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Red Hills Needle Canyon, AZ

Guide 15 Triplogs  2 Topics
  3 of 5 
189 15 2
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
View 1
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 13.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,290 feet
Elevation Gain 500 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,422 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.51
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
14  2022-01-22 ddgrunning
6  2018-10-13 chumley
20  2015-02-21 wallyfrack
50  2014-03-01
Dutchman Trail #104
20  2014-01-04 RowdyandMe
26  2013-02-04
Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
23  2010-01-05 snakemarks
30  2008-12-19 kanode
author avatar Guides 7
Routes 57
Photos 1,107
Trips 64 map ( 519 miles )
Age 74 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:41am - 7:22pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2020 Superstition Fire9.6k
🔥 2020 Sawtooth Fire24.7k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥

The other Needle Canyon
by kanode

This is a creekbed hike through Needle Canyon in the Red Hills. The hike starts at the First Water trailhead, heads south on the Dutchman trail, then east on the Boulder Canyon Trail to the entrance to Needle Canyon. The exit from Needle Canyon runs into the Bull Pass Trail which is used to return to the Dutchman trail and back to the First Water trailhead. This Needle Canyon has nothing to do with Weaver's Needle but is named for a white needle on the east side of the Boulder Canyon trail roughly halfway between the Bull Pass and Cavalry trails. It's the only obvious route headed east in the area.

The only route-finding challenge was picking up the point where the creek crosses the Bull Pass Trail. The creekbed is wide at that point and has two channels. On the first attempt, we went past the intersection. On backtracking, we found the trail and cairns hidden in tall grass but the trail was within 100 feet of where the GPS said it should be. If you are nearing a large tree (a cottonwood from the leaf color), you've gone too far.

This hike is great when water is flowing and the air temps are above 60 degrees. Without water, it would be a much easier hike but not worth the effort of the return over Bull Pass. If the temperature is much below 60, you'd try to keep your feet and calves dry which would mean fighting a lot of brush and scrambling on the sides of the canyon. When dry, this route could be used as an alternate backpacking return from Charlebois Spring. It would be longer but avoid the ascent and descent over Bull Pass. It took us an hour longer for the canyon half of the trip but more than half of that was spent taking pictures and looking around.

The Boulder Canyon segment hasn't seen much recent traffic and is somewhat overgrown. Hikers may be using the creekbed when it's dry rather than using the path on the benches.

According to Tom Kollenborn's Chronicles, a miner named Al Morrow lived and worked in this canyon for 19 years. No details are provided on the location of the mine and we didn't see any trace of it or any artifacts.

The start of Needle Canyon is not where it's shown on Topo maps. The early section starts about 500 feet north of the map location (north of the 2300' butte rather than south of it) and makes several big U-turns not shown on the map. From the point the canyon makes a major move south, the map is accurate. The side trails which loop in front of Red Hills Mtn 2073 and then head north to connect to the Cavalry trail were brushy and didn't seem worth the effort.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-12-22 kanode
    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.

    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 kanode on Dec 21 2008 10:33 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    prehydrate & stay hydrated

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