register help

First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop, AZ

no permit
201 18 0
Guide 18 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.2 of 5 by 5
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,288 feet
Elevation Gain 485 feet
Accumulated Gain 815 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.33
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
18  2019-01-26
Massacre Grounds Loop
6  2017-04-15 paulholland
9  2017-03-27 gummo
89  2017-03-25
Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
9  2017-03-25
Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
5  2017-01-17 AZLumberjack
8  2015-12-06
Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
29  2015-02-13
Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
Page 1,  2
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Curious Country
by HAZ_Hikebot

Author Full Detail Guide

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

    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 Triplog Reviews
    First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wendy was in town and I had no one to play with so she obliged. From a hike earlier in the week she had witnessed some big storms passing over the Supes so she got waterfalls on her mind. Well the Supes don't have a lot of accessible water falls for me except thru pics (i.e. Reavis Falls) so we went thru several alternate ideas before she chose this one. She didn't want to face the throngs of people on the trails so this fit her bill.
    There wasn't a lot of beta on this hike but I put together all the other routes should we decide to deviate along the way. Let's just say the first third of the hike was amAZing and we had a great time on our way to Massacre Grounds. The middle third of the hike was certainly NOT a walk in the park let alone open desert. And the last third on the tributaries would have been fine if we hadn't just come thru the middle third :pout:

    So we started from the Horse Lot and from the Dutchman Trail took the first turn west into First Water Tributary 2947 (maybe should have done that Loop). We were delighted to see water right away. And water most of the rest of the way until we left the Tributary. There were lots of bedrock areas too and of course the flora was putting on a show. I can't tell you how delightfully surprised we were to be hiking in this tributary. The Brittlebush on the hillsides was nice along with the various rock formations. And believe it or not, two gals happened to catch and pass us. They were the only folks we would see until we got to the Massacre Falls Trail and after Massacre Grounds to Dutchman Trail.

    We took a short break in the shade by one of the many pools of water we had seen already. We were near the mouth of this canyon where the water dried up a bit and the going got a little tougher. We did see a trail go off to the left but it didn't seem like it was going the direction we wanted so we continued in the drainage for a while and we saw another trail go off to the left. I figured it was the horse trail as it would be hard for horses to walk up this tributary in places. We found the other side of that trail that headed west and decided since the drainage was being much more difficult we would use the trail. THAT was the right decision and I encourage others to do this instead of following the official route.

    We slinked around and toward Massacre Falls trail and sure enough we saw quite a few more people here. We had lunch on top of the Grounds and enjoyed our view far and wide. There was a lot of gold in them thar hills too. Little did we know, this would be the end of our joy today. So we followed the trail toward Massacre Falls before we came to our left hand turn on what looked like a trail; it ended pretty abruptly. We contoured for awhile and were worried about cliffing out as we needed to get across a deep drainage. However, cliffing out would NOT have been an issue and we should have continued and then crossed more where the route did that we were following. Once we got across we had to go thru so much brush to get to a somewhat clearer area to hike.

    I would say if you are going to follow the official route from Massacre Grounds, stick very close to it if you can; and that isn't easy but it does look a little clearer than what we did based on the satellite photo. A little ways later we hooked back on to the official route and pretty much stuck to it. We still hit many walls of trees, brush or cactus that we would have to wander a bit to find the path of least resistance. I felt like we were "wallyfracking" there for a bit. I don't know how he does that without wearing out much sooner.

    All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't hot as this cross desert trek wasn't easy; especially when we had to push thru brush uphill : rambo : . And of course, it is snake season so Wendy managed to scare up two rattlers. One was rather docile and stayed under a bush while the other one we would find, just before dipping into a drainage, went on and on. It decided to slither down where we were going so we had a little detour.

    Once into the drainage we took a much needed break. We wondered what open desert really meant because this didn't feel like it. Now mind you, I told Wendy I didn't think we'd be out more than 4 hours. It was now 3PM, we started a little after 8:30. Well it took us four hours just to top out at Massacre Grounds via the Tributary. OOPS! And we still have 4 miles to go with 3 of those miles thru these two drainages/tributaries. So off we went; rather glad to be in the tributary and out of the so-called open desert. The drainage/tributaries had its challenges too with all the water, the downclimbs, the filling up with bushes and such but it had its open times where you could breath normally for about 5 minutes.

    This side didn't have as much water as the first tributary but there was one section where the pools were deep and big. Getting around them caused us to have to figure out the best route and sometimes we both would do it differently. I tried to film as much as possible but there was a lot of time the camera stayed tucked away. We finally arrived at the First Water Falls [ photo ] I had last been to with snakemarks back in 2009. It was dry and the little pool had very little water in it. I knew we would run into some catclaw as we made it back toward the Dutchman Trail but it wasn't too bad. And then as we got closer to the Dutchman we had to negotiate a lot more water so we veered right. Soon enough we finally hit the trail; it felt so good!

    We ran into two snake hunters near the junction with First Water. They had seen gila monsters earlier in the day. We finally made it back to Tonto Jr and then went and had dinner on the patio at Mammoth SteakHouse. Thx to Wendy for leading us through that; it made it easier for me so I didn't have to think as much. For example, she said to me when we were in the middle of this trying to guesstimate where we needed to go further ahead, "See that saguaro out there"... I did; it was pretty far away. A little while later I asked Wendy, "where is that saguaro". She hesitated and I looked next to me and there it was ](*,) :lol: .

    Yep, the Supes proved their might once again but once again, we survived, altho our bruised and punctured legs might beg otherwise. (We were wearing pants.) Film at 11.

    4-28-2017 Enjoy!
    Part 1 - Horse Lot to starting up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
    Part 2 - hiking in the Tributary [ youtube video ]
    Part 3 - yep, still going up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
    Part 4 - finishing off the Tributary to the horse trail [ youtube video ]
    Part 5 - up to Massacre Grounds and behind [ youtube video ]
    Part 6 - back of Massacre to HooDoo Land [ youtube video ] and it twasn't easy
    Part 7 - to Upper First Water Creek [ youtube video ]
    Part 8 - First Water Creek hiking continued [ youtube video ]
    Part 9 - finishing off the creek and back to the TH [ youtube video ]
    First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    First Water Trailhead to Parker Pass and return

    With lots of rainy weather predicted for the rest of the week, I decided that today should be a good day to get out into the Superstitions for a quick day hike. After several months, I'm still nursing a sore right foot, so I just opted to head out to Parker Pass and return. The trails are in good condition although there are several spots with standing water to be found and getting around them was not a problem, only a little mud on the shoes that quickly wore off. First Water Creek is running again for the first time in a long time and it's almost sensual overload to hear the water splashing over the rocks just a few feet below the trail. The recent rainy spell has turned the desert green again, it looks and feels surreal to hike down the trails through lush undergrowth after such a long dry spell.

    It was downright chilly at the 0730 start time so I was glad to have the layers but I had to remove then when I arrived at Parker Pass. The sun was now shining brightly and the sky was clear so I took a break to pack the layers away. My early start time gave me a nearly empty parking lot and I had the trail all to myself until I was almost back to following the creek again, then it was hikers, dogs, horses and noise.
    First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    It's a chilly morning with on-and-off periods of light rain as I begin my Forest Service duties at First Water TH. After picking up any debris from the parking lot, I begin to get a few hikers straggling into the lot. One guy with a camera heads down the trail to photograph the low clouds and running water, so I headed up the hills alongside the trail.

    As I reached the top of one of the hills, the sun is trying to burn through the bank of clouds hanging low over the Goldfield Mountains while the Superstition Ridgeline is socked in solid. After a few choice shots, I moved to the hilltop on the other side of the trail to capture some views of the First Water Creek alongside the old Barkley Ranch site and then a few more back towards Hackberry Butte.

    Dodging the occasional rain squalls, I headed down the trail and before long I could hear a waterfall close by. I followed the sounds and soon I found a small stream pouring out of an obscure canyon, flowing over lichen covered boulders and pouring into a small pool a few feet below, a really cool treat to the senses.

    A little further down the Second Water Trail, I came to the crossing for First Water Creek which was flowing nicely from bank to bank. Even the boulders had water flowing over them making a crossing a wet feet situation, so I walked up and down the stream until I found a suitable location to shoot the fast moving water.

    With that done, I headed back to the trailhead to get my camera out of the rain that had now become heavier. A fun way to spend the day, working the trailhead and taking pictures of water flowing in the Superstitions :)
    First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Nice day for a short walk in the Supes, so I parked at the First Water TH and hiked down the trail past the old Barkley Ranch site, then went off trail. I bushwhacked around the hills and came out on the tributary close to the Garden Valley Trail.

    I followed the tributary down past the 2364 peak then followed the old barbed wire fence line back to the trailhead. Not a very exciting hike but as I returned to the trailhead, there was a helicopter parked on the landing pad, so I asked the pilot if there was a problem in the Wilderness.

    He told me that the problem was with the Helicopter's instruments and help had been summoned and should be here shortly. He turned down my offer to fix it with my Gerber multi-tool so we just exchanged conversation for a bit then I went on to my truck. Yep, nice day for a walk in the Superstitions. :)
    First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Started out with intentions of doing the loop as shown on the map. We were going to do a Clockwise direction so we were able to identified the trail and canyon where we would be rejoining the Dutchman's Trail. As we continued along the well worn path, we approached the place where we should exit and begin the loop into the canyon. The trail was non-existent and overgrown with brush and catsclaw. Since it was a warm morning and we had already stripped down to our t-shirts, the catsclaw didn't look inviting enough to challenge the loop and we opted to continue along the Dutchman's Trail.

    There were several hikers and horse riders out already so it became kinda crowded out on the trails (to say nothing of the horse do-do we had to contend with) :o We reached a scenic overlook that provided excellent views of Weavers Needle off in the distance and Black Mesa just off to our left. We took a short break here and wondered about the three "Dutch Hunters" from Utah who perished just a short distance away from this very spot.

    As we began our return, we were soon overtaken by a hiker with a large overnight pack. We talked with him and found out that he had been bound for Albuquerque via the Escalante Trail, but was being forced to quit after only 17 miles because there was so little water to be found so soon into the journey. We bid him well and he was soon out of sight heading towards First Water Trailhead.

    When we finally arrived at the trailhead, there was our hiker sitting in the shade of the entrance sign looking for a ride back towards Apache Junction. We had enough room for another rider so we obliged and took him to the Blueberry Mine Store, a favorite cooling off place of ours. Once there, we had a couple of "cold ones" and struck up some conversation with a couple of the locals sitting on well worn couches under the shade canopy. The hiker was able to make phone contact with an acquaintance who was to meet him at the store and take him into Phoenix.

    Just goes to prove that there's never a dull day in the Superstitions. If the scenery doesn't blow you away, the characters you meet surely will :sl: But we still have to plan on completing the Loop some day soon.
    First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Just did a simple out & Back along the Dutchman's Trail to see how the trail conditions are. No water, minimal flowers, lots of birds. It looked like some rain hitting the ground around Battleship Mtn. and I caught a couple of dozen drops.

    Ran into several groups of hikers on their way out, one group counted out at 25 heads (sure glad they can read the signs). And here, with the weather, I thought I might be all alone out here. Go Figure. Still a good day to get out, gotta do the rest of the tributaries loop soon.

    Water, we need water. :(
    First Water Tributaries 2947 Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This area has piqued my interest many times. Today I just gave it a shot.

    From the First Water Trailhead. Out on the Dutchman #104 and took a right on the first flowing creek. Believe most think they are crossing First Water Creek, however this tributary runs almost as hardy. The tributary follows a nice slithering canyon for about a mile and a half. It's pretty easy going with minimal bush contact. As it levels out and opens up you can peek over at the Massacre Ramp. This is a pretty cool area too in that it just feels untouched. The good times give to bushwhacking through the creek. I cut over the ridge back down to First Water. Here I entered a tucked in canyon. Deer scattered like teenagers at a house party. Several heading right to the Dutchman Trail :lol: Soon I came to a four foot ledge. Contemplated how to get down. Then the ground beneath just gave way. Which was followed by the loudest involuntary scream of my life. Continuing down this just proved to be anything but delightful. Another light tributary forms. Unfortunately it's chocked with prickly bush in a couple spots so you have to skirt up a few times.

    This was done about six days after an all day rain. It must have been phenomenal the day after. Although close to the trailhead I wouldn't recommend this as a summer jaunt. I don't believe it'd be very exciting minus water.

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Map Drive

    To hike
    help comment issue

    end of page marker