Cavalry Trail #239 runs from the approximate halfway point of the Dutchman to Boulder Canyon. As both endpoints are out near the center of the western Superstitions, it is out of reach of many day-hikers, but a loop using this trail is possible for those willing to attempt double-digit miles in their day hikes or backpacking treks. Hopefully this report will let you decide whether to march on the Cavalry.
I believe the Cavalry trail is popular with those on horseback as it creates far less difficulty than the boulders in Boulder Canyon for the riders and horses. Indeed, the number of hoof prints I saw was greater than the number of footprints. Remember, hikers yield to horses.
I recommend you do the Cavalry trail in a counterclockwise direction. Primarily, the descent into Boulder Canyon on the Cavalry is rather steep and unless you love climbs, a loop involving another trail will allow you to gain the elevation you need without a struggle.
Near the Dutchman intersection with the Cavalry trail, you may witness some large pools if it has rained recently. Welcome to Marsh Valley! Water from Black Mountain, parts of Peter's Mesa, and eastern parts of Bluff Spring Mountain feed into LaBarge Creek, where, blocked by the massive Peter's Mesa Wall, the flow gets pushed west until it finds its way out Lower LaBarge Box where it later meets with Boulder Canyon as it dumps into Canyon Lake. A look ahead shows that your path is clear.
Cavalry Trail begins by paralleling the creek going north. The sound of the flowing creek (if it has been raining) is pleasant. You may encounter some interesting plants growing near the creek in the beginning. There are numerous campsites in this section you could take advantage of as well. Further on, you will pass by cottonwood trees flourishing in the creek bed.
As you approach the massive Peter's Mesa Wall, the trail will cross the creek to the east side, where it stays for awhile. Where the creek begins to bend west, you will find yourself in Squaw Valley, with the Squaw Canyon Trail approach encouraging extreme adventurers to give it a shot. Interestingly, the Squaw Canyon Trail doesn't attempt to go up the impenetrable-looking Squaw Canyon, but attempts to access Peter's Mesa via a steep failure in the wall further northwest. Keeping the theme of this hike to a pleasant stroll, admire the rugged scenery and continue down the trail on the east/north side of the trail.
Although the trail appears to wander aimlessly here, the trail is actually taking the straightest route away from the twisting creek. You will rejoin the creek slightly further downstream again; so do not worry if you find yourself closer to the massive Peter's Wall than the creek in this section.
As you approach the ship's bow rock formation after rejoining the creek, you will find that you are meandering through an idyllic setting. It's hard to believe you are in the middle of the desert here! Pistol Canyon soon comes into view. Pistol Canyon is named because the Dutch Hunter, Ray Bradford, supposedly lost his Pistol in there in the 20's.
Shortly after Pistol Canyon, you will cross LaBarge Creek for the final time. Pay attention to the scenery and the cairns at this point! Study this picture; this is the place that the Lower LaBarge Box Canyon meets the Cavalry. The Cavalry takes a sharp turn here southwest, away from the creek, and proceeds overland. Unintentionally continuing on downstream, one would find themselves in the beautiful, yet rugged, Lower LaBarge Box, which would make for quite the story, provided you could complete it all.
The trail proceeds southwest for about half a mile, and then curves northwest. It is flat and rather dull in this section. Cairns help where the sparse vegetation could lead you astray from the trail, look for hoof prints failing that, better yet throw away all compasses and use the GPS Route. I remember that I did get slightly off-trail a year ago, so if you find yourself whacking bushes, backtrack to the last point you were on the trail and try a different route. There is a minor ascent towards the end, but it's almost imperceptible.
Finally, you will reach Boulder Canyon. If Boulder Canyon Creek is flowing, you will be amazed at the spectacular scenery. It's pretty awesome even if there is no water. There is an old cattle tank slightly to your north that you could check out when you reach the bottom. You should also be able to make out the bow of Battleship Mountain ahead of you. Once you get down this steep section, take Boulder Canyon Trail (which is on the Cavalry side of the trail at this point) to whatever destination you need to complete your loop.
This trip rates a 1.5 on the bushwhacking scale out of 10. It's not quite nonexistent, but the catclaw is confined to a few brief sections and the horse traffic has beaten the bushes back from the trail better than most other trails in the Supes.
There are stark temperature differences you should plan for. Although about 60 degrees in the beginning, shaded sections remained cool enough in December to keep ice frozen in some pockets.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking 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.
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.
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