If you've ever studied your map of the area around Peralta Trailhead, you'll notice to the east of the popular Cave Trail is Barks Canyon, a seldom-traveled canyon due to the fact that no official trails run through this Canyon. Barks Canyon runs from Barkley Basin almost all the way to Weaver's Needle. The canyon is named after Jim Bark, a rancher whose name turns up in the stories of the Lost Dutchman's gold.
Barks Canyon is accessible from the Dutchman's Trail at the south. There isn't a great way to access it from the north. Perhaps you've been thinking about exploring this canyon. Hopefully this description will help you make your decision, one way or the other.
When the Dutchman's turns from the north to the east as it nears Barkley Basin, descend from the trail into the gravel streambed below. If you are quiet, you may notice that wildlife is more abundant here due to this canyon's isolation. I was lucky to spot two white tailed deer
grazing early in the morning.
Fritzki has already written descriptions for the Lower Barks Canyon, so I will not repeat it. Here is where the route diverges from his Lower and Upper Barks descriptions. After you pass the last series of pools in the lower canyon, you will reach a wide basin and pick up a use trail. If you were to continue west on this trail, you would head back towards Bluff Springs Trail and towards the "Upper Barks Trail". Instead, as soon as you can see Weaver's Needle
, follow the streambed northwest. You will cross the Bluff Springs Trail and join the true Barks Canyon creek. Continue following the creek across from Bluff Springs.
You're now in the actual northern half of Barks Canyon. Soon you will notice a formidable cave to your north I have never seen described here. You can take a 45-minute detour to check it out. If you get close enough you will find it is a large cave, 15 ft high by 40 wide, but is utterly inaccessible as it is high in the smooth cliffs
. It appears to be at least as deep as it is wide. There is a large amount of sugar sumac surrounding the area and some large sycamores on the western slopes. If anyone ever manages to check this cave out send me a picture!
Returning back to Barks creek, continue to follow it northwest. You will pick up a use trail along the northern side of the canyon. Follow it over the first false saddle, beyond which is a decent camping area in a small basin. Continue following it all the way past the small basin to the actual saddle. From here, look back and marvel at the fantastic looking hoodoos
. Notice the numerous boulders that balance on the narrow hoodoos that support them, I counted at least 4. Look forward at Weaver's Needle, it looks larger than you've seen from Fremont saddle. Congratulations, you've just completed Barks Canyon, that wasn't so bad.
From here, you have several options, you can continue northwest and descend to try to catch the Weaver's Crosscut Trail. You could turn back to the Bluff Springs Trail, or, for the truly insane sadists, you can attempt to manuever back to Weaver's overlook.
OK, so you've decided to go back to Weaver's overlook, right? You will climb over the wall of the canyon to your west and descend the steep slope of the adjoining canyon. Be careful going down, it's steep but you should be able to find a good route slightly to your south. Cross the jungle at the bottom of this canyon (it's not bad, really) and proceed southwest over the other side of this canyon.
Descend into the next canyon to your west. This one's not as steep, but frighteningly overgrown. You should be able to find a route through it if you search for a few minutes, you'll only get scraped by a few dozen cat claw bushes, hope you didn't wear your good hiking clothes.
OK, after you access the other side, you'll notice an opening between this canyon and the one further to your southwest. Fight through the jungle, along the north side and when it gets convenient, switch over to the south side. You will only have a short decent into the next canyon.
OK, here's the worst part of the whole trail. This final canyon has the most frighteningly menacing snarls of cat claw you will encounter in the Superstitions. You will turn white with fear and want to run screaming back the way you came. Buck up soldier! Stop that crying! All you have to do now is to cross this jungle of thorns that will rip your remaining clothes to shreds and drain you of a few pints of blood. I found it was easier to actually walk on the cat claw, stepping on the larger branches 2-4 feet above the ground, rather than try to fight through it at ground level. Avoid the areas where it grows above your head.
OK, you made it! If you climb immediately to your west you will come to a scarily steep cliff that gives you a great view of Weaver's Needle.
Proceed south, skirting the edges of the hoodoos to conserve your elevation gain. You will see the lone pine tree on the Weaver's overlook soon. Approach the overlook from the east (the side to your left, since you're heading south.) Notice the interesting rock formation
north of the overlook that can't be seen from above. Ascend halfway up and pass the overlook. You will meet up with the overlook trail at the same place the "Upper Barks Trail" ends. You can take Peralta or the Cave Trail back to your car.
I seriously doubt anyone would want to complete the entire route back to Weaver's overlook, I would recommend you do one of the other alternatives mentioned above. - Jan 20 2007 nonotOne-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