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Second Water - Black Mesa cut Loop, AZ

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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 9.33 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,288 feet
Elevation Gain 462 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,338 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.02
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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10  2019-11-03 jamminaz
22  2016-01-29
LaBarge Box Canyon Lasso
26  2014-02-01
Nightmare in the Superstitions Revisited
12  2013-03-23
Black Mesa Loop - Superstition Mtns
26  2010-03-10
Boulder Canyon Loop from First Water TH
Pathfinder Aaron
40  2009-02-01 AZLOT69
9  2007-12-30 woarnoart
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 4
Photos 87
Trips 31 map ( 278 miles )
Age 54 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Phoenix Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:16am - 6:19pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2020 Superstition Fire9.6k

Second to None
by woarnoart

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This hike is a variation on the two alternate routes for Second Water Spring in Carlson's Hiker's Guide to the Superstitions. The hike has something for everyone: trails, cross country hiking, bouldering in a canyon, and finally rock hopping in a creek. I would strongly suggest not to do the hike without a map or at least a GPS.

The hike starts at the First Water Trailhead. After 0.33 miles there is a sign at the junction of Second Water and the Dutchman Trail. Follow the Second Water Trail #236. Shortly after the junction, you will cross First Water Creek.

Keep following the trail till you are at a second junction marker in Garden Valley. At this junction follow the Black Mesa Trail #241. The trail climbs steadily but isn't too hard.

Once you are at the top of the mesa go left (north-east) through the Chollas. This is the part where you are happy to wear long pants. There isn't a set trail or cairns here. Just try to aim for the entry of the canyon (N33.48827 W111.40120). To reach this you have to climb two small hills that are scattered with black rocks. Again this isn't too hard. Once you're on top of the second hill you can see the entry of the canyon.

The small canyon has plenty of pools (I did the hike in December) and is an excellent spot to have lunch. Just follow the canyon and eventually you'll arrive at the Boulder Canyon/Trail (N33.49109 W111.39995). Follow the Boulder Trail in the North-Western direction. The trail is cairned in most places. If you lose the cairns, don't despair, just follow the creek.

Eventually, you will arrive at the junction of the Boulder and the Second Water Trails (N33.49907 W111.40608). You can see the junction marker on the bank of the creek.

Follow the Second Water Trail. The trail will steadily climb till you arrive again at Garden Valley. Just continue to follow the trail back to the trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2007-12-31 woarnoart
    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.

    Permit $$

    Paved - Car Okay

    To First Water Trailhead
    From Mesa follow Highway 60 East to Idaho Road. Turn North onto Idaho Road which is SR88 and follow North 2.2 miles. SR88 bends right just past Scenic St. and Idaho continues North. Be sure to go right and stay on SR88. Follow SR88 5.2 miles to the signed turnoff for First Water Trailhead, this is FR-78. Turn right on to FR-78 and follow 2.6 miles to the end.

    This trailhead feature restrooms without running water. The large parking area fills up in season. When full utilize the Horse Lot 0.5 miles back.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 43.1 mi - about 59 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 136 mi - about 2 hours 16 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 187 mi - about 3 hours 3 mins

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