment, the foundation of what seems like an improbable home, and a Snow White-style apple orchard. If you’re here at the right time, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of the trees that, to this day, produce apples in the wild. Such a cool and unexpected desert oasis.
Without a doubt, as big as my hand. Man, I love this shit. Happy hiking, my friends!
Want to explore more of what the Superstitions have to offer?
You absolutely should. This place is a wonderland.