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Bluff Springs Trail #235, AZ

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Guide 415 Triplogs  5 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
3.4 of 5 by 63
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 3.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,400 feet
Elevation Gain 780 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,015 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.68
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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16  2019-05-23
Superstition Mnts - SW / Barks Canyon Wall
15  2019-04-13
Miners Needle Loop & Bluff Spring Mtn
7  2019-03-29
Miners Needle Loop
6  2019-03-23
Robbers Roost - Superstitions
8  2019-03-09
Superstition Mnts - SW / Wild Horse Wall
7  2019-03-08
Miners Needle Loop
6  2019-03-05
Weaver's Needle Crosscut
8  2019-03-03
Barks Lower Canyon Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 35
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
103 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Hoodoo Watchers Paradise
by nonot

This trail begins off of the Dutchman basically at the Peralta Trailhead, and climbs through some scenic views until it reaches the Dutchman Trail 104 at Crystal Spring on the southeast side of Bluff Springs Mountain. Bluff Springs itself is northwest of Crystal Spring along the Dutchman another quarter mile.

This trail has some steep climbs and difficult route-finding sections. If it is raining, the prospect of hiking through Barks Creek could be a dangerous one. I do not see a problem with taking children on this hike when it is not raining, as the return is almost all downhill. Just don't let them wander out of sight ahead of you due to the likelihood they could take a wrong turn and your party could get separated. However, kids who are easily tired might not make it very far up the steep beginning. (Then again, if your goal is to wear them out this may be the perfect plan :)

While the trail itself doesn't appear to be significant, the area is rich with Dutchman lore. Barks Canyon is named after Jim Bark, who was involved in the Barkley Basin/Circle U ranching operations nearby in the Deutschman's time. Bluff Spring Mountain has been extensively searched for clues in the last century. The area had some mining operations, and the Ely Anderson trail still exists from long before the land was settled and Mexican mule trains were used to haul out the ore. It is not known what they mined for on the mountain, but it was not necessarily gold. History indicates that the area near the end of the trail was used as a camp for the Mexican miners, with variations based on how much one believes about the Peralta Mines and Dutchman's gold. William's Camp is another mining site off of the trail and old artifacts, mostly junk like cans and bottles, can still be observed, please leave them for future hikers to find. (Modern trash should be packed out)

After traveling a few dozen yards on the Dutchman, Bluff Springs Trail splits off to the north and begins a substantial climb. Known as "Cardiac Hill" due to the fact it will get your heart rate up, it quickly ascends 400 feet until a good saddle that has a view of Peralta Canyon. The trail continues to climb another 200 feet more until more level ground is encountered.

Reaching the flat section, one could proceed up a nondescript drainage to do the unmarked "Cave Trail" as Bluff Spring trail curves to the east, however it is not recommended to do that trail from this direction. Proceed east on the Bluff Springs trail and contour around a rather large hill to your north.

The trail continues on and is somewhat closed-in in sections due to vegetation. The hiker should eventually notice that they have reached, and are essentially paralleling a creek to their east. Some hikers will likely accidentally descend into the creek and off of the trail. Doing this is easier hiking, however it makes the route finding very difficult, let me explain: The hiker should pay close attention at this stage. This is one of the most likely points a hiker could get lost on the Superstition's popular trails. The Bluff Springs trail dumps you off into a creek with smooth rock and some gravel in the streambed. Some hikers may already have been going northwest in the creek bed for a few minutes if they descended too soon. The markings at this point are very poor. Essentially, you need to know that you want to TURN here and proceed NORTHEAST up the creek bed that is in on the hiker's right, rather than continue northwest up the creek bed in front of you. Although it looks like most people have gone northwest, it is NOT the trail, but is due to many people going the wrong way. (Those proceeding in the reverse direction should realize that the trail itself is slightly to the south of the creek bed that heads southeast.)

For those planning a loop hike, this is the first intersection with Bark's Creek. This is the departure point for both the difficult "Upper Barks Canyon Trail" (which is known to be misnamed) and easier "Lower Barks Canyon" hikes. The creek to the southeast and northeast are Barks Creek. To the northwest is an unnamed drainage that presents a difficult climb up to Weaver's Overlook. Stay on the Bluff Springs Trail in the creek bed going NORTHEAST.

After following cairns upstream in the creek bed (there are short sections out of the creek bed that are cairned), eventually a well-defined trail can be found on the right side (north/east) in a generally grassy area. The cairns are generally pretty good in this section and the absence of major vegetation means that hikers shouldn't have much difficultly finding the trail where it crosses to the northeast side of the creek. This is an easy stroll until the trail leaves the side of the creek and begins a steep haul up the west side of a small mountain.

This is the departure point for the "Barks Canyon Complete Route" (found by staying in the creek, rather than the trail.) Continue on north on the Bluff Springs trail as it steeply climbs to vistas that present an amazing views to the west of hoodoos and the most rugged looking terrain one is likely to see just about anywhere.

After completing the climb, the trail levels and begins to curve to the northeast. When another creek/drainage is encountered, the signed trail intersection can be found for the Terrapin Trail. Some people miss this sign as it is somewhat hidden next to the vegetation on the east side of the trail. If it is not noticed, look over your right shoulder from time to time in case you passed it. The Terrapin itself can be found on the other side of the smooth-rock drainage and is indistinct at the beginning. The signed trail for the Terrapin is the departure point for those executing the "Weaver's Needle Loop" or the "Weaver's Needle Crosscut Loop", or just those who wish to take the Terrapin.

Continue on the Bluff Springs to the east alongside the creek. The creek bed itself heads off to the north in short time to "Williams Camp" and a possible ascent to "Bluff Springs Mountain". Stay on the Bluff Springs Trail as it heads east.

For the rest of the trail you can admire Bluff Springs Mountain to your north. Where the trail turns north, one could depart on the "Ely-Anderson Trail", or simply continue to follow Bluff Springs Trail to its end and intersection with the Dutchman a few hundred yards further to the north.

The intersection with the Dutchman is right next to Crystal Spring, which is unreliable. Following the Dutchman to the north and then following a drainage to the northwest, one can find the actual Bluff Springs, for which the trail is named. The Bluff Springs are also not reliable, but sometimes have water, so obtain a water report before setting out to camp.

The only signed trails along Bluff Springs are the Terrapin and Dutchman. All of the other routes, including the Cave Trail, are not signed and one would need to pay close attention both to stay on the Bluff Springs Trail, or to find their points of departure.

The incredible views of the hoodoos and ancient volcanic debris seen alongside the trail make it a popular option for those executing day hike loops, or simply for those preferring an alternate path into the interior western Superstitions.

Triplogs: Consider your options before +Adding a triplog to this guide.

• Day hikes to consider:
- (moderate) Barks Lower Canyon Loop
- (moderate) Cave Trail
- (moderate) Bluff Springs Loop & Weaver's View
- (difficult) Weaver's Needle Loop via Peralta
- (difficult) Barks Upper Canyon Loop
- (difficult) Bluff Springs Mountain Loop
- (difficult) Ely Anderson Trail
- (difficult) Bluff Springs Mountain Summit (including the descent to Terrapin)
- (strenuous) Barks Canyon Complete Route (to Weaver's Overlook)

• Backpack loops and others starting on #235
- +Add a triplog from here
- Adjust your mileage, elevation gain & accumulated elevation gain
- Link other trail segments using the "Linked:" feature

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-03-16 nonot

    One-Way Notice
    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.

    Most recent of 131 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Yet another magnificent day in the Supes and a couple of 80–year olds in our hiking group of six thought they might be able to make it around Miner’s Needle one more time. With apologies to Tennyson, “We are not now the strength which in the old days” sped around Miner’s Needle but we can still creep around it, and creep we did, interrupted at Whiskey Bottle by another Diamondback lying in the bushes, pretty hard to see them camouflaged like that. We took the opportunity, thanks to Tibber and others, to shoot 200 feet up Whiskey Bottle and get a preview of Weaver’s Needle and what I’m guessing was Bluff Springs Mountain. A couple of backpackers we bumped into there sprinted over and ran up Miner’s Summit. Impressive, but that was not on the octogenarian’s agenda today. I had intended to retighten my laces before leaving that pass and the trip down Bluff Springs reminded me that I had forgotten to do that. Black toes tomorrow. Plenty of hikers, plenty of flowers today, although not quite the diversity I was hoping for. We met some youngsters coming off Cave Trail. Very nice to see people making it down that trail on their own power and to see so many others taking advantage of one of the great treasures of our state.

    Plentiful, not a lot of diversity, however.
    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    What a great weekend of backpacking! I don't think I've ever seen so much water in the Superstitions. My group of 4 started from Peralta Trailhead onto Bluff Springs on Saturday morning, making it up Cardiac Hill in pretty good time. We saw water flowing down the trail in a few spots and knew we were in for a lovely trip. Tons of water at the bottom of Barks Canyon. Then we headed up Terrapin, which we wanted to revisit because our first experience of it was on our first ever backpacking trip — a hot and cloudless day in which that trail felt endless. I highly recommend coming down, not up, this one! Views were awesome with lots of big clouds, some of them looking a little stormy but never quite intersecting our path. We then headed onto Dutchman #104, a stretch that was new to us. We intended to scope out Charlebois and then camp farther on but in the end we peeked around and then missed the turnoff for it. :lol: Oh well, we'll see it next time.

    So far, none of the creek crossings were anything to sweat. Not so on the next 7. The first, just past Charlebois was the widest bit of water I've ever seen in the Superstitions. We all had opted to leave our camp shoes behind to allow for warmer layers (we reasoned we would be too cold to wear our sandals at camp) which we realized was a big mistake. We ended up crossing this creek, and the next few, barefoot. :scared: It was cold but the sharp rocks were worse. Some of the crossings were deeper than you could see bottom of, others had strong currents. And all of them had some stepping stones, but nothing anywhere near resembling a path you could hop across. Sometimes looking across to where the cairn showed the trail picked back up was just hilarious. :) Lesson learned. We found a great campsite on this stretch and warmed up with hot food and some strong cocktails after over 9 miles of hiking and negotiating cold creek crossings. We were beat.

    Sunday morning hike out was beautiful. We were worried we would see rain but it was a really nice day. We finished Dutchman back over to Bluff Springs. In the crook of Barks Canyon, on the way out, there is a little cairn and trail leading up...anyone know where that goes? Anyway, we continued up out and in good time, still enjoying all the water along the way and the views up on the bluffs. I added a couple water reports. Unfortunately we had to switch between devices on the way and some data got lost. But basically, it's all flowing. Almost all the creek beds we walked through had flow. :lol: Really great trip overall.
    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Dutchman's Middle Trail Loop
    A favorite hike of mine is the Middle Trail, which begins by paralleling the Dutchman's Wash north, from Barkley Basin to Bluff Springs Canyon. I know, the Miner's Needle Loop accomplishes the same objective. But this hike is shorter in distance, less travelled, with more exploring opportunities, and offers varying return options.

    When I first began hiking this route I spent much time meandering through the wash. Over time, I found parts of the "old" trail. Now it is possible for one to stay out of the wash and to hike "a" trail north all the way to the short, slick ravine in Middle Canyon.

    The next section of the hike has been line of sight across Middle Canyon to the base of two hills separated by a nasty drainage. The ascension to the saddle had been a major drawback with calamitous cats claw, not so "brittle" brush and bruising boulders.

    Unexpectedly (to me), someone(s) had cleared away much of the nastiness, thereby, removing a major impediment, making the hike up to the saddle less stressful, less blood-letting, and less time-consuming.

    The last part of the hike north from the Hill 3559 saddle to the connection with the Bluff Springs Trail is a reward for making it through all of the aforementioned. :y: Line of site, and/or an on-again off-again trail, will connect with a winding ravine and to the east/west portion of the Bluff Springs Trail.

    The description above is the north/south route. My hike was in the opposite direction. I stayed in the ravine too long and spent some time exploring the top of Hill 3559. I'll have to pay more attention when doing the clock-wise loop. After descending from the hill to the saddle I was surprised at the openness to the descent into Middle Canyon.
    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Dacite Roost Cave
    Kelly invited John and I to get out for a hike. I've only been out for a couple of easy hikes since the new year so I wanted to do something hard. Plan A was 5057, my suggestion, but it was clear early that I didn't have the conditioning to get me there. So we settled on something fun instead.

    From the Carney Springs TH we hiked up the WB saddle, then headed west toward Robbers Roost, played around in there a bit, continued down to Fremont Saddle, out to the Weavers Needle overlook, then back on the Cave Trail to the Peralta TH where Kelly managed to find us a ride back to the car. We would have finished the loop on foot, but I was toast and we all knew it.

    I played catch up most of the hike, hence the lower break time in my trip log than Kelly's. I knew it would be difficult after a long layoff, but not this difficult. I have some work to do.

    Kelly and John, thank you for a fun time, and thank you for your patience. In spite of the pain and struggles, I really did have a great time.
    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Dacite Roost Cave
    the plan b hike we did today most closely resembles the dacite super loop with a couple of detours
    got going around 0700
    up to west boulder saddle - i had forgotten how much fun that is
    decided along the way to hit robbers roost and go down the cave trail
    i've only been on the section between west boulder saddle and fremont saddle once
    really enjoyed seeing it again, especially the visit to robbers roost
    great geology, rock formations and views from up there
    went out to the pinyon tree for a snack break
    surprised to have it to ourselves
    returned on cave and bluff springs trails
    could see the hordes on peralta :o
    since we had parked at carney, we hitched a ride from peralta, not wanting to walk the dusty dirt road
    carney was the usual circus full of wave cavers
    hadn't been on any of these trails in a few years
    nice morning for some exploration and great scenery with ray and john
    thanks, guys :)

    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Kelly and I were initially going to do a Sedona trek but since the temps looked a little cooler than we would prefer, we went to a Plan B. I texted Kathy, now that she passed her Series III, to see if she was up for a hike on a Sunday (now that there isn't any football) and she was game. When I took Kathy on the Miners Needle Loop in December and we passed by the Ely Anderson TH, I had mentioned to her about the Bluff Spring Mountain hike once I was in better shape. So with all of that, we three girls decided to do this hike since Kelly was fine with hiking the mountain again as well.

    We got started around 9ish I think. It was a bit windy, and a chilly wind at that, as we started up Cardiac Hill. That one always is a doozie especially since you still have to go up for another 3/4 mile or so before you finally top out. At Lower Bark's Saddle we enjoyed our first view of Weaver's Needle and I reminisced about when johnr1 and I had done this hike in 2011 and I filmed the sun slowly lighting up the Needle.

    We hiked our way over to the Ely Anderson TH meeting up with around 9 hikers including 2 that were sitting up a ways as we made our way to Upper Barks saddle. After a fuel break, it was time to go UP the trail. We lost the original trail for a bit but then joined up with the cairned path for our up and up with a couple easier sections in-between before more up and up. Finally I saw the stone wall and pointed it out to Kathy. It's nice to have goals to shoot for when you're going up and up. That view when you first peek over the rock outcropping is astonishing as Weavers Needle about hits you in the face :y: . Just WOW! so we stood there for a moment or two and took pictures.

    And now to finish off the somewhat trail of the Ely Anderson. From there we veer slightly left and then stay slightly to the low side as you try to pick your way across the wide open prairie of Bluff Spring Mountain that's dotted with rocks and cactus and brush. I did spot a few cairns on my upper route which we also found for the way back as there are basically no trails through here. Kelly and Kathy decided to stay to the far left for their 175 foot in .2 mile climb up Bluff but that looked way too intimidating for me so I swung a little more to the center for my ascent. I spotted a few cairns on the ascent too. I was finally getting closer to the rocks of the summit when I saw the tip of Kathy's hat which meant it wasn't too much further.

    Whoo hoo, I'm back here again; such a worthy summit with two of my favorite hiking companions. They both are so supportive of my eventually get 'er done pace. After a few quick pictures it was time for lunch. I also brot a couple pictures of johnr1 as the picture I took up here is the one they used on the Memorial program so I thot it fitting to add it to the summit box. johnr1 and I had the most beautiful hike to this summit in November 2011.

    We found it hard to leave as the weather and the views couldn't have been more perfect. Canyon Lake was the deep blue of an ocean and we could see all the noticeable landmarks from our vista... such a wonderful feeling. But alas, we had to get down from this summit and go back across the grassy, rocky tundra of Bluff Spring Mountain. We managed to find the route I came across on and then from there a real nice flat and even, though slightly grassy, route almost all the way to the end/beginning of the Ely Anderson Trail.

    This time I made sure the girls saw the stone fence as they kind of missed it on the way up even though they both crossed through it :lol: . And now it was time for the down and more down. It was a little warmer now. Glad it was sticky rock for most of this. Took a couple pics, Kelly stopped to talk to another hiker who had begun his ascent and then just before the bottom I landed on my tush. Once on level ground, I was a little tired so it took me a bit longer as the girls proceeded ahead. We took a break on Upper Barks saddle and then had shade for the hill climb up to Lower Barks saddle. It is a nice grade though as is the next hill that looks like it is steeper than it is. By now I'm in "hiking for beer" mode anyway so it's all good :) .

    We hung at the TH for a bit watching all the activity; about as good as hangin' at the airport. A nice day, a great hike and even better, time with Kelly and Kathy.

    Part 1 to top of Ely-Anderson TH from Peralta TH - [ youtube video ]
    Part 2 to the Summit from Ely-Anderson Trail - [ youtube video ]
    Part 3 Summit back to Peralta TH [ youtube video ]
    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    rescheduled a hike with tibber
    weather seemed to favor the superstitions over sedona this weekend
    kathy hadn't been up on bluff spring mountain, so that was angela's plan for today
    got a parking spot at peralta and set out on bluff spring trail a little after 8:30
    pretty good breeze from the east
    a lot of people out on bluff spring trail - more than i've seen before
    took a short snack break at the ely-anderson turnoff
    headed up on this nicely cairned use trail
    steep at times, but with good footing, much of it on bedrock
    i've upgraded my rating
    easy off trail and a final push to the summit
    some of the best views in the superstitions of weaver's needle, the ridgeline, battleship, canyon lake, palomino
    in the other direction, miner's needle, buzzard's roost and picketpost
    had some lunch and took some pics for awhile
    quite a few haz members in the summit log
    took a peek into hidden valley on the way back
    warmed up nicely on the return
    just a perfect day to be out there
    my second time on this hike
    next time would like to drop back to terrapin
    very nice day out with the girls :)
    kinda fun to revisit some old favorites lately

    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    been wanting to get out in the supes lately, and this loop has been on my list for a repeat
    denny, john and i set out just before 0700
    went clockwise, to avoid later crowds on peralta and ascend the loose rock on terrapin
    have only been on the northern part of peralta trail and terrapin once
    most of peralta seemed familiar, but much of terrapin did not
    cool to start with
    took a break along the short segment of dutchman
    very pleasant scenery and temps throughout the hike
    started seeing a few people once on bluff springs trail
    finished just before noon to a packed parking lot
    very little water out there
    nice to be out with the boys again :)
    denny and john sprang for street tacos at mi casita in chandler - yum!
    good times

    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    It was steep at times.

    Had the all stars with me today for this trek into the Superstitions. Jan, Carey, Maria, and Yolanda. My second time up Carney Springs to Robbers Roost then over to Cave trail for my first (and successful) attempt. We made good time up Carney and was passed by a large group from the Arizona Mountaineering Club doing Ridgeline. Meet one lone hiking at Robbers Roost who came up Peralta. Cautiously made our way down Cave trail thanks to first hand knowledge of my teammates and route info from HAZ. Definitely made good use of the GPS tracks for this one! Fantastic day in the Sups!
    Bluff Springs Trail #235
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Classic loop after a day of rain. Too bad there were only a few small pools here and there, nothing much. Didnt see anyone at all on the way to Fremont. Actually didnt see anyone until I got on the Terrapin trail. This was my first time hiking the Terrapin and I liked it. It was a nice challenge and a different perspective. My favorite part of the hike was right around Bluff Saddle. It was a strange flat rocky area unlike any of the hike previously. Almost out of this world looking. Good to be in the Supes.

    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
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