3 out-of-state hikers lost in Superstition Mountains found safe

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Stella Inger

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 6:51 AM

Updated Saturday, Mar 16 at 7:36 AM

Map: Superstition Mountains

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APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. -- Search teams from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office have found three overdue hikers who spent the night in the Superstition Mountains.

The hikers, two men and a woman, all in their 50s, were supposed to return at 5 p.m. Sunday, but nobody had heard from them. Family members reported them missing at about 10 p.m.

Searchers launched their operation from the First Water Trailhead, which is where the trio planned to hike. Their SUV was found in the parking area at the base of the trail.

The three hikers were found safe at about 7:45 a.m., nearly 18 hours after they were originally due.

The trio talked to the pilot of the MCSO chopper, apparently telling him that they had simply taken a wrong turn and wanted to hike out on their own. The pilot pointed them in the right direction.

Aerial video from the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper showed the three hikers walking on the trail. They all appeared to be just fine.

According to MCSO spokesman Brandon Jones, the three are experienced hikers, but it was not clear if they had the necessary gear for an overnight stay. The overnight temperature dropped into the low 40s in the Superstition Mountains, perhaps even the high 30s in some areas.

"They are out-of-state, from Michigan," Jones said. "They've never hiked this area. Being experienced hikers, hopefully they are used to conditions like this."

The group reportedly had plenty of water and food with them and had made sure that somebody knew their plans.

It's not uncommon for hikers, many of them treasure-hunters, to get lost in the Superstition Mountains, which is home to Lost Dutchman State Park and the famous Lost Dutchman's Mine.

According to Jones, it happens when hikers leave the marked trails.

First Water Trail is located just north of Apache Junction and is one of the easiest access points to the Superstition Wilderness Area, which is part of the Tonto National Forest.

The Superstition Mountains are about 50 minutes east of Phoenix near Apache Junction.

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