SLHC members hike in Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

SLHC member Mike Josephson coordinated a great experience for the club in Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park this past season. Many made the trek up to Superior, Arizona, to join Mike and guide Rich Adams, a park volunteer, for a narrated walk along the unique hiking trails the Arboretum has to offer.

There are a number of hiking trails in the Arboretum, and some of them are wheelchair friendly. The Main Trail is about a mile and a half long, and the other trails split off from it. Don’t let the mile-and-a-half trail length fool you into thinking you can see what the Arboretum has to offer in a short period of time, though. You may want to spend the better part of a day exploring.

Arizona’s oldest botanical garden, the Arboretum, was founded in the 1920s by mining titan Colonel William Boyce Thompson, the owner of Magma Mine in Superior. Thompson, also a philanthropist, nurtured a lifelong interest in nature and especially the relationship between plants and humankind.

The Arboretum is now part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona and is home to not only native Arizona flora, but representative plants and trees from other desert areas of the world like Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and the Chihuahuan Desert of southern Mexico. You will see towering eucalyptus (redgum) trees, candle-shaped boojum trees (which are really succulents), jojoba trees, a variety of cacti, and also sprawling pack rat nests, lots of hummingbirds, a suspension bridge and rocky cliffs. You will learn about how desert plants were used as food sources by the Salado and other Native American tribes.

From May to September, the Arboretum is open from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Entrance is free for children 4 and under and costs $5 for children ages 5-12 and $12.50 for all others. The Arboretum also offers painting classes, birding hikes, butterfly walks, photography meet-ups, rock and geology guided walks and periodic concerts. Check its website, https://azstateparks.com/boyce-thompson/events, to learn about these events.

The hiking season for the Sun Lakes Hiking Club is November through April. The official scheduled hikes are described on the club website, meetup.com/sun-lakes-hiking-club. Even though the season has come to a close, hiking continues unofficially on some mornings during the summer months. If you are interested in summer hiking, please contact Stu Frost by emailing him at [email protected]