Hiking Arizona's Superstition & Mazatzal Country
by Bruce Grubbs (Falcon Guides)
© 2000 Bruce Grubbs/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
We enjoyed hiking this beautiful trail. The first section, up to the Whiskey Springs junction, is scenic with lots of wild flowers. Even with the limited precipatation this year, the desert is still blooming.
IMPORTANT: Our only trouble was with the printed directions. At the Terrapin junction, the printed directions say to turn left; however, you want to continue straight on Dutchman if you want to get to Peralta trail.
Terrapin Trail past Weaver's Needle is overgrown and sometimes the trail is difficult to locate. Watch for the pink ribbons and rock Cairns (rock towers) to help guide you on the trail. It helped us tremendously.
The other thing was the mileage...it's off. Estimated mileage for the total hike is 14.8 miles but our GPS says just over 16 miles. This made for a long day hike. We hiked the Bluff Springs Loop two weeks later. Rattlesnakes are out (we spotted two). Be careful.
We did a portion of this trail from First Water to Charliebois Spring and took it back on our return to First Water. The trail was fairly easy with gentile elevation changes. We were able to view Weavers needle from many different angles. There was no water along the trail accept for some at Charliebois Sprng. I would recomend that this be done as an overnight trip or an ALL day trek.
This was a surprisingly varied and beautiful introduction to the desert.
Besides the geologic features you expect in a mountainous desert environment, the hike featured (at least at this time of year) a number of streams, pools and springs. The wildlife was of course congegrated at this features, and the sudden blazes of green vegetation made for a startling feature in the volcanic rock and sand. That said, the spring rains had also brought a thin carpet of green wildflowers that lightly coated the entire desert (except where the numerous rocks jutted) although I was about a week early to see them bloom.
The geologic features are striking, from eroded pinnacles of volcanic plugs (called needles) to deep arroyos and hills comprised of hundred foot high waves of boulders. The clarity along this hike is misleading, what looks to be an impossible distance away is actually the next turn in the hike only two or three miles distant.
The hike is slightly strenuous, and even in spring a 7 am start time ended up with high temperatures by the noon completion. I started the southern direction, then headed north into the higher hills and mountains. The climb is easy, except for a steep bit at the last 2 miles, its the sheer length that makes this a good hard day hike. Good quality trail, but still primitive. The end of the trail brought a few miles along a knee deep seasonal stream before heading over the steep ridges, and the sight of that much water in the arid Southwest volcanic desert was a beautiful contrast Bring a map, compass and water (water sources are seasonal and of unreliable quality). The map and compass are more useful to identify the many mountain features, green areas and volcanic needles, rather than being required for trail finding.
You will be surprised, pleased and leave this hike with a new apprecation for the desert and put this trail on par with the more traditional forest/waterfall hiking of the Rockies or Sierra Nevada.
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