Superstition Dayhikes, 2002
Superstition Wilderness, Arizona

Click on any image to enlarge.

The large Supersitiion Wilderness is a backyard hiking playground to residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Consisting of 160,000 acres of wild desert lowlands and highlands and 180 miles of trails, the "Supes" provide plenty of opportunity to get away from the crowd. During 2002, we visited the Superstitions on three separate occasions. Below are a few pictures from our hikes.

Fremont Saddle, the hard way

March, 2002

Our first hike was an unplanned trip to Fremont Saddle, via the "back way". Our original intention was to walk a 12 mile loop around Weavers Needle on the Bluff Springs, Terrapin, Dutchman, and Peralta trails. Shortly into the hike, we made a wrong turn and accidentally found ourselves on a secondary trail departing Barks Canyon. We hadn't gone more than 1/4 mile when we realized our error, but the trail looked interesting enough that we decided to abandon our original plan to see where the secondary trail led.

Peralta Trailhead

Bluff Springs Trail

Wildflowers along the way

The secondary trail soon turned into a tertiary trail and after awhile disappeared altogether, leaving us in a remote canyon with no obvious path to follow. Our options were clear: retrace our steps back to Barks Canyon, or press on travelling crosscountry in search of a known landmark. We had a reasonably good idea where we were and after thinking about it for awhile, we decided to bushwhack up to a high ridge and see if we could spot the Peralta Trail which surely was not very far away. Sure enough, after climbing the ridge, we found ourselves on a familiar extension of the Peralta Trail, a little farther along than the popular destination of Fremont Saddle. We sat for awhile, enjoying the view and the magnificent day, then plodded back down to our starting point, glad to be walking on smooth trail for a change. Even though our orignal plan didn't materialize, we had just as much fun by exploring the "back way to Fremont Saddle".

We came from down there!

Soaking in the views

Heading back down

Boulder Canyon Loop

November, 2002

The Boulder Canyon loop is an 11 mile loop starting at the First Water trailhead on the Superstition's far west side. Following the Second Water, Boulder Canyon, and Dutchmans trails, we would walk roughly a triangular loop around Black Mesa. Although there were few spectacular views on this hike, there was an abundance of beautiful scenery as we made our way through classic Sonoran landscape.

Shortly after leaving the trailhead, we turned left onto the Second Water trail and made our way toward Boulder Canyon. Along the way, we passed through Garden Valley, which is a lush flat full of healthy cholla. After 3.2 miles on the Second Water trail, we descended into Boulder Canyon and picked up the Boulder Canyon trail (what else?) for the next leg of our trip.

Garden Valley

Descent into Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek

The trail through Boulder Canyon is mostly level with many crossings of the stream bed, which was dry on our day. In other periods, we have seen this creek swollen with spring runoff that would have required knee-deep wading to cross the stream, but on this fall day there was no water to be found. After 3.2 miles of weaving our way through the canyon, crossing the dry stream bed many times, we arrived at the junction with the Dutchmans trail, which would be the final leg of this triangular loop. Another 4+ miles brought us back to our starting point at the First Water trailhead.



Loving Arizona

Miners Needle Loop

December, 2002

The loop around Miners Needle is a favorite and provides a welcome alternative to the crowds found on the Peralta Trail, which also begins at the Peralta trailhead. Although the trailhead parking area was more than half full, the vast majority of hikers choose the popular Peralta trail to Fremont Saddle as their destination. There is good reason for that, since that hike is a spectacular one, but our loop would allow us to see only 1 or 2 people instead of the scores that would be on the Peralta trail. We began by taking the Dutchmans trail for a stroll through lush and beautiful Barkley Basin, working our way to the always visible Miners Needle.

Miners Needle ahead

Barkley Basin views

Climbing out of the basin

After 2.5 miles, we arrived at the base of Miners Needle and the junction with the Coffee Flat trail. Staying with the Dutchmans trail, we began the mile-long, steady climb to the saddle above the needle. Along the way, we were treated to great views behind us back into Barkley Basin. Miners Needle looks fairly unclimbable from its western side, but from the north and east, an obvious, steep slope leads to a high notch near its summit.

Heading for Miners Needle

Where we're going

Views high up

Shortly before topping out on our climb, we took the short, but strenuous side trip to the high notch near the needle's summit. Although only 10-15 minutes in duration, the climb was a real thigh-buster! We were rewarded for our efforts with a dizzying view into the sprawling Barkley Basin, 1000' feet below.

Peering over the edge

View from Miners Needle into the Barkley Basin

After spending nearly an hour at our precipitous viewpoint, we scrambled back down to the trail and continued the remaining climb to the saddle and a junction with the Whiskey Spring trial. Here we turned left and walked a gentle descent until we arrived at the Bluff Spring trail at the Base of Bluff Spring Mountain. Following the Bluff Spring trail, we soon entered scenic and secluded Barks Canyon. Barks Canyon roughly runs parallel to Peralta Canyon and lies one ridge to the northeast. Barks is every bit as beautiful as Peralta, but lacks the dramatic view of Weavers Needle that Peralta hikers find at Fremont Saddle. Barks also lacks the crowds, of which we were thankful.

Into Barks Canyon

Following a stream bed

Water in Barks Canyon

We weaved our way through Barks Canyon, climbed out, and then began a long, somewhat steep and rocky descent back to the trailhead. We finished late in the day, but also had a somewhat late start, not beginning our loop hike until nearly 11am. When done, we enjoyed some relaxation time and reflected back on another good year in the Supersititions.

End of the trail

| Home | Recent Hikes | Older Hikes | Vacations | Family | Site Map |