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Black Top Mesa, AZ

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Guide 134 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.9 of 5 by 35
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 11.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,300 feet
Elevation Gain 1,006 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,558 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.19
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2019-09-12
Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
13  2018-12-01
Black Top Mesa Plus
7  2018-11-18 Daytripper
23  2018-02-03
Aylor's Arch
7  2018-01-11
Aylor's Arch and Black Top Mesa
27  2018-01-07 adilling
14  2017-12-28 rayhuston
18  2017-12-28
Black Mesa Dutchman Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 12
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,812
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:31pm
Official Route
17 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Superstition Triangle
by joebartels

FW Trailhead - 4.5 miles on the Dutchman Trail to Bull Pass junction. Follow Bull Pass Trail 0.6 miles to Bull Pass Saddle. Follow faint trail 0.6 miles to top of Black Top Mesa. Return same route.

Atop Black Top Mesa are some of the best overhead views of the western Superstitions. This is a pretty straight forward out and back hike. The trail starts at First Water Trailhead. Follow the Dutchman Trail for 4.5 miles to the Bull Pass junction. Turn left onto Bull Pass Trail. The trail crosses a creek bed immediately and is slightly overgrown. Without much ado the trail heads up 467 feet to Bull Pass Saddle. On the saddle you will see a "use" trail heading up to the right. This is the route you need to ascend Black Top Mesa. It's another 571 feet to the top.

From the Dutchman/Black Mesa junction to the top is about 1.2 miles. The ascent may seem steep due to fatigue from the previous 4 miles. It's really not too bad. The average grade of the ascent is approximately 18 degrees. For reference Camelback is steeper with an average grade of 23 degrees.

The Spanish Hieroglyphics are the main draw to the area. They're somewhere on the black rocks that line the southwest edge. I didn't see them. Then again I didn't look very thorough. I'd been excited to hike up the mesa all summer after looking at the 3D topos. The trail doesn't seem to get much mention anywhere. When it does get mentioned it's all about the hieroglyphics. My thoughts from the get go was the views would be incredible in all directions. They were pretty darn good all around. You might not be as excited if you don't know the area. The top is like a big slanted wheat field. I didn't see any campsites for the record. If that's your thing I'm sure you could make do in a couple places. I'd forget a campfire though! ( too much tall grass ) There isn't a high point with 360 views so you'll need to roam around. My photos include many of the views. Included is a head on view of the popular Weavers Needle. Check 'em out!

The weather was very warm for late October in the low 90's. When it cools down I'm sure I'll be back. A great alternative on the return would be Boulder Canyon Trail. This would add a few miles. Probably worth the extra effort if it's cool outside!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2001-10-20 joebartels
    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 43 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Black Top Mesa
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Including myself, there were 7 intrepid hikers from a meetup group that began hiking at the First Water TH, and we did an out-and-back hike to Aylor's Arch and Black Top Mesa. We went out on the Dutchman Trail #104, and after about 5 miles or so, just past the turnoff to the Boulder Canyon trail, the trail went through a wash. Instead of continuing on the Dutchman Trail, we took a right in the wash and hiked through the wash for a half mile or so, until Aylor's Arch came into view off to the left. Then we followed a social trail up to a saddle just to the right of Aylor's Arch. Then we went to just below Aylor's Arch, and said what the heck, let's go up on Aylor's Arch. It was cool being up there, and the views were awesome. However, if you have a fear of heights, you may not want to to up to the top of the Arch.

    We then reversed our course until we got back to the wash. Then when we got to the Dutchman Trail, we took a right from out of the wash. We didn't go too far, until we took the Bull Pass trail to the left. We then began ascending, and when we got to the base of Black Top Mesa, we took a trail to the right up to the top of Black Top Mesa. There were some cool views on top of the mesa -- Weaver's Needle was right in front of us, and I was able to recognize Superstition Peak 5057, Black Mountain, Peter's Mesa, among other landmarks. While on the mesa, not too far from the Sunburst Petroglyph, we came across a geocache container, which was the first one of those that I had found.

    Once we descended from Black Top Mesa, we took the Bullpass trail back to the Dutchman Trail, and from there went back to the trailhead. It was a warm afternoon, and one of the hikers commented that the 5 miles or so that we went back on the Dutchman trail seemed like a 100 mile death march. While that may have smacked of hyperbole, I certainly did not argue with her!
    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Solo workout hike on a Saturday. Saw Wally near Hackberry Spring & chatted for a few. Continued the loop and topped out on Black Top Mesa where I talked to a fella from Alberta that is a snowbird. He wasn't familiar with the glyphs so I showed him them & told him about Jack Carlson's books. We had a nice chat and then I started my return. Nice day out.

    Hackberry Spring :next: Black Mesa :next: Bull Pass :next: Black Top Mesa :next: Bull Pass :next: Dutchman
    Black Top Mesa
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Aylor's Arch and Black Top Mesa
    This 16 mile, 3300' AEG hike has some diverse hiking trails that offer a bit of everything: some relatively flat trails that you can get a good workout hike on; off trail scrambling; boulder hopping; rock climbing; steep ascents/descents; and lots of nice views throughout.

    Tracie, my intrepid hiking partner, and I started this hike from the First Water TH at the end of First Water Road. We proceeded along the Dutchman Trail #104, stopping to take side trips to Aylor's Arch and Black Top Mesa. Once we got back down Black Top Mesa, we proceeded to take a "Loop to Nowhere" that went on the Lost Black Top Mesa trail and the Bull Pass trail. After completing the loop, we retraced our steps back to the TH.

    The hike up Aylor's Arch was cool, and views from atop Black Top Mesa were really nice -- there is a great view of Weaver's Needle from there. Whle on the Mesa, we came across the "sunburst" petroglyph on the SE corner of the mesa.

    I'll probably do this hike again, but I think that I will pass on the "Loop to Nowhere" next time. It adds some distance and AEG to the hike, but unless it was wildflower blooming season, the loop doesn't really do much for me.
    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Aylor Arch - Black Top and Black Mesa
    We arrived to the Trailhead in the predawn darkness with our headlights hitting 5 or so people in sleeping bags laid out right in the parking lot. Now that's campin'! There were also 2 hunters getting ready to go out.

    We hit the trails in the upper 30's and never saw another sole all day. I was beginning to think they'd closed the wilderness and we did not get the memo.

    On the Dutchman #104, over Sting Ray Pass, Parker Pass, and then Scorpion Pincher Rock for a photo Op.

    The climb up to Palomino Mountain was more well defined than I remembered. Once up top I dropped down to the area of Aylors Arch to check it out. The area up top here is interesting to check out, and the views don't suck at all.

    Black Top Mesa was up next up. We took the mandatory spin to the south end to look for the Sun, Gold and The End. Successful on all 3, plus a compass.

    Ray had never seen and Joe wouldn't stop talking about it, so we had to sample the Lost Black Top Mesa Trail.

    Now on our way back and taking the Black Mesa Trail #241. We took a short/long cut to the Second Water Trail #236. Joe pointed out that @tibber had done this canyon. I'm impressed, as there was one steep drop (with water) that was a little slippery/loose.

    The Second Water Trail #236 is a super highway all the way back.

    Musta been the perfect weather that scared everyone away from the trails...on a Saturday..

    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Aylor Arch - Black Top and Black Mesa
    Any one of the longer hikes would have been good, but why do one when you can do three or four while you're in the area. Classic Bruce.

    I haven't been to BTM or Aylor's Arch for some time. The trails for both were easier to follow than I remember. The top of Palomino Mtn is a beautiful area. My first trip up there must have been in the spring because I remember a lot of green grass near the top, almost like a park setting. The cliff on the east side overlooking the Dutchman trail makes your stomach drop.

    Black Top Mesa has some of the best views in the area. Overcast skies dampened the views just a bit, but still awesome. We hit the main attractions. I hadn't seen the rock with "The End" etched in it, I think from the movie crew that filmed "Lust for Gold." I mentioned that as we approached the south end. Right on queue, Bruce popped up, "You mean that one?" How could I have missed it? We didn't stay long; brisk winds sent us back down the trail a bit where we found a spot out of the wind. Time for lunch.

    Lost Black Top Mesa trail was new. It was a decent trail for something that I didn't know existed. It terminates at the Dutchman trail, which we used to loop back to the Bull Pass trail.

    We finished the hike on the Black Mesa and Second Water trails with an off trail down a canyon connecting Black Mesa and Second Water trails. The shortcut probably took longer than if we had stayed on trails, but it had a couple of cool spots worth seeing.

    This was a great hike with a nice breeze and cool temps under mostly cloudy skies. The sun finally appeared as we were finishing up on Second water. We didn't see a single person on the trails today. There were a few people in sleeping bags when we arrived and two guys getting ready to start a hike when we finished. Holiday shopping must be going very well this year.

    Back to back outings with Bruce and Joe is making this a great holiday season for me. Thanks again for a fun day! I suppose I need to get out and do some shopping too.
    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Aylor Arch - Black Top and Black Mesa
    Not 1 hiker witnessed on trail the entire hike on the 3rd Sat of Dec... perfect weather in a world class wilderness.

    Oldies but goodies. Still love the views atop Palomino. Slow coming down the loose trail down. With my balance a few notches below drunken sailor, Ray helped every step back down. Thx! This helped me get in tune for Denny's year end Safety First Hike.

    BTM is always a great destination day or night. Ray played the role of Sir Wally and filled us in on the story of The End rock art.

    Bruce had a little loop with Lost BTM Trail and Bull Pass that I could do without. Yet made up for it with a little off trail coming down Black Mesa which I noticed Tibber tackled once! Definitely worth a gander.

    Another fab hike in one of my favorite areas.
    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Full moon!
    The weather cooled to the point that I figured I could go to the Supes and survive. I was right! :y:

    72 to start, and 64 at the end. Might have even felt a 50-something in a couple of the valleys. The high spots were the warmest. I never actually got cold, but I was almost regretting not bringing a long-sleeve shirt. I hope this means summer is almost over! :)

    No snakes, which I don't mind, but had I known that I would have skipped the headlamp and hiked by moonlight alone. One large, healthy, and curious grey fox was the highlight encounter on the night.

    I miss the Supes! :)
    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Great Hike up to Black Top Mesa again, it had been quite awhile since we had been up there. Thought we'd just take our time and look around to see how many Petroglyphs and Autographs we could spot. The Autographs won out, but the 360 views were what we were really after, and we were not disappointed. :y: An interesting article about Barry Storm can be viewed here. superstitionmountai ... html
    Would be great spot to campout under starry skies !!! Think I'll suggest that on a warm summer evening !!
    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I was up on Black Top Mesa a couple years ago and not much, if anything, has changed atop the mesa. However, it’s a fun hike and the last ‘re-hab hike’ for Mike, the bionic hip guy. (He’s only in Az in January).
    It’s amazing to me that he can hike this far, with this kind of AEG, after having his 2nd hip replacement just three months ago. Good for him.

    As many know, the Dutchman and Bull Pass Trails are very nice trails, with only the Black Top Mesa Trail a bit more challenging. The BTM Tr is where most of the AEG comes from, with the trail obviously getting a bit steeper and rockier until atop the mesa. The fact that you transition from desert trail to ‘dirt’ trail going up BTM Tr is an interesting anomaly.

    I showed Mike around the top of BTM, including the petroglyphs (or Mexican glyphs) and, what I call ‘graffiti’ glyphs. He was amazed at the huge crop of prickly pear cactus up there, along with the various types of grasses. Photo ops are great in all directions also.

    After lunch on BTM, we retraced our steps back to First Water TH, instead of looping back on Black Mesa Tr. The bionic hip guy had time constraints and the Dutchman Tr is a bit quicker.

    Other than a group of about 10 backpackers (out for their 3rd day), we encountered few hikers. I’m sure that will change as daylight increases and the morning temps increase.
    Black Top Mesa
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    having spent the night at lost dutchman state park, and having the entire day to hike, i wanted something a little longer than the group choice of siphon draw
    black top mesa offers great views of weaver's needle and the surrounding superstition landmarks
    got started on dutchman trail about 8:00 with cool enough temps and some cloud cover
    hit bull pass trail and then up to the top from the saddle
    spent a few minutes looking around
    continued east on bull pass trail to take dutchman trail around all of black top mesa
    all of this additional three or four miles is a bit overgrown
    I like the section of dutchman's between palomino and black top mesa
    thought about finishing on black mesa loop, but john and I did an out-and-back on it earlier this year, and it's not my favorite trail
    returned on dutchman's even though I usually prefer a loop
    saw maybe a dozen people along the way, and no one near black top mesa
    had decent cloud cover until the last few minutes
    nice to be out in the supes again

    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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