Historical Society to host Fall Trek to Aravaipa and around the mountain

File Photo By Diane Drobka: The Fall Trek will circumnavigate Mount Graham with several stops, including the Bonita Store.

By Diane Drobka

Graham County – Conquistadors and Salado farmers, devout believers, and notorious outlaws will all play a part in the Graham County Historical Society’s Fall Trek on Saturday, Sept. 21.

The expedition will meet at the Graham County Electrical Cooperative parking lot on U.S. 70 in Pima at 8:30 a.m. and depart at 9 a.m. Carpooling is encouraged and the public is welcome. The party will return to Safford by 4 p.m.

The group will travel southwest from Pima through the Cedar Springs Country, stopping in Eagle Pass, which some historians believe to be the route the Coronado Expedition followed in 1540 A.D. Descending into the Aravaipa Valley, the route turns west into Klondyke, with a stop at the Klondyke Store, another at the Salazar Family Chapel, and on to the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness boundary. Desert bighorn sheep are often seen on the canyon walls above this area.

File Photo By Diane Drobka: A stop at Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling Canyon is also planned, weather permitting.

Weather and road conditions permitting, the group will drive three miles into Turkey Creek Canyon. A short hike leads to a small cliff dwelling, evidence of Salado farmers and hunters who inhabited the canyon seasonally circa 1300 to 1450 A.D.

Returning eastward, the group’s next stop will be the Bonita Store, with an account of the beginnings of Billy the Kid’s criminal career in that area. Back to paved roads through Stockton Pass, die-hards in the group will search for reported petroglyphs among the boulders east of the pass. The return route will be north on U.S. Highway 191 into Safford, completing the circumnavigation of Mount Graham.

Trekkers should bring plenty of water and lunch. Vehicles should be in good repair, with high ground clearance preferred. For further information, contact Mike Crockett at (928) 792-8516.

The Graham County Historical Society provides educational programs and preserves artifacts and accounts of historical value from the region. Annual family memberships are $25.