Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Visiting Here Never Gets Old
February 1, 2016
One of our favorite places for a relaxing and beautiful hike is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park on Highway 60 just south of Superior, Ariz. This lovely place is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has over two miles of trails to explore. It is $10 per person to enter, and that includes guided nature walks if you want to go on one. They also have classes that you can sign up for, including photography and various craft classes. There are fees for the classes.
'Walk About' Australia
We love to visit the Arboretum because it is a dynamite place for a great hike. Occasional signs tell you the names of plants, and there are so many loops and meanderings that you can spend a whole day exploring. One of our favorite areas is the Australian Desert Exhibit. The Walkabout Trail and the Adelaide Trail let you investigate this part of the park and it's filled with Australian plants.
There's even an old cabin you can peer into to see how the drovers lived. There's a windmill and bridge next to the cabin, and picnic tables scattered around so you can enjoy a break.
A High Hike
If you want to, you can access the High Trail from this area. The high trail starts by descending into the Queen Creek Wash, then steadily climbing to the side of a hill on the farther side. It isn't a difficult climb or a hard hike, but there are several very rocky parts and some areas where the loose rocks make for tricking footing.
The ranger also warned us about possible ice on the trail, since it is on the shady side of a mountain in the morning - so definitely not a wheelchair or stroller trail, but not too difficult for kids and reasonably agile adults. Keep your eyes on the kids because it is entirely possible to take a long tumble downhill from parts of this trail The High Trail gives you a gorgeous view of the park, the creek, and the surrounding mountains. There are places with stone stairs as well, and I always love those on a trail.
Picket Post House, Ayer Lake
The High Trail cuts across the side of the mountain then crosses Queen Creek again, this time on a suspension bridge that lets you enjoy a nice view of the creek, which usually has water in it at this point. Once you cross the creek, you hit the main trail pretty quickly, and you can choose to go left and back toward the Australian area, or you can go right and follow the main trail toward Picket Post House and the Ayer Lake.
This part of the trail also has some uphill portions, but they are wide and have an easy slope. The only caveat here is that the loose decomposed granite can be a bit slippery at times. This main trail has a lot of great loops on both sides once you pass the lake, and you can miss a lot if you don't do the trails on both sides.
Be sure to grab a map as you enter the park so you can keep track of what you've seen. The Silver Creek Mine trail is not for wheelchairs or strollers unless they have off-road wheels - it takes you down a wash with deep, loose sand.
There are greenhouses with cacti and plants from all over the world to explore, and the Demonstration Garden is gorgeous. Walking through the various parts of the Arboretum lets you imagine that you are in a different country. This time of year is a great time to visit - summer might be a bit hot.
We chose to drive into Superior for lunch after our visit, but you can eat in the park at one of many picnic tables. There's no restaurant, but you can buy sandwiches and snacks in the Gift Shop, and you can even bring lunch and cook on your own propane stove if you want to. Charcoal grills are also available, but you need to call ahead and see if charcoal is allowed when you visit.
We had lunch at De Marco's Italian Restaurant in Superior. It's a little place, and you have to keep a sharp eye out to find it. All four of us had a sub of some kind, and they are enormous! They were also extremely delicious and very reasonably priced.
After lunch we took a quick drive through the town of Superior, something we had never done before, even though we've driven up Highway 60 many times. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the downtown area looks like a lot of fun, with little shops that reminded us of the places we saw in Jerome. We were on a deadline to get the kids home, but we all decided that we're going back soon to explore the downtown shops and any other trails we can find.
Thompson Loved The Area
Boyce Thompson Arboretum is named after Boyce Thompson, a millionaire with a fascinating life story that is too long to go into here. He is the one who built the Picket Post House, because he loved the area. He was the great-uncle of Bill "Wallace" Thompson, the Wallace of the Wallace and Ladmo Show, which had an amazing 35-1/2 year run on Channel 5. If you go to the Web site for the State Park or to the Boyce Thompson home page, you can find out a lot more about the history of the park.
A Fantastic Place
Well-behaved dogs on leashes are allowed in the park. You can buy all kinds of plants and cool stuff at the Gift Shop, and there is plenty of free parking. This is a fantastic place for birding, seeing butterflies, learning about plants, or just taking a relaxing walk in gorgeous surroundings. I highly recommend you visit Boyce Thompson Arboretum. We've been there many times and it never gets old.