Dutchmans Loop Hike

Apache Junction, Arizona 85218

Dutchmans Loop Hike

Dutchmans Loop Hike Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This loop hike is very popular, and for good reason. It stays on well-graded, good trails throughout, yet passes through a variety of scenic terrain in the western Superstition Mountains.

Highlights include the pinnacles of Miners Needle; the towering triple summits of the Superstition Mountains’ most famous landmark, Weavers Needle; and the “stone ghosts”—volcanic stone hoodoos—of upper East Boulder Canyon and Peralta Canyon. It is an especially good introduction to backpacking for those new to the sport. surface: Dirt and rocks."

More Dutchmans Loop Hike Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Loop Hikes Arizona (The Mountaineers Books)
Bruce Grubbs
View more trails from this guide book
"far the most popular western Superstition hike, this very scenic desert loop starts from the Peralta Trailhead and uses the Bluff Spring, Terrapin, and Dutchman Trails to loop past the base of towering Weavers Needle and through classic western Superstition desert." Read more

Dutchmans Loop Hike Reviews

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The hike is awesome, for the first 6-7 miles, Peralta Trailhead becomes Dutchman becomes Bluff Springs becomes Dutchman once again (at least that's how I hiked it). Awesome scenery for the first 4 miles, then I started having moments like "am i still on the trail" and "jeez, didn't I just pass this?" because not only does the scenery get boring after 4mi, but after the first 7-8 miles the trail becomes unkept wilderness and 4 out of 5 times I got off the trail because there were more plant life hazards on the trail that off of it. I'm talking so many stinging prickly plants, my shorts were literally torn to shreds. Did I mention hostile Javalena and Rattlers? Well, not many, 1 angry Javalena and 2 Rattlers. Oh and I was attacked by bees too, forgot that one. Anyway I didn't know this was a loop and I went approximately 10 miles before turning around saying to myself "is this it? is this the trail? this is a horribly unkept trail!" 6 miles in the reverse direction got me lost twice in the river basins which I could not find a rock pile for the life of me, so this turned into 8 miles, and then I was lost. To top it off, my Camelback (water tank) had been leaking for quite some time and I had no water. I tried to call 911, but no service, I climbed the highest peak I could and got gps phone service to call the Pinal Sheriffs Dept. They sent search teams after maybe an hour, but I had had enough, I rolled my ankle on a steep slope, and limped around to the trailhead which at that time was only an hour away. I was greeted at the parking lot by the friendly SAR team, and they gave me a gatorade and a wet bandana to cool myself off. My verdict is, DON'T TRY TO COMPLETE THIS LOOP IN THE SUMMER, and until the last miles in the loop are cleared of hostile plant life, this trail should be scaled back on distance to 7-8 miles, the rest of the loop is simply not hikable until it is cleared.
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Wonderful scenic hike for a fall morning. Did 12 miles RT in 6 hours. I made this an Out and Back hike because I had difficulty locating where the Dutchman trail connected to make it a loop hike back to the TH, and didn't have the luxury of wandering around to find it. There are NO trail markers on any of the trails. Pay attention!
Trail coming back down to the TH is more stressful on the kness and ankles due to the large rocks and uneven terrain. For those of you 40+ I would HIGHLY recommend doing this hike with Ankle supported boots and trekking poles.
Great hike in a very unique area of the world. Highly recommend it.
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If you are looking for a true wilderness experience one hour from a city of 4 million, this is for you. We started out at Peralta TH on Suday afternoon heading for the saddle about 2 miles up the trail. Very strenuous but a great view from the top. Quite a few day hikers but by the time you hit the saddle, the crowd thins to almost zero. Pretty nice camp spot with panoramic views. From here we kept hiking around the loop the next day about 8 miles to La Barge Springs. Beautiful area, very green. Plenty of water to drink as well. No human sightings the entire day. The third and last day was 5 miles back to Peralta TH. Finally saw a few people as we approched the TH. This is a great hike for solitude, birds and plant life. I love the Superstions!!! But please don't tell too many people about it.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Dutchmans Loop Hike Photos

Trail Information

Apache Junction
Nearby City
3,330 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
10 hours-2days
Fall through spring
Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Weavers Needle
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018