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Yellow Peak - Superstitions, AZ

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Guide 23 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.7 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 1.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,557 feet
Elevation Gain 488 feet
Accumulated Gain 800 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
7  2019-01-10
Black Mesa Loop - Superstition Mtns
15  2015-02-22
Yellow Peak Hackberry Loop
12  2015-02-22
Yellow Peak Hackberry Loop
25  2015-02-16
Black Top Mesa and Yellow Peak
3  2015-01-17
Battleship - Yellow Peak Loop
5  2015-01-17 hikerdw
10  2015-01-17
Battleship - Yellow Peak Loop
5  2015-01-17 BobP
Page 1,  2,  3
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,442
Trips 1,893 map ( 15,579 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov → Early
Seasons   Winter
Sun  6:09am - 6:32pm
5 Alternative
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Dutchman gold hunters found here
by CannondaleKid

If you've hiked the Black Mesa Trail, Black Mesa Loop or the south half of Boulder Canyon Trail, you've hiked right on by this peak, which just happens to named Yellow Peak. If you view it from a southerly direction you will notice the "yellow" rock escarpment from which the peak got it's name. While you can approach it from the south or north from either Boulder Canyon Trail or the Black Mesa Trail, if you want to do it in the shortest distance, begin at the First Water TH, follow Second Water Trail until you get to the Black Mesa Trail intersection, turn right onto this trail and continue about 2 miles to where the trail drops down to creek level and turns northeast before turning southeast away from the creek. At this point you should decide first, whether to make your approach to the Yellow Peak summit, and second whether as a round-trip or out-and-back. Depending on your choices it will vary from 1 to 2 or more miles added onto your Black Mesa trek. The Yellow Peak-specific track I'll is about 1.6 miles.

Start from First Water TH, stay on the Second Water Trail for about 1.8 miles to the Black Mesa Trail. Turn RIGHT on the Black Mesa Trail and continue 2.0 to 2.1 miles depending on whether you want to do a clockwise or counter-clockwise loop up to the Yellow Peak summit and on around.
For a CW loop I'd recommend leaving the Black Mesa Trail at or near 33.46926 -111.40302
For a CCW loop I'd recommend leaving the Black Mesa Trail at or near 33.46844 -111.40047

For the shortest and quickest trip to the summit, an out-and-back approaching from the south is less than a mile. On the other end, if make it a loop including a side-trip down to the NE saddle and another down to the lower E saddle, hitting the summit along the way you can rack up to 2.5 miles, which is what I did.

If you do an out-and-back to the summit only, I'd recommend approaching from the south, which will be the shortest. My GPS track features an approach from the west climbing up the WNW slope. While it was steep, it was easy enough to climb the large rocks almost like stepping stones. If you are planning the loop and want to climb up the rocks, I'd recommend climbing sooner than I did (from leaving Black Mesa Trail in the creek bed) on the west slope. Otherwise continue farther around to the north end than I did and have an easier but ~.2 mi longer longer trek.

If you want to experience the whole works, I'd recommend taking the south route up, across the summit and down N to the first saddle and a few smaller 'bumps' then down to the east across a lower saddle, climb the small peaks that face east over Boulder Canyon, then you can either loop southeast or northeast down to the Boulder Canyon Trail, traverse NW around the north end or traverse across to the south and around to the west back to the Black Mesa Trail. There is so much to see and such fabulous views (Battleship, Geronimo Head, Malapais Mountain, Black Top Mesa, Black Mesa, and Weaver's Needle and even the west ridgeline of the Superstitions) you'll want to take your time. Oh yeah, and if you think the Dutchman's gold is on this peak... well, have at it, but be careful, you don't want to be pushing up daisies, or whatever grows around here. One last thing... while I was here in late January, I don't doubt much of the peak will be a rattlesnake haven/heaven in the warmer months. I walked through numerous areas chock full of holes (and caved in many) that just spoke rattler to me.

Note #1
The stats for this hike reflect only the distance, time and elevation gain from the point you leave and return to the Black Mesa Trail #241. When planning this hike make sure you allow for the time out and back on the Black Mesa Trail from First Water TH. Be sure to link either Black Mesa Loop or Second Water/Black Mesa Trail #241 to your triplog.
Note #2
Depending whether you do an out-and-back from the south or do the "Full Monte" as described above, the AEG will range between 500' and 850'. Your mileage will also vary from .8 to 2.0 if you are prone to wander.

Check out the Triplogs.

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

2011-01-22 CannondaleKid
    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
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Yellow Peak Hackberry Loop
    yellow peak has been on my radar for awhile, especially since so many haz members have been up there recently
    john kindly agreed to go with me
    got started early before those pesky groups of 15 showed up ;)
    second water trail to black mesa trail
    found the take off point from the creek using wally's track
    several have gone up this way from the southwest, so we just picked the best line and went up
    not bad ascending, but can't say as i enjoyed going down the black rock section - too many moving rocks
    nice grassy summit area with stellar views of weaver's needle, palomino, black top mesa, battleship, geronimo, malapais and the entire ridgeline
    wandered around a bit, signed the entertaining summit register and discussed our route down
    john had never been on black mesa trail and wanted to do the hackberry spring loop
    we decided to go back to garden valley the way we came
    after dropping of yellow peak, took a snack break of the blood oranges john brought and some cashew clusters :)
    from garden valley, explored the rock base with the grinding holes and alcove that jack showed me
    went around to the arch and climbed up into it
    pure luck that i found these things again
    backtracked to the trail and went down to first water creek
    lots of water flowing, much more that our trip there in november
    checked out the spring, then took our time through the scenic narrow section
    looked around the ranch, then up and out, back on the road
    nice combo, and glad to have been on the summit of yellow peak
    weather was perfect, with cool temps, a decent breeze and somewhat overcast skies at times
    saw quite a few people once back on the main trails
    thanks for the hike, john - another good one
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Black Top Mesa and Yellow Peak
    I had unfinished business on BTM (missed the 'glyphs the first time around) and missed an opportunity to hike Yellow Peak with Bruce, Joe and Father Dave a few weeks back. I didn't have a plan for today, so I thought I would scratch these off my to do list.

    Black top mesa is fun. I explored much more of it today than I did on my only previous trip. Once on top I headed towards the west edge and then headed north, following the perimeter of the mesa. Nice views all the way around. It is lush on top, green in spots, but watch for the ankle busting rocks hidden in the grass. Checked out the glyphs on the southeast end, then headed down.

    Yellow Peak was next on my list. I went up on the west side where the Black Mesa trail veers left away from the creek. Very steep. I was rewarded with a patch of Mexican Poppies about half way up. Located and signed the summit register on the sound end. Meandered around up top for a bit, but didn't see anything exciting so I departed down the north slope towards the creek below. I took a right at the creek (should have gone left) and climbed out about a quarter mile later at the twisted saguaro in my photo set.

    From here it was cross country following game trails and bushwhacking my way towards Garden Valley. Going right at the creek was a mistake. I ended up traversing a couple of steeper ravines that might have been easier (or avoided altogether) if I had gone left at the creek and climbed out where the creek turns south. But then I would have missed the jumping cholla that attached my left elbow. 10 minutes later, I got the last of the quills out and headed out again. I also would have missed my first Javelina encounter. Going down the second ravine, I passed what must have been a Javelina den on my right. I heard some rustling that I mistook for birds. I heard it again and then something moved quickly in front of me towards the route I was planning to take. It stopped in front of me, maybe 25 feet away. It was a large javelina :o. I saw the hackles on its back rise and fall. More rustling to my right :o :o. I froze, eyeballing the area around me for large rocks, thinking I might need one. The javelina in front of me took off, maybe a diversion to keep me away from the den. The only way forward was to follow it. I did. Luckily for me, I didn't see or hear it again. I continued down the ravine, crossed the wash and headed up the other side. Whew! That was a little too exciting!

    The rest of the trip was uneventful. I reached Garden Valley and headed back on 2nd Water. Nice hike on a gorgeous day.

    Saw nice color, poppies among them, on the way up Yellow Peak (west slope). Indian paint brush is dotting the Dutchman trail near Parker's Pass.
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Claire and I met up for an afternoon hike in the Supes. We hit the nearly full parking lot at First Water Trailhead around noon and made a clockwise loop with a relatively quick stop on Yellow Peak. Yellow Peak is a lot of fun and offers great views of Battleship and Boulder Canyon. I was up here last year and didn't find the register. This time we found it on the south side of the peak. There are a handful of entertaining HAZ entries ;)

    After our break on the summit we hiked back down and completed our loop via the Dutchman Trail and returned to the trailhead a little after 5pm. Nice day in the Supes!
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Battleship - Yellow Peak Loop
    After 6-7 years, was good to stand on the battleship again. A bonus was to bag Yellow Peak while out there. Started out about 6:45am, enjoyed some nice, brisk, but not too-cold weather as we crossed over the ridge and back down into the Supes off of Boulder Canyon Trail, with sights set on the ship. Years ago, I remembered the throat of the ship being a lot scarier than it was this time. Last time I had seen the graffiti (see photo) but not the slice of pie, that was a pretty cool sight. We all dared each other to jump, but no one was crazy enough to actually do it. Reaching the top, we heard another group of HAZers making their way to the ship. After hanging out at the top a little while, we headed south toward the descent and ran into the team there (skillpore, Tortoise Hiker & wallyfrack).

    After hanging out with them a while we said by to Ray, and Joe and Bruce and I headed for a loop around Yellow Peak. When we reached our climbing spot, Bruce went on, opting to hike around and check out a cave while we went for the peak. The Yellow Peak scramble was pretty quick and easy, not too much brush to show us down. Once we got to the top, I was surprised to see a peak register canister. It (appropriately) had a yellow lid. I opened it up and to my surprise, there was some really nice Norwegian chocolate in there. I said "Joe! There's chocolate in here, let's eat it!" Joe's response, "ahh, that stuff's probably been there forever and pretty gross." Actually no, it had been left just moments earlier that day, thanks to chumley & BobP. (Sorry we didn't catch up to you both, but thanks for the choco surprise!!) Not wasting a lot of time, we headed north across the top of Yellow Peak and down the north side, to meet up with Bruce and hike out. Lots of beautiful views down on our way back to Second Water junction, including one peak that looked like the mountain the Grinch lived on in the Christmas flick.

    I stuck with Bruce & Joe until we finished the major part of the climb up and out, then said my goodbyes and sprinted back to the marina so that I could get back home to work.

    Thanks Bruce & Joe for the invite and great company! Great hanging a little bit with you again, also, Ray!
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Combined Yellow Peak with the Boulder Canyon Loop for a nice day on the trails. The views from Yellow Peak in the morning were fantastic. We climbed up from the south and descended into the canyon to the north. I enjoyed the climb up more than the decent down which seemed steeper at least the route we took. Had lunch at the entrance of Needle Canyon where there were some nice pools of water and chatted about next weeks planned hike. We thought about going through Needle Canyon, connecting with Bull Pass, but opted to to continue with the BC loop. Started out cool at the 7 AM start, but warmed up nicely.
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Battleship - Yellow Peak Loop
    We hit Battleship. Chilly on route into LaBarge, Bruce swore it was colder with each step. Waved the flag on top for ten minutes, snacked and moved on. Met Skillpore and the dynamic Denny Wally duo just before the descent into Boulder Creek. Ray is true to his school and especially his girl. After battling the ship he sailed solo back to the marina.

    The balance of the group worked through Boulder to Black Mesa. This route gets old quick. Luckily the only thing to complain about on this beautiful day. Along the way we passed a number of groups. Seniors outnumbered the pipsqueaks for the most part. Everyone encountered was friendly, smiling and pleasant on the chat exchange.

    Bruce and I worked the padre over and over in search of hidden sins. The force is strong in this one. Apparently he's studied and applied Olsteen theories to a tee.

    Onwards to Yellow Peak. Bruce explored the canyon while Dave and I hit the peak. I only jumped on this hike for the company. Battleship is cool but a yawner compared to Geronimo above. Boulder ranks low on my enjoyable list. The views are world class. It's just more of a thing I enjoyed getting into hiking and figure I'll appreciate more twenty years from now.

    Heading up to Yellow Peak a "why in the world is this necessary" mindset changed in a hurry. Those world class views all around had a nice new perspective. The peak was much larger on top than anticipated. The dark jumbled boulders in contrast to the waving grass was sweet. We followed NW following a ridge out and down to meet Bruce. That creek was pretty cool too.

    Great to see all out on this fab day in the soups!
    ...Skillpore requested his full identity not be revealed
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Dead Men's Canyon

    With the promise of another absolutely perfect Arizona day, it was time for me to hit the Superstition trails again. While working the First Water TH as a Volunteer with the US Forest Service, I'm often asked questions about many of the little known trails that branch off the regular maintained ones. Another such trail branches off the Black Mesa trail alongside Yellow Peak where the bodies of the three men from Utah were discovered in January of 2011 (Details: ) After checking online, old maps and even Louis Ruiz at the Bluebird Mine Store, I was unable to come up with a name for this canyon so I am just referring to it as Dead Men's Canyon and Creek.

    I signed the log and left the Trailhead before sunrise, even using my flashlight in the pre-dawn to locate the Dutchman's Trail as it winds along the First Water Creek. I made good time, by arriving at Parker's Pass before the sun was breaking over the still dark outline of Palomino Mountain, even entering what I call "Signpost Valley" where the turn-off to Black Mesa Trail came into view.

    After pausing to take a couple of snapshots, it was off onto the Black Mesa Trail and crossing the broad expanse of the very dry West Boulder Creek. I ascended the steep portion of the trail heading in the direction of Garden Valley until I arrived at the dry wash descending from the trail into the unnamed canyon passing alongside the Western flank of Yellow Peak.

    There are some great views to the North from here and Yellow Peak completely blocked out the rising sun as I made my way down the creek bed. The wash is just wide enough to be useful for hiking as the brush alongside the creek is green and healthy with the Catsclaw reaching out to grab exposed skin and clothing :o At one point I took a break from the boulder hopping and noticed something shiny reflecting the sun a short distance up the Western hillside. Upon investigating further, I found an old claim marker (33 deg 28.669 X 111 deg 24.295) with three beer cans nailed onto the top sides :? and less than 100 yards away (33 deg 28.700 X 111 deg 24.331) I found a second aging pole well planted into the rocky surface.

    I wasn't aware how far up the slope I had traveled until I began working my way back down to the wash again. Lots of tripping hazards and narrow gashes in the rock surface made for slow going but eventually I arrived at the wash in a nice flat area where I looked for signs of any foundations. No signs of a camp or even a fire ring in this area kinda surprised me since it would make a good central location for prospectors to operate from.

    Back to the boulder hopping, I continued slowly down the wash jumping from rock-to-rock wishing there was room alongside the creek for a trail to make life easier. Occasionally I would find a smooth section where the eons of water erosion had carved unique patterns into the ancient volcanic rock base even leaving deep pools that still held dark stagnant water.

    Around the half way point, the canyon walls rose straight up and made sharp turns to the right and left, almost like a mini version of La Barge lower box, a very scenic area to be in :) A bit further down, I came across a collection of bones.... nope, not human, scattered among the rocks..... Time to look around to see if anything's following me :scared:

    Finally as I rounded one of the sharp bends, there it was, Battleship Mountain sitting perkly in the sun straight ahead. The wash widened out now leaving plenty of room for the brush to close-in but still a long way off to Boulder Creek. Larger boulders, larger pools and narrow canyons dot the final 1/2 mile of wash but eventually give way to the expanse of Boulder Canyon :y: Now I could follow the marked cairns and trails.

    I was mildly surprised to find water flowing in Boulder Creek, with pools of clear water where I could finally wash off the blood that had accumulated from brushing against the Catsclaw. I hadn't come across another person so far in my travels but that ended as I climbed the banks at Second Water signpost, meeting a group of four who were coming from Canyon Lake.

    Now it was climb up the endless rock strewn trail leading up to Garden Valley where the trail finally flattened out again. While walking through, I investigated a couple of areas that lie well off the Second Water Trail where someone is sifting through the dirt in an effort to find early Indian artifacts. There are piles of broken pottery sherds, an obvious sigh that the searcher is looking for something more valuable than pottery.

    The Forest Service has been aware of this illegal operation for some time now and we keep monitoring the area for signs of recent work. I would request that anyone noticing anything suspicious within the Garden Valley area, please report it to the Mesa Forest Service Office or one of the Volunteers that are at the trailhead.

    It was a warm one today as I signed out on the logbook around 2:00 pm and looking for that "cool one" that's been waiting in my truck :) Oh Yeah.....Gotta Love the Superstitions
    Yellow Peak - Superstitions
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    Morning hike out to Yellow Peak. This was my first time on the summit. The hike up is fairly straightforward. The only issues are all the foliage and loose rock. My going was relatively slow especially on the descent. The rest of the hike was uneventful.

    Parked at First Water Trailhead
    Backtracked to the Horse Lot
    Hackberry Trail
    Black Mesa Trail
    Yellow Peak
    Dutchman Trail
    First Water Trailhead

    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
    page created by CannondaleKid on Jan 22 2011 6:32 pm
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