A Birthday Hike to the Massacre Grounds

Now I don’t know about you, but a trek to a place called Massacre Grounds isn’t something you’d find on everyone’s bucket list, especially on your Birthday, but that’s where we took Sylvia Wednesday. All together there were 51 of us on the club’s hike, which is about a 20 minute drive from the park. All but 3 or 4 of us made it all the way to the destination and when you consider that some of our members are in their late 70’s and the hike was 6.4 miles with 14oo feet of elevation gain it’s not surprising that some of us had difficulty with the final incline. Sylvia and I have been here once before, and knew what we were in for and were looking forward to the hike.

The weather has returned to much more seasonable temperatures, and it was very comfortable hiking in the high 60 to mid 70 temps we experienced. The story behind the name of this location has become rather muddled over time, but the generally accepted tale is that in the mid 1800’s Apache Natives attacked a number of Mexican Miners who were transporting gold back to their home base from what was then Mexican territory and massacred them at this location. Whether they drove them over the cliffs or dispatched them in some other manner is still up for debate. In the early 1900’s a couple of prospectors supposedly discovered $18,000 worth of gold ore in the area where the massacre occurred lending some credibility to the original story.


It was another terrific morning in the desert. The sky was blue with just a bit of wispy clouds. The recent snow and rains have left the desert quite green, and we were hoping there would be some water falling off the cliffs at Massacre Falls near our destination.


This Saguaro looks like it’s surrendering to the ravages of time.

IMG_9097 IMG_9160

I never tire of seeing the wide open spaces around here.IMG_9102

I really don’t know the name of this formation, but it does stand out quite nicely along the trail.


Looking back towards Superstition Mountain you could see the itty bitty clouds towards the south. At the base of the hillside is the Praying Hands formation that we hiked to a few weeks ago.IMG_9117

Towards the North and East the skies were clear. That’s 4 Peaks in the background. It’s the highest peak in this area and was covered in snow a few days ago.IMG_9125

By the time our slowpoke group arrived at the Massacre Grounds and stopped for a snack several others had already left to head back to the vehicles. Many of the hikers had been here multiple times, and as it’s really hard to get lost it wasn’t a big deal that some decided to head out on their own. Those of us with cameras are always slower anyway. IMG_9126

The Massacre Grounds themselves are actually at the bottom of this cliff. I wasn’t about to wander down to see if there was any gold left behind.


Not long after we sat down for lunch Debbie got everyone to sing Happy Birthday to Sylvia and pulled out a dozen little cupcakes for several of us to share. Sylvia was quite surprised, but she’s wondering if everyone’s birthday is now going to be celebrated this way on future hikes.


A portion of our group decided to wander over to Massacre Falls to see how much water was actually falling off the rockface. From a distance it didn’t look like very much, although the cliff did look wet. We stopped for a while to view the sights and when we got further along we found that we had been standing under this rock that was cantilevered out over the trail. I don’t think it’s going to fall anytime soon, but it’s not a place that I think we should be standing around for long either.


Here’s Sylvia standing at the base of Massacre Falls. She was rather disappointed in the amount of water falling, and had just renamed the place ‘Massacre Post-Nasal Drip’.


There was a little bit of water falling off the cliff, but not very much.


This is the view from the Falls trail looking back to where we stopped for our snack. IMG_9147

And just to show Hans that we got our money’s worth, we managed to get a small (very small) peek at Weaver’s Needle which he demands be seen on almost every club hike.  IMG_9167 IMG_9168 IMG_9169

Here’s some of the sights on our way back to the trucks. The orange flowers are Buckwheat and were pretty well the only flowers we saw on the trail. The cold weather recently has deterred all the other flowers we were seeing a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully that same cold will trigger more abundant displays later on in the season.

Following the hike we went back to the RV for a light lunch, a shower and a nap before we headed out to celebrate Sylvia’s birthday. For three years now we’ve been heading to Alessia’s Italian Ristorante and Wine Bar in Mesa. We discovered this little place one year when we went to the Palm Dinner Theatre for a show. When we left the show we noticed this quaint little Italian restaurant nestled in the corner of the strip mall. We decided to give them a shot for Sylvia’s birthday the next year and haven’t been disappointed. It’s a bit pricey, but the food and service is great, and they make wonderful desserts, just what the we need for a birthday celebration. Sylvia’s favourite is their Homemade Tiramisu, and she lets me order one Cannoli for myself. We leave the restaurant pleasantly plumped every time we go, and as it’s a special event, we don’t count the calories.

Sylvia was pleased to receive some calls and emails and even a special present from friends and family for her Birthday, and on top of the best cupcakes ever eaten at Massacre Grounds, she had a pretty good day.

Earlier this week Sylvia decided she really didn’t have enough to do, and wandered into the Line Dance class after our morning pickleball session. She took some classes 4 seasons ago, and tried her hand (foot) at it again during Monday’s Happy Hour. All it took was someone to invite her along and away she went. Unfortunately it brings up a problem with the insidious nature of Country Music. Ever since the class she’s been unable to get the song ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ out of her mind and when she mentioned it to me this morning I’ve found it bouncing around my head despite my best intentions to scrub any and all references to Billy Ray Cyrus. Oh well, we’ll see if Elvira is next on the mental playlist.

We’re back onto the pickleball courts this morning, and looking forward to seeing a fellow blogging couple, Rene and Jeanette, who are arriving here this afternoon for a week’s stay. They have other friends here in the park, and with their interest in golf and motorcycling I’m sure they’ll be kept busy.

Tomorrow we’re off on another hike, a new one for us, and that should be another great day. We’ll find some time to buy some groceries and do laundry somewhere, we hope.


4 responses to “A Birthday Hike to the Massacre Grounds

  1. Know what you mean about “Achey Breaky” sticking in the head! Just wait until we do “He drinks tequila and she talks dirty in Spanish”!!!! Another song with incredible lyrics that just won’t go away!! But it’s so much fun – hope Sylvia plans on making line dancing one of her regular activities – it was fun to dance with her!!


  2. We had not had a chance to read your blog before we visited with you Thursday evening. So, we did not know that Sylvia had just celebrated a birthday. We take this opportunity to wish you a very happy birthday, Sylvia. A nice lunch out sounded great.

    Thanks for the nice welcome to Canyon Vista.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Today we hiked Bluff Springs Loop and my pace in leading folks was set
    to the speed of Elvira playing in my head. Aghhhh, 5 hours of constant Elvira! Sorry to have been one of the first to leave the Massacre Grounds bluff and miss the birthday party. Happy belated Birthday Sylvia.


  4. Happy Birthday Sylvia. Just an intimate party with 50 of your friends 🙂


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