register help

Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions, AZ

no permit
363 25 2
Guide 25 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
4 of 5 by 11
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 17 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2 feet
Elevation Gain 1,600 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,000 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 36 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 37
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
20  2017-01-28 jacobemerick
15  2016-01-16
Bluff Springs Mountain
14  2012-10-27 John9L
13  2012-10-27
Bluff Spr Mtn & Hidden Valley
37  2012-04-15 WilliamnWendi
28  2012-02-18
BTM BSM Hidden Valley Loop Hell
10  2012-02-18
BTM BSM Hidden Valley Loop Hell
6  2012-02-12 Tough_Boots
Page 1,  2,  3
Author kanode
author avatar Guides 7
Routes 57
Photos 1,107
Trips 64 map ( 519 miles )
Age 71 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:07am - 6:35pm
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Bring your swimsuit
by kanode

This was a two day backpacking trip into Hidden Valley as described by Jack Carlson as Trip 14 in Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness.

The hike starts at the Peralta trailhead and takes the Bluff Springs trail to near it's end at the Dutchman's trail. It then climbs the SE corner of Bluff Spring Mountain on the Ely Anderson trail and then drops down into Hidden Valley. We didn't complete the loop that Carlson describes but did visit the East, West, and North-West overlooks of Bluff Springs Mountain. Our hike was 17.2 miles with an accumulated gain of 4116 feet. Both numbers are slightly higher than the loop that Carlson describes due to the back and forth nature of our exploratory trips from camp.

The drop into the valley from the Ely Anderson trail does not go through point FF on Carlson's Map 5. Point FF is at the edge of a cliff and there is a cairned route (but no path) that cuts NW 300 feet in elevation below the cliff. The cairns end with a large one 1000 feet NW of point FF. From that point it's a light bushwhack due north down to the creek. It's possible to avoid most of the catclaw by heading from one area of solid rock to the next.

There are two camping areas at the south end of the valley. The first one is 500 feet north of point PP on the east side of the wash. The metal chair described by Carlson is still there. This area is flat, open and uninteresting. It's advantage is that is located near the path to both the eastern and western overlooks. The second camping area is another 500 feet north on the west bank--just south of where Bluff Spring Mountain spring is shown on maps. This area is more interesting because the canyon walls are closer and the bushes are somewhat larger. We camped at this second spot. Considering how infrequently Hidden Valley is visited, there's a surprising amount of trash at the camping area and elsewhere: freeze dried food bags, old tin cans, beer cans, water jugs, etc.

My first trip from camp was up to the West overlook following Carlson's route. There's a good view across to Weaver's Needle. I think I got too high on the slope of the 3999 peak trying to avoid the area that Carlson warns is "loose and the footing is not good" and turned back. Shortly after turning back I found a cairn at: N33.44402 W111.35827. This cairn is the end point on the posted GPS track. There's some knee-high catclaw on the lower slopes but most of it can be avoided.

The next trip from camp was up to the East overlook (Carlson's point QQ). The GPS route shown is the route I used on the return trip. It's on the south side of the drainage while Carlson's route seemed to be up the north side. I couldn't find a good route through the catclaw on the north side. There are fantastic views down and east from this overlook.

The next trip from camp was north along the creek and then west to near Carlson's point RR. I could find no sign of Bluff Spring Mountain Spring--although the vegetation is heavier in this area. Carlson describes portions of this segment as some of the "roughest cross-country trekking in the Wilderness". It wasn't that bad although there were spots on the NW segment with pickup-truck sized boulders that took some scouting to find the easiest way over or around. There's knee high catclaw but little I'd call a thicket that can't be avoided. (I wouldn't want to try this segment with a heavy pack.) The first 500 feet headed north from camp we generally stayed in the creek bed. From there to the turn west we generally stayed east of the creek near the cliffs. There were several nice camp sites just south of the turn. Once we turned NW we ran into larger boulders. Sometimes we climbed over and through the boulders and sometimes we were just off to either side. Most often we seemed to be on the north side. About a thousand feet SE of Carlson's point RR we were surprised to find two areas with cattails and water in rock basins. It hadn't rained in months except for a quarter inch the week before. The cattails seem to indicate at least enough water year round to keep the soil moist.

We turned around near the NW overlook, broke camp and headed home

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2007-12-14 kanode
  • guide related image
    guide related
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 17 deeper Triplog Reviews
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Bluff Springs Mountain
Just before I left work on Friday, I told a coworker that I was going hiking in a valley on top of a mountain. He nodded, then did a "Wait, what?!" I hiked up here once before, but it was overcast and very windy that day. The weather was expected to be much more accommodating today. I had high hopes for a great all day adventure, until my wife told me were meeting friends for an early dinner. I shortened the hike to an out and back to the location of the old Al Reser camp. That turned out to be good enough.

Before going up the mountain on Ely-Anderson, I decided to go to Bluff Spring to check flows. Oddly enough, it was just a trickle when water was plentiful in every creek I passed today. Once on the mountain, I didn't look for routes. I pretty much knew where I was going based on landmarks, so I just picked my poison out and back. I went first to topo point 4041 for a view down into the valley, then continued north from there, angling towards the point where the canyon narrows, eventually arriving at the approximate location of Al Reser's camp.

I took a break there and contemplated a different route back, heading SW towards the summit following a route that other HAZers have taken. That was not the best choice for me. It was a long, uphill bushwhack that wore me out and used up more time than I had budgeted. At the point where I needed to take a steeper angle to reach the summit, I decided to stay on a line towards the saddle and make my way back to the Ely-Anderson trail. Time to end this hike.

The hike out to Reser's camp was enjoyable. The bushwhack out of the valley was difficult and made the rest of the hike somewhat less enjoyable. I do want to come back for more of Hidden Valley when I have time and the days are a little longer.
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Bluff Spr Mtn & Hidden Valley
Took pretty much the same route as last time except John came along!

We made the Bluff Spring Mtn summit pretty easily. There are great views up there. Then we bushwacked down to Hidden Valley and on to the the waterfall at the end. It wasn't flowing but there was a huge pool of water and some other smaller filterable pools along the way. Hidden Valley is just as beautiful and challenging as ever. We saw deer in Hidden Valley and along the Bluff Springs trail. I've done Hidden Valley three times now and have seen deer every time. Also, if you're afraid of bees-- don't do this right now. You will hike through swarms and swarms. They are not aggressive, though-- no stings!
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Kyle wanted to get back out to Hidden Valley and I was happy to join him. This would be my first trip to Bluff Springs Mountain & Hidden Valley.

We started our hike around 8am and cruised up Bluff Springs Trail. We found ourselves at the Ely Anderson trail and started making our way up. This is a good route and the trail is fairly easy to follow. After some effort we reached the rock wall and then things leveled off. From here we hiked cross country towards Bluff Springs Mountain Summit. The cactus and shrubbery were piercing directly through my shoes. I decided I'm getting a good pair of boots!

Reaching the summit was fairly easy. We found Tortise Hiker in the summit register. After that we bushwhacked down into Hidden Valley. Some of it was a pain but we made it down relatively quickly. Once in Hidden Valley we picked up the wash and followed that north. The going was slow and difficult at times as we made our way down the wash. After considerable effort we reached the waterfall at the end. It was lunch time!

After eating we started the return hike. I was surprised at how quickly we made our way back. Your speed is limited because you need to do lots of scrambling and your constantly avoiding trees and shrubbery. Being that it was our second time through, we had a good feel for the path of least resistance. We got back to the folding chair and continued south. We took an alternate route up and out of the valley. It was more direct and we even found a cairned route that returned us right to the Ely Anderson trail. From there it was a fairly quick return to the car at Peralta.

This is a solid yet difficult hike. All the bush whacking makes things difficult. You will definitely use all your route finding skills as well. I also would have liked to have another liter of water. I started with 4.5 liters. Give this route a try if your up for a serious challenge and want to visit an area few see. We did not see a soul once we got away from the trailhead.
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Hoping that the Supes got all the rain that we didn't get in our area we headed out early primed to hit the trails at 8:00 but we lost a 1/2 to a wreck that closed down the 101's off ramp to the 60. That and the fact that we probably should have left an hour earlier left us not finishing what was supposed to be the out and back version of this hike. We did make it the top of the highest ridge on the east side of the Hidden Valley and had great view overlooking it and the surrounding area. From here we surprised 2 whitetail on the bench just 20' below. They must of thought they were running from a rifle because we watched them run down our slope, 1/2 way up the next hill crossing over to the next mountain and around that. I would guess at least a mile before they were completely out of sight. Never could get them in the viewfinder long enough to get in them in focus so I gave up.

We also sighted a new bird, mostly yellow with black here and there, probably the size of cardinal. Had a strange arch in the way it flew. Kind of three thrusts of the wing into a 20'ft long arch, repeating this as it flew around. We also witnessed two small birds and a chipmunk having a disagreement over what was must be a prime piece of real estate, the birds one so I managed to get a picture of them sunning on their hard won rock.

Met up with a family as we headed back, just as we were about to ascend out of Barks Canyon. The dad wanted to know how far it was to Weaver's Needle. This concerned me because of the time which was 4:00 pm, the mother was hand carrying at most 2 month old baby, and they didn't necessarily look prepared to hike out at night. I told them it was my best guess that it was at least 3 miles, but that I had never hiked the Terrapin. I used my best "Don't do it" voice. The dad seemed determined though, so I was happy to see them coming down Heart-attack from the parking lot.

The Supes by the way looked pretty dry, by the way. I am not sure who got the rain that was predicted.
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
BTM BSM Hidden Valley Loop Hell
This was supposed to be an easy day with only 22 miles, well groomed trails, and gentle ups and downs in preparation for a longer one next week. I put together a Supes loop which would also get us up by Charlebois again, to find the Master Map of the Supes that we failed to find last week. Joe was in, but asked to add a little 2 mile round trip, an exploratory mission. Not one to pass up a bit of adventure, I said sure, without really looking at it. (Not that that would have changed things)

We started out at the First Water TH at first light, knowing that this week we'd be back before dark. We knew that the "itching with a B and Moaning" would probably be at an all time high on this hike, since, between the two of us, we were running on a total of 3 hours sleep. We passed a few groups of Back Packers on our way to our first stop on top of Black Top Mesa. The views were just gorgeous up there. We spent a little time searching the South end of the Mesa for the petroglyphs. We found a Sun, Snake, a couple of names from the early 1900's, and some pictures we could not Id.

Next, we were off for our little 2 mile detour. The first mistake we made was to get on the Lost Black Top Mesa Trail (Thanks nonot fo the description) instead of getting on the continuation of Bull Pass. This actually was a pretty nice trail that got us to our "Side Trip" quicker. On the way, I saw off in the distance what looked to be part of an old rusty car. As we got closer, it was actually a dead horse. It didn't look like it'd been there all to long :o

So now we start our "Side Trip". The mission, enter the drainage at the North end of Bluff Mountain, climb to the base of the Water Falls, find the ropes, climb said ropes to the top of the Mountain, go over to the top of the falls, take a few pictures, and return. On the Map, about a mile one way and 700' in elevation change. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to make it to the falls. :tt:

We ate our lunch here and both decided we did not want to go back down what we'd just come up. so now it's time for a change in hike plans. We ended up hiking to the other end of Bluff Mountain (The opposite direction of our TH) and met back up with the Dutchman at the Ely-Anderson intersection.

From here it was the Dutchman, off past Charlebois (With a stop, finding the Master Map!!), and back to where we'd started our "Side Trip" some 12 miles and almost 9 hours previous at Bluff Pass.

At this point it was time to just get his friggin' hike done. We marched at Zombie warp speed and made it back to the truck just a few minutes short of 9pm.

The hike looked very little like what was planned, but as always with Joe Joe, and adventure.

Thanks Joe for...........
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
BTM BSM Hidden Valley Loop Hell
24 mile hike shocks and destroys weak ego

6:40am - head to Black Top Mesa (BTM)
9:30am - Bruce found sunburst and oro on BTM
10:30am - off trail to summit BSM Aguafall
12:20pm - ropes
12:50pm - BSM Aguafall
3:26pm - crest high point before heading down Ely-Anderson
4:10pm - halfway point - finish EA, chat with scout troop that cached water in cactus
5:30pm - Master Map found after 8-9 attempts
7:00pm - Bull Pass - no headlamp - luckily Bruce lent me keychain led powered by watch battery
7:54pm - Parker Pass - hallucinations
8:56pm - hike over, full body pain

lessons learned: unknown
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Had the pleasure of hiking with two HAZers RachelT and Dave1 whom I hadn't hiked with before. Nice meeting both of you. The hike up to Bluff Springs Mountain was nice. The bushwhacking/boulder hopping began thereafter. Once we reached Hidden Valley and the waterfall, we had lunch and decided to check out "the rope". Oddly enough, only Dave and I actually looked at bypassing the falls where the rope is located. Everyone else decided to go back the way we came in. The down climb wasn't as bad as it looked from the falls. It can be done without the aid of a rope. After reaching the creek bed again, Dave and I had another stretch of navigating the steep wash full of huge boulders. Soon we reached the Dutchman trail and took it to the Terrapin, up the steep grade and down to the intersection with the Bluff Springs trail. Dave and I had to race with Wally and Joe to see who could get there first! All four of us hiked back together to the Peralta trailhead. I was forced to lead so I put it into Wally mode and set a quick pace. We passed by two groups on the way back. The first group laughed at us and told us we were going too slow, pick up the pace. The second group said, you sure are going fast. I said, they are chasing us! They replied, I don't think they'll catch you! Fun hike with a fun group. Thanks all. Thanks Kyle for setting this one up.
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
BSM Hidden Valley Waterfall - Out-n-Back
Tagged onto Kyle's hike at the last opportunity. I was weary of my condition yesterday then started feeling great.

The hike up Ely-Anderson in the morning light was awesome. The sun was lighting up the lichen covered path most of the way up. On a previous BSM summit I ascended almost a half mile west. The group ascended quicker than I was anticipating yet I held on.

Up top we headed over and nabbed 4152. The weather was nice and cool for our ascent all the way without being cold. After a break we headed north and down the ridge. This was to avoid thickets of cats claw according to the boy wonder. After a short 600ft follow-of-the-ridge it was off and straight down into the valley below to the right/east. The descent had Mother Lode moves on the top and turned into a chaparral maze further down.

We cruised the creek down to the waterfall drop off on the north-northwest end. The second spectacular moment occurred in this stretch. The views down canyon across terraced pools with Malapais standing proud in the distance were five star.

At the drop off waterfall dead end we took in the awesome balcony views. We lunched then contemplated our options. The boy wonder and the number one stunner hit a down climb that was reported to be anywhere from 6 to 100 feet. The sane opted for a retrace and some extra elevation. Not wanting to rush Kyle and Rachel we thanked them for this sweet hike then parted ways.

Wally torqued the pace and I was praying while trying to hold tempo. What I "thought" would take much longer to return back "up" netted a little more than the descent with a direct route. Along the way we found "the chair", rejoiced and moved on. We lucked out and found a cairned route too. Looking at my nonot route layer I confirmed we were on a Kanode line-of-travel for a stretch.

All ready to rejoice at the top I found out the ceremony was canceled. Jonny Mogul Moseley was determined to teach me the "Diner Roll" among other lichen ridge moves. Down and back on the 235 I was happy to be traveling a flat maintained trail. Near the Terrapin junction Wally spotted the twin thin mints. A childhood flashback to being a young boy consumed Wally as he flipped on the sprint switch like I've never seen. After a short ten second dual it turned out our route was 4 seconds

On route back to the trailhead I was out of my class. The final mile went down in about ten minutes flat. My body doesn't know that song so I let my conscious go and used the force instead to barely hang on to the tail of the jet pack.

Thanks to Kyle for putting this one together and thanks to Wally for driving. I had a great time throughout. It was great to see everyone which is the main reason I wanted to go.
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
I've been meaning to get back on Bluff Spring Mountain to tour Hidden Valley so when Kyle posted the hike the door was open. We met at the Peralta TH at 6a and started hiking by the moonlight. Yes we had headlamps but soon realized it was easy to hike without them. The pace was good and soon enough we were looking for the Ely-Anderson trail. The Ely-Anderson was easy to follow but we rested a few times to keep the group together. Once on the top we saw the old rock wall that I seemed to always pass by without noticing. The group decided to go up to Bluff Spring Summit first and we took a short break to take in the views. Next we went north on the ridge to a saddle and hiked down into Hidden Valley. The brush is thick in spots but we avoided it by sticking to the wash bed. We saw the old stone wall(dam?) across the wash on the way in stop there to check it out. At about 10:30a we were at the waterfall at the north end. We took turns looking over the edge and at the view of Malapais Mtn and Four Peaks. we stopped to eat and about 11a Dave & John decided to take Dave's bail route around the waterfall. Joe, Kyle Rachel and I really wanted to see the chair we missed on the way in and decided to return via Hidden Valley. Joe and I were moving a good pace and we waited for the others and asked if they wanted us to wait or keep going. Kyle and Rachel set us free and we said our good byes and moved on. We made good time on the Hidden Valley exit even though it was uphill. We found the coveted chair and even found a water cache left by the boy scouts on the way back. Once back on Bluff Spring trail we wondered how far ahead Dave & John were by now. About 200 feet from the Terrapin/Bluff Spring intersection we saw them and immediately started racing to the sign post like it was the finish line. The four of us hiked out from there but John was setting the pace so we got back to the TH in about 45 minutes finishing just after 2p. :sweat: Thanks for setting this up Kyle.
Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
This turned out to be a great hike. We started just after 6am and quickly made it to the Ely Anderson trail. From there we decided to hit the Bluff Spring Mountain summit and then descend into Hidden Valley from there. The route we took down from Bluff Spring Mtn was a little hairy but not too bad. We made it to Hidden Valley and scrambled all the way to the end. At that point, the return route was to be decided. Dave wanted to try his rotten piece of rope out there again and John seemed to be game. The rest of us were not into that idea so we backtracked until we could pop out of Hidden Valley and traverse off-trail to the Ely Anderson. Joe and Wally are insanely fast and they took off ahead after saying their goodbyes. Rachel and I took our time and made it out. Rachel even made friends with a gila monster on the way. We made it back to the trailhead at 3:45. We figured we made pretty good time considering the last time we did Hidden Valley we didn't finish until 9pm and we added a summit this time :D It was awesome hiking with everyone again!

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Peralta Trailhead
7.6 miles east of the junction Idaho Rd / US-60. Turn Left on to FS77 which is Peralta Road. Follow FS77 5.6 miles to a left and up turnoff. Continue 1.9 miles to Peralta Trailhead.

The trailhead has restrooms minus running water. The parking lot is huge. It does fill up in season on weekends. Since there are no lines the rangers ask that you park straight between the posts in the main lot. Please do your part with this simple request and make room for the next guy. 0.5 miles before reaching the trailhead is an overflow lot which is also suited for horse trailer parking.

From PHX (Jct I-10 & AZ-51) 45.2 mi - about 1 hour 8 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 97.0 mi - about 2 hours 16 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 192 mi - about 3 hours 15 mins
help comment issue

end of page marker