This trail has gained considerable popularity over the years. Cairns may keep you on track if you pay attention. Like the Flatiron & Ridgeline you may be able to complete this trek with less route finding skills than mentioned below.
Route is difficult to follow & potentially dangerous
The popular 4.75mi / 1540aeg loop
described below starts on the Peralta Trail.
Welcome to the most talked about trail, that doesn't exist. Yep, it's the Cave Trail. Several sections are bare rock, which makes it difficult to follow. You need to be familiar with Peralta Canyon and pay attention to your line of travel. If you've hiked the Peralta Trail, you've seen the caves to the east on the yellow ridgeline. Although it's possible in theory, nobody really goes up this trail first attempt. Therefore, you'll need to hike up to Fremont saddle via the Peralta trail in order to come back down, on this, the Cave trail. Once you've mastered coming down the Cave trail, then you can think about going up, but not before!
Start out hiking the Peralta up to Fremont Saddle. On the way up the Peralta Trail, notice the caves up to your right
. From Fremont Saddle take a right, which takes you in a northeast direction. You're heading over to the ridge that extends out to Weavers Needle. It's easy to identify. There is only one pine tree at the end. Arizona Highways loves to photograph
. This is inline with the Cave trail ridge. The cave trail sits on a ridge with Peralta Canyon on the southwest and Barks Canyon on the northeast. To make it easier I'll refer to the ridge as if it runs perfectly north and south.
There is no signage indicating
the turnoff for the Cave Trail. I find it easier to head out on to Weavers
Outlook Ridge. Coming back you're naturally inline with the Cave
Trail. Now onto the Cave Trail. You're hiking on the west side of
the ridgeline that overlooks Peralta Canyon. You should be hiking on a
slanted slab of rock. Within a couple minutes you should be able to
at Fremont Saddle and down into Peralta Canyon. Hike a short
distance to where the ridge drops off. You should be parallel with
. Here the ridge in front of you drops
off and it seems impossible to continue. What you need to do is cross over
to the east side of the ridge that overlooks Barks Canyon. You actually
need to hike back north again. Now you can catch a switchback that will bring
you back to the lower ridge.
You'll encounter an
anvil. Here you have two options. If you take a left, you'll follow
the Barks Canyon side and miss the caves. Either route works, but I'm
explaining the Peralta side here. So take a right, it's more
exciting. Soon you'll see
two shallow caves
At first you'll be thinking these look awfully tiny. They are, and they aren't
the caves you see from the Peralta Trail. Hike down and in front of the
shallow caves. The trail appears to end abruptly. You're either
looking down into Peralta Canyon or looking up a very steep rock face.
Believe it or not you need to climb up this rock face. It really isn't
that difficult. But,
looking back down
impossible to return. So basically, you're committed to continue.
Also looking straight back, you'll notice you're
with the shallow caves
. Many years ago, on my first trip, I didn't
think this was possible. I ended up taking the Barks Canyon route.
It is possible. Just make sure you take the right
Keep hiking south along the
ridge to the caves. Along the way you'll need to switchback in order to
gain elevation. There is no distinctive trail. Cairns usually help
lead the way. It's unlikely you'd ever take the exact same approach.
You can't wonder off to far without jumping off into Peralta Canyon, so don't
worry about getting lost. You come to the caves, which are really medium
The first is unimpressive
The next two step up consecutively. There is a heap of gold back in the
corner. Just kidding, these aren't very impressive either. The trail
is really more about scrambling and route finding then the actual caves
Now past the caves, you come
. Looking down and out things
begin to seem a little scary. Now would be a good time to write a
will. Fold it into a paper airplane and launch it towards the
trailhead. Well that won't work. The forest rangers tell you to pack
out whatever you pack in. So, lets get you're carcass outta here and head
on down. It's important to find the right gully, which is called the
. In all honesty the Devils Slide isn't the bad part. So
. Soon you'll be at the
Now you have a reason to be scared. The fact that climbers have bolted
here gives you an idea of the pitch. You need to go over the edge.
Basically you'll be hiking on your butt. So get on your butt and shimmy on
down. Avoid the loose cracked surface, which I call chip plates.
Your body has four points of contact, your hands and feet. Make sure you
have a secure footing or grip before proceeding. This area here is a good
reason to never do this hike when it's wet or raining. Teva sandals work
best on this surface in my opinion. It's really no worse than playing
around on the Papago Buttes in Phoenix. Well, with the exception you're
out in the middle of nowhere! I got a leg cramp mid way down.
Luckily, I survived.
Continuing down you'll see a
little section of trail. In the distance you can see your next
. You need to go
through a small valley to get there. The idea is to make it the right side
of Cathedral Rock. The key is to follow the trail to
Rock & the Four Saguaros
. Go down on the right side of
, just to the right of the century plant. Continue down into the
valley. You come to a point, at the bottom, where you almost drop into
Peralta Canyon. Countless cairns on a boulder let you know to turn and
head back up. Next, work your way up to
side of Cathedral Rock
Fortress and see what you've accomplished. Now, pass through
small maze of boulders
going around Cathedral Rock. When you come out
of the maze,
to your left for an awesome
view. I noticed climbers have recently bolted to this wall. Keep in
mind it's illegal to bolt in the Superstitions.
Past Cathedral Rock things
start looking easier. You'll be hiking away from Peralta Canyon.
Miners Needle can be seen in the distance. At one instance you can see the
parking lot in the distance. It's still a good half hour away. The
trail, although not maintained, is fairly obvious. There is one last hurrah
through a low lying boulder field. It seems like it would be much more
difficult to follow this area going in the opposite direction. Life seems
good when you hook up with the Bluff Springs Trail #235.
, for those that wish to run the trail in opposite
direction. Its 0.7 miles, about twenty minutes, back to the trailhead. - Jan 05 2001 joe bartelsOne-Way Notice:
This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example