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Second Water Canyon, AZ

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Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.7 of 5 by 3
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,300 feet
Elevation Gain -500 feet
Accumulated Gain 500 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.67
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
47  2018-03-17 rayhuston
25  2018-02-10
Canyon Lake to Second Water Canyon Backpack
4  2015-06-08 gummo
24  2014-01-22 AZLumberjack
10  2012-10-28 wallyfrack
Author JoelHazelton
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 10
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Not just the name of a trail.
by JoelHazelton

Overview: Second Water Canyon is a short, not too spectacular, yet interesting canyon that runs south to north across Black Mesa and connects the Second Water Trail with the Black Mesa Trail. When I hiked it, I hiked from the north end to the south end, but the better option would probably be in the other direction, so I will describe it that way.

Note: In the statistics, I put the average time and elevation gain for the canyon itself, but access to either end requires at least a couple miles hike. Refer to the Second Water Trail for access to the lower end and Black Mesa Loop for the upper end.

Hike: Access to the upper end of this canyon is from the Black Mesa trail. From the Second Water- Black Mesa junction, hike the Black Mesa Trail up to the top of the mesa. As soon as you reach the top of the mesa (when there is no longer a steep slope immediately to your left), exit the trail to your left and head east-northeast through the forest of cholla.

You will have a short ascent of about 70 feet of gain (depending on how soon you exited the trail) before you top out and start to head downhill. From where you top out, you can see the small, rocky peak 2675 that juts out from the top of the mesa to the east. Head directly towards this peak. This is where pants come in handy, as the prickly desert vegetation up here is abundant and thick. I wore shorts on this hike and feel very lucky to have not once gotten a jumping cholla stuck in my leg. As you near the peak, the contour of the land will bring you to the bottom of the canyon, which is a small, cat-claw filled ravine at this point. You will most likely not be able to travel in the bottom of the ravine quite yet, so once you reach it, you'll have to parallel it for a bit. This portion is fairly slow and not particularly enjoyable. It seemed to me that travel on creek-right was a bit easier, but I can't be too sure. It probably doesn't really make that much of a difference anyway.

Soon, the ravine starts becoming a bit more of a canyon and the vegetation starts to clear up. Hop in! It's not totally clear yet, but I assure you, it's better than paralleling it. When the canyon takes a turn to the right it becomes fun! The boulders become larger, but are pretty easy scrambles. There may be a few pools of water to dodge, but nothing bad. At about 1.5 miles the canyon starts to level out again, widens, the vegetation starts to thicken, and the water is more abundant. When I went, there were quite a few patches of tall, thick grass that were necessary to walk through, so the snake stick came in handy so that I wouldn't step on anything. The closer you get to the spring, the prettier it becomes. When you reach the spring area, there will be a flat, grassy area to the right of the creek that could hold half a dozen campsites (I could be exaggerating slightly; I don't quite remember). Around here is a great place for a break and a snack. The stretch from here to the Second Water Trail (1/4 mile, tops) is beautiful, especially if the spring is running as it was when I was there, but the last hundred yards or so is a pretty rough bushwhack. When you hit the Second Water Trail, turn left, and continue back to the trailhead for a loop of about 8.5 miles. Or, if you're not finished yet, turn right and continue on to Boulder Canyon for some more exploration.

On my trip, I drank about a gallon of water. I also drink more than most, took the canyon uphill, and it was about 85 degrees out without a cloud in the sky. Either way, bring plenty of water. Almost as important on this hike: Wear pants!

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2008-03-24 JoelHazelton
    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
    Second Water Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    A trip log by johnmc22 a few weeks back got me interested in heading out to Second Water Canyon for a look around. Like all of the other canyons nearby, a little more water would have been better, but it was nice as it was.

    A very late start for me (10:30am) put me in the Horse Lot as the First Water lot was full. I decided to take in Hackberry Spring and Garden Valley along the way. Knowing how much my friend AZLumberjack likes the areas along this route, I decided to take a few extra pictures for him to peruse while he's working that brand new knee into shape.

    While the lots were near capacity, I didn't see too many hikers on the route I took. I took a back door into Hackberry Spring because I thought the normal route would be busy. Most of the hikers I crossed paths with were coming down the hill from Garden Valley on the way to Hackberry Spring. There was a large boy scout contingent set up at the windmill/corral down the hill from the horse lot. The boys didn't hike far and had way too much energy (IMO) as I passed through the corral area.

    The weather on this fine day was absolutely spectacular. I would have stayed out all day, but I had to be home in time for the St. Paddy's day festivities. That was pretty good, too.
    Second Water Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Canyon Lake to Second Water Canyon Backpack
    A few of us did an overnight backpack trip in the Supes in early February 2018. Our route took us from the Canyon Lake Trailhead, south on Boulder Canyon Trail to Second Water Trail (about 4 miles). We then headed west of Second Water Trail, camping near the spot where the pools of water cross the Second Water Trail.

    Since the Arizona winter had been quite dry up until this point, we weren't certain of water sources. A brief Water Report review on Hike AZ just before the hike noted that Second Water Canyon had just a trickle of algae-laden slime, so we decided to carry all water needed. That made for an arduous task on day 1, coming up the incline from Canyon Lake and back down again into La Barge Canyon. We settled into camp along Second Water Canyon. In actual fact, the water source there could have been used to pump (although it was admittedly pretty gross), but we found a better source by scrambling (without packs) up Second Water Canyon to the true Second Water Spring. The water at the headwaters of Second Water Spring was actually pretty clear. See my photos for pics.

    Overall, a nice overnighter in the Supes. Hiking out was a joy with only a few liters of water to carry.
    Second Water Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    When working at the First Water TH as a Volunteer with the Forest Service, I'm often asked a lot of questions about trails that aren't on our "Master Map" that's posted at the Trailhead. One such question refers to connecting Black Mesa Trail with Second Water Trail by following Second Water Creek down to where it connects with Second Water Trail just above Boulder Creek.

    So I researched the Carlson/Stewart Hikers Guide and found that there is a trail that has a write-up in their book, HAZ also has a trail description listed, although it hasn't had much activity and it's listed as Canyoneering. Neither description was very flattering, but I needed to get out and since this was going to be such a nice seasonal day.....well, uh lets go for it.

    Arriving at the First Water TH before 0700, I was shocked to be the only vehicle in the parking lot. I got my gear on, signed the log and hit the trails as the daylight was just showing enough to not need a flashlight. It was a beautiful morning, not a breeze was blowing, the birds were singing and there was a nice blanket of clouds that could provide for a spectacular sunrise, if it all stayed together.

    I was on the uphill stretch of Second Water Trail heading for Garden Valley when I caught the first glimpse of color being reflected off the bottoms of the clouds and figured that I better shoot em now as I had hopes that I would be farther along at this point (darn-it days are getting longer now). Arriving at the signpost in Garden Valley I hung a right on Black Mesa Trail and the sunrise was only getting better. Walking into the rising sun usually bugs the snot out of me, but this was nothing to complain about as It kept the camera busy :D

    Finally, according to the descriptions, it was about time to exit Black Mesa Trail, hang a left through the Cholla Forest and start bushwhacking up a short gradual rise heading North. From the top of the ridge, I'm looking past Geronomo's Head at Four Peaks while spread before me is a featureless gradual descent into what must be the headwaters of Second Water Creek....Not much of a canyon yet... :?

    This part of the hike is a pain in the :pk: as you're working through irregularly shaped Basaltic rock, patches of Prickly Pear, Chained & Staghorn Cholla and Catclaw reaching out to snag ya. The dry flowage was thick with brush so I stayed high to avoid getting cut-up but that resulted in a lot of zig-zagging as I worked my way down the slope.

    Finally I arrived at the creek where I thought I could safely continue on but almost immediately, I heard the unmistakable snort of a Javelina coming from the thick brush ahead of me. This guy was obviously not pleased that I was invading its territory as it kept snorting and busting the brush close by (close enough that I could smell it) :scared: I threw a few rocks in the direction of the noise but that wasn't working so I retraced my tracks and beat feet about a hundred feet farther down the wash. Once past the Pig, I noticed some steel pipe in the wash so there had to be a spring above and a tank below. I wasn't going to go back up, so I continued on down until shortly, I came upon a concrete tank that was in bad shape.

    A little farther down the wash I arrived at a large camping area with multiple fire pits placed among the low growing Mesquite trees. I noticed the initials painted on the rocks mentioned by Wallyfrack during his visit and the old rusted bed frame under a tree :) There's supposed to be a mine shaft a short distance up the hill, but the brush was too thick to go exploring for it so instead I sat down and had a much needed break.

    From here on down the creek, there was pools of water from the active springs in the area and the canyon narrowed enough to force me to seek footings along the fairly steep sides (OK, now it's canyoneering) :? I continued following the creek so intently that I missed the Second Water Trail exit point and almost got to Boulder Creek before realizing I should be going the other way :doh: I still don't care much for this portion of the Second Water Trail heading up to Garden Valley but there aren't too many options.

    Once at the old earthen stock watering tank, I cut straight across the back side of Garden Valley through the Cholla Forest, connecting with the trail leading down along Hackberry Mesa. Then across the First Water valley to the old tin covered corral, up the old road to First Water Road and back to the Trailhead where I had my traditional salted-in-the-shell peanuts and a cool brew while sitting on the tailgate of my truck (just my tribute to Doug).

    So now if someone ask's me about connecting Black Mesa Trail with Second Water Trail above Boulder Creek, I can give them info from first-hand knowledge and let it go from there :)

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - 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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