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Rugged Beauty in the Superstitions
Overview: Peter's Trail is a rugged, less-used trail that offers explorers some gorgeous views of the interior Superstitions. It begins at Tortilla Ranch and ends at Dutchman Trail 104 near Charlebois. Unless in possession of a 4x4 it is likely one may have to walk the 3 miles to the Ranch from the Apache Trail, this is not included in the mileage or AEG.
Warning: A day hike involving the entire Peter's Trail is not recommended due to the total AEG and distance involved, especially if hiking from Apache Trail. Day hikes are best done as out and backs. I cannot recommend it for kids 8 and under due to the somewhat rugged areas of the trail and the fact that portions of the trail are likely to be overgrown. It is unlikely you will find many others on this trail, so a group needs to be self-sufficient.
History: As far as I can determine, this trail served primarily as a trail for ranchers who attempted to make use of Peters Basin to raise cattle. The now defunct dam just off the trail was their effort to provide a more reliable water source for the animals and was rumored to have been the most successful cattle dams in the Supes, which is believable as Peter's creek does not drain such an enormous area other than the basin and is less likely to flash flood.
Peter's Mesa has also been searched extensively for clues involving the Dutchman over the last century, with little to show for it. The Petrasch's (Reinhardt, Herman, Gottfried) were the most well-known family who extensively searched the entire Superstitions after the Deutschman's death, and the trail, creek, and Canyon are named after the Americanized version of their name.
Hike: Assuming you have made it to Tortilla Ranch (if not, hike the road in from the Apache Trail), your departure point is right at the now defunct windmill. Unfortunately the windmill has been mostly destroyed by vandals, gun-nuts, and the elements; so avoid it and save a tetanus shot.
Go through the gate and immediately you find yourself in Tortilla Creek. If it has rained recently, crossing the creek may present a problem if you wish to keep your feet dry, however this hike is definitely recommended if it has rained recently.
After following the creek for a bit, the trail proceeds out of the creek bed and into a relatively flat, open basin. Indian Spring No 1 and Indian Spring No 2 are fabled to be located in the area. I believe they are both defunct as useful springs, however I did find a place where a tiny bit of water was trickling out of the ground. It is probably not much use to anyone other than birds and insects nowadays. I recall seeing a pool that had collected in a rock basin a year ago, but hikers should not relay upon them.
The trail then begins to climb...and climb as it skirts the eastern flanks of Tortilla Mountain. A ways up you will pass the mini-oasis of Kane Spring on the east side of the trail, which appeared to have filterable water when I was there, but it is not guaranteed to be reliable, so it would be best to get a water report if planning on a camping trip.
The trail continues to climb up until you reach a saddle on the top of Horse Ridge. From here, you can see the eastern side of the ridge that forms Peters Mesa as well as the backside of Herman Mountain. About a half mile further, right as Peters Trail bends to the west, is the departure point for the Peters-Hoolie Bacon Loop (don your Kevlar if executing this loop.)
Stay on Peter's and follow the bend to the west. After the final hill you will encounter the remains of some type of rock wall, probably related to cattle ranching. From this vantage point, you can see the next few miles of Peter's Trail. At about 2.8 miles in, it makes for the good ending point for day hikers who also have to walk Tortilla Road.
From this second saddle, you will follow the trail as it steeply descends west and then a bit south until it picks up the upper reaches of Peter's Creek. Where the trail comes close to the creek the first time is a good camping spot with some shade. If the creek is flowing, don't stop yet though! Continue down Peter's Trail as it gently descends, following the creek and crossing it a few times. Cairns mark the crossings, but I missed at least one and encountered some catclaw in this section; it's nothing to get worried about though. There are some beautiful shallow swimming holes in this section if it has rained recently.
Finally, the trail reaches a smooth-rock junction as it crosses the creek for the last time. This is the departure point for those executing the Peter's Upper Canyon Loop, or visiting the Peter's Creek cowboy dam a short bit downstream. Follow Peter's Trail as it climbs south up to the top of Peter's Mesa in short order. While the portions of the trail preceding the climb could be described as less travelled, once on top of the mesa, portions are downright faint. Hikers, especially day hikers, should be warned that getting off-trail on Peter's Mesa is a likely occurrence, so plan to spend a bit more time in this section to do a bit of hunting. There are some infrequent cairns that could prove useful.
Peter's Trail proceeds to bend east and the trail slowly improves. Descending on the backside of Black Mountain (once called Charlebois Mountain), there are views of Charlebois Canyon and Music Canyon. Only one difficult route finding section is encountered in this section where a few campsites have obfuscated the trail continuance. Finally, the descent ends as you reach the Dutchman Trail.
At the end of the Peter's Trail, you are close to Charlebois spring and the Peralta Master Map. Charlebois is a popular campsite in the Superstitions and is fairly reliable.
Trip logs: Consider your options before posting a trip log to this page.
o Shuttle hikes to consider: (go to the page and post)
- Peters Trail (this hike) combined with Charlebois from First Water
- Peters Trail to Peters Canyon Complete Route (TBD) (to Tortilla Flats)
o Day hikes to consider: (go to the page and post)
- (easy) Peters Trail to the Second Saddle
- (moderate) Hoolie Bacon - Peters Loop (don Kevlar)
- (difficult) Peters Mesa
- (difficult) Peters Canyon Upper Loop (only as far as the dam, strenuous if doing it all)
- (difficult) Tortilla Peak 4918
- (strenuous) Tortilla Super Loop
o Backpack loops and others starting on Peter's Trail
- Post a trip log from here
- Adjust your mileage, elevation gain & accumulated elevation gain
- After it post, link other trail segments using the "Link Hikes: <- Link to other Hikes!" feature as applicable
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.