Does that thermometer say 75?! I threw together a quick pack and hit the trail by 6am. Without a lot of prep time, my plan was pretty loose. I was familiar with most of the area but had never hiked Second Water or Garden Valley and that was my main focus. I ended up doing this loop a little differently than the route shows. (I posted a map of my route in my photos for the hike.) Starting from the horse lot, a few minutes down the road to the gated trail that goes up and over the hill down to First Water Creek. Going right, I hiked the creek to Second Water, through Garden Valley and back around to First Water taking a different trail back to the horse lot.
Second Water doesn't seem to get a tremendous amount of publicity here, and Garden Valley doesn't seem to be very high on the hit parade, either, so I really wasn't expecting greatness - just happy to be back in the Supes and checking out some new real estate. But, WOW! This hike was beautiful! Second Water is a great trail through some very pretty desert. I can't believe I ignored it for so long. And, as far as flat land goes, Garden Valley was spectacular. Maybe it's the time of year because the vegetation is mature and prime now, not so much in winter, I suppose. Or, maybe just because this huge expanse of level ground is unique out there and looks so incredibly out of place, like a meadow - desert style. But, I was so amazed and impressed I am anxious to go back.
From start to finish, this was a beautiful hike on every level. I ended up going almost 8 miles because I didn't want to go home, so I took a side trip to Hackberry Spring and explored a few other areas, as well. I was out by 11am and it wasn't even 100 degrees yet! Such a great day to hike, worthy of taking a sick day, yet I saw no one in the 5 hours I was there.