Garden Valley Loop
53 Photosets
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Garden Valley Loop, AZ
2011-01-2517 by
page   1   2
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking6.77 Miles   3 Hrs   30 Mns    1.93 mph
337 ft AEG   
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Garden Valley Loop

I decided that it was time to hit the Superstitions again and enjoy a hike and another photo op. My brother is spending the winter in a 5th wheel home in an RV park and enjoys getting out as much as I do so we got our heads together and decided to do the Garden Valley Loop. This would be my first hike back into this area and it seemed like an interesting hike with good scenery and some ancient ruins to perk my interests.

We got to the First Water Trailhead around 9:30 and found the parking lot full and some pretty large hiking groups about to set out. As we prepared our gear, we watched a group of 26 pass right by the sign recommending group sizes no larger than 15. We delayed our start to give that group time to disappear down the trail, then signed the log and headed out. The large group continued on the Dutchman's Trail and we went left at the fork, following the Second Water Trail.

Soon we came upon another large group returning from somewhere and we met at the dry First Water creek. We continued on and another large group, moving quicker than us, came up behind us so we let them pass. I took some time to take a few shots and let them get ahead of us. I really hadn't expected so many people to be on the trails, it just takes something out of the adventure.

We continued on and soon arrived at the Garden Valley plateau. I was surprised at how flat and free of those scattered rocks the area was. It's a rare pleasure to walk in the superstitions without tripping over those pesky rocks. We ascended the only hill in the area to gain a better vantage view and the short climb is well worth the effort. We searched the area hoping to photograph some old pottery shards, but came up empty handed, and signs of early dwellings were hard to determine.

There was a lot to see from the area with Weavers Needle rearing its peak to the South and Four Peaks to the North, while Black Mesa and Battleship Mountain were to our right and the outline of Flat Iron could be seen to our left. How totally impressive is that? When I could finally shut my mouth, we continued on our trek heading North towards Hackberry Mesa. It is along this portion of the trail that we encountered the only steep paths and some parts of the trail had steep drops to the ravine below.

When we reached the 2,200 foot level it flattened out again and we followed a horse trail that bypassed the trail going to Hackberry Spring. We came out at the covered horse corral and there we caught up with the group that had passed us earlier. From there it was just a short hike up the access road and back to the trail head where we packed our gear away and rested up a bit as the other hikers dispersed.

While researching this trip, I read Rick Vincent's report from a year ago and viewed his photos. I was intrigued by the red rocks he found and kept watching for them on this trip, but I either missed them or they're on another leg of the route. Otherwise, it is a good trip, minus the crowds, and trail finding is as easy as following the horse droppings. I logged in 6.77 miles on the GPS (I don't stick to the trails much) and it took us just over 3 hours to complete. I would do the trip again, but find alternate routes that aren't so well known.

Recently Tibber posted some "Artsie" photos along with her photoset. I thought this was a plesant departure from the norm, so I'm posting my version of "Artsie" along with this set. It's called "Aged signs on a bad morning". Hope you like it and maybe Tibber started something new.
On every trip into the Superstitions, I find another Gold Mine. Today the mine was filled with Memories. I can not wait for the next trip.
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198 Photosets
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