Best Ruins Phoenix 2011 - Willow Spring Trail
There's something exciting about coming across the remnants of a human settlement while on a long hike through an otherwise barren landscape. Who lived here? Why this spot? Where'd they go? How the hell did they get up all that stuff up here? In the case of the abandoned ranch just off the Willow Springs Trail through the White Tank Mountains on the Valley's western edge, at least one of these questions is easy to answer. The men who settled here — from the looks of it, cattle ranchers — picked the shadiest spot around, near a deep spring. The White Tanks are named for the granite pools that collect water on their face, reserves that have drawn human inhabitants for thousands of years, as demonstrated by the petroglyphs that line these peaks like graffiti in a rail yard, left by the seven villages of Hohokam who once settled here. Yet this little riparian spot is still uniquely captivating. Barbed wire, several long rock fences, a rusty water tank, and the ruins of what looks like a house give a glimpse into the hardscrabble lives of the people who settled this town before the advent of air conditioning and 10-lane freeways. Explore for a bit before heading back down into society — or moving on to The Black Rock Trail, which takes you to less-preserved Indian ruins.