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Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop, AZ

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206 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 6.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,303 feet
Elevation Gain 900 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,380 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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35  2019-02-04
Massacre Falls Loop - First Water TH
89  2017-03-25 tibber
9  2017-03-25 writelots
8  2015-12-06 hikingaz2
21  2015-03-14
Massacre Falls Loop - Jacobs Crosscut
29  2015-02-13 kingsnake
50  2014-12-16 philnewell
Author philnewell
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 2
Photos 125
Trips 2 map ( 61 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Mostly Off Trail - Well worth it
by philnewell

Overview: This mostly off-trail loop hike will give you fantastic views of the Superstition Wilderness, Fours Peaks and a peek of Weavers Needle, a breathtaking drop-off at Massacre Grounds and beautiful water features if you are lucky enough to catch this hike a day or two after a major storm!

Hike: The hike follows the Dutchman Trail from First Water trailhead for half a mile until you reach the first wash crossing the trail. Turn right (SW) and head up the wash. A mile and a quarter later you will see the escarpment of Massacre Grounds. Head directly off-trail towards the right hand end, you will pick up the Massacre Grounds Trail. Follow this well trodden trail to the Massacre Grounds, which is a nice spot to take a break and take in the scenery. Keeping to the south side of the escarpment you will see Massacre Falls which may be flowing if it has stormed recently.

Where the Massacre Falls trail leaves the escarpment you can turn due east and drop down around the south side. There are the odd game trails to follow down to the wash. Follow the wash until you see a convenient place to get out and continue East.

Now we try to contour over open desert through various sharp vegetation, try to stay up high as there is less vegetation. There are a few small hoodoo's that are interesting to visit.

Eventually the terrain funnels you down into a small stream until eventually you will reach First Water creek. You will know when you reach it as it is a big wash as it enters the canyon. Don't get suckered into the low saddle about half a mile before Fist Water, it looks like a short cut, but trust me when I say it is no cake walk! I say this from experience..

Follow First Water down through beautiful slick rock, small canyons and a few pools. If it has recently rained hard you will be enriched with the cascading water through this creek, still very passable with water just a little more work. First Water ultimately connects with the Dutchman Trail for a nice easy walk back to First Water Trailhead.

First Water is one of my favorite hikes in the Sups, combine it with the views from Massacre Grounds and no crowds as it is off-trail and you have the perfect hike. If a winter storm comes through Phoenix, be sure to head out within a couple of days to get the max water effect, you will not be sorry.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2014-12-26 philnewell
    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
    Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wendy was in town and I had no one to play with so she obliged. From a hike earlier in the week she had witnessed some big storms passing over the Supes so she got waterfalls on her mind. Well the Supes don't have a lot of accessible water falls for me except thru pics (i.e. Reavis Falls) so we went thru several alternate ideas before she chose this one. She didn't want to face the throngs of people on the trails so this fit her bill.
    There wasn't a lot of beta on this hike but I put together all the other routes should we decide to deviate along the way. Let's just say the first third of the hike was amAZing and we had a great time on our way to Massacre Grounds. The middle third of the hike was certainly NOT a walk in the park let alone open desert. And the last third on the tributaries would have been fine if we hadn't just come thru the middle third :pout:

    So we started from the Horse Lot and from the Dutchman Trail took the first turn west into First Water Tributary 2947 (maybe should have done that Loop). We were delighted to see water right away. And water most of the rest of the way until we left the Tributary. There were lots of bedrock areas too and of course the flora was putting on a show. I can't tell you how delightfully surprised we were to be hiking in this tributary. The Brittlebush on the hillsides was nice along with the various rock formations. And believe it or not, two gals happened to catch and pass us. They were the only folks we would see until we got to the Massacre Falls Trail and after Massacre Grounds to Dutchman Trail.

    We took a short break in the shade by one of the many pools of water we had seen already. We were near the mouth of this canyon where the water dried up a bit and the going got a little tougher. We did see a trail go off to the left but it didn't seem like it was going the direction we wanted so we continued in the drainage for a while and we saw another trail go off to the left. I figured it was the horse trail as it would be hard for horses to walk up this tributary in places. We found the other side of that trail that headed west and decided since the drainage was being much more difficult we would use the trail. THAT was the right decision and I encourage others to do this instead of following the official route.

    We slinked around and toward Massacre Falls trail and sure enough we saw quite a few more people here. We had lunch on top of the Grounds and enjoyed our view far and wide. There was a lot of gold in them thar hills too. Little did we know, this would be the end of our joy today. So we followed the trail toward Massacre Falls before we came to our left hand turn on what looked like a trail; it ended pretty abruptly. We contoured for awhile and were worried about cliffing out as we needed to get across a deep drainage. However, cliffing out would NOT have been an issue and we should have continued and then crossed more where the route did that we were following. Once we got across we had to go thru so much brush to get to a somewhat clearer area to hike.

    I would say if you are going to follow the official route from Massacre Grounds, stick very close to it if you can; and that isn't easy but it does look a little clearer than what we did based on the satellite photo. A little ways later we hooked back on to the official route and pretty much stuck to it. We still hit many walls of trees, brush or cactus that we would have to wander a bit to find the path of least resistance. I felt like we were "wallyfracking" there for a bit. I don't know how he does that without wearing out much sooner.

    All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't hot as this cross desert trek wasn't easy; especially when we had to push thru brush uphill : rambo : . And of course, it is snake season so Wendy managed to scare up two rattlers. One was rather docile and stayed under a bush while the other one we would find, just before dipping into a drainage, went on and on. It decided to slither down where we were going so we had a little detour.

    Once into the drainage we took a much needed break. We wondered what open desert really meant because this didn't feel like it. Now mind you, I told Wendy I didn't think we'd be out more than 4 hours. It was now 3PM, we started a little after 8:30. Well it took us four hours just to top out at Massacre Grounds via the Tributary. OOPS! And we still have 4 miles to go with 3 of those miles thru these two drainages/tributaries. So off we went; rather glad to be in the tributary and out of the so-called open desert. The drainage/tributaries had its challenges too with all the water, the downclimbs, the filling up with bushes and such but it had its open times where you could breath normally for about 5 minutes.

    This side didn't have as much water as the first tributary but there was one section where the pools were deep and big. Getting around them caused us to have to figure out the best route and sometimes we both would do it differently. I tried to film as much as possible but there was a lot of time the camera stayed tucked away. We finally arrived at the First Water Falls [ photo ] I had last been to with snakemarks back in 2009. It was dry and the little pool had very little water in it. I knew we would run into some catclaw as we made it back toward the Dutchman Trail but it wasn't too bad. And then as we got closer to the Dutchman we had to negotiate a lot more water so we veered right. Soon enough we finally hit the trail; it felt so good!

    We ran into two snake hunters near the junction with First Water. They had seen gila monsters earlier in the day. We finally made it back to Tonto Jr and then went and had dinner on the patio at Mammoth SteakHouse. Thx to Wendy for leading us through that; it made it easier for me so I didn't have to think as much. For example, she said to me when we were in the middle of this trying to guesstimate where we needed to go further ahead, "See that saguaro out there"... I did; it was pretty far away. A little while later I asked Wendy, "where is that saguaro". She hesitated and I looked next to me and there it was ](*,) :lol: .

    Yep, the Supes proved their might once again but once again, we survived, altho our bruised and punctured legs might beg otherwise. (We were wearing pants.) Film at 11.

    4-28-2017 Enjoy!
    Part 1 - Horse Lot to starting up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
    Part 2 - hiking in the Tributary [ youtube video ]
    Part 3 - yep, still going up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
    Part 4 - finishing off the Tributary to the horse trail [ youtube video ]
    Part 5 - up to Massacre Grounds and behind [ youtube video ]
    Part 6 - back of Massacre to HooDoo Land [ youtube video ] and it twasn't easy
    Part 7 - to Upper First Water Creek [ youtube video ]
    Part 8 - First Water Creek hiking continued [ youtube video ]
    Part 9 - finishing off the creek and back to the TH [ youtube video ]
    Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Massacre Falls Loop - Jacobs Crosscut
    I'm recovering from a cold and wanted a hike that wouldn't result in too much heavy breathing. This was the ticket. Starting at Jacobs Crosscut TH on FW Road, I cobbled together a couple of HAZ routes and followed some other unnamed routes to and from the massacre grounds area near Massacre Falls.

    I didn't know I was fond of hiking in creeks (when they're mostly dry,anyway), but I've been on a couple of loop hikes along creeks in this area and enjoyed them quite a bit. This was no exception. The tributary creek that I followed towards the massacre grounds had some nice pools of water and some light flow in places. Quite a few wild flowers all along the creek. I have read that cat claw is bad in this area. I didn't have that problem, but I stayed in the creek bed throughout. It was an enjoyable stretch.

    After a mile and a quarter or so, you come to a junction with a horse trail that eventually connects with the Massacre Falls trail. I took this route up to the cliffs ("Massacre Ramp"). I spent some time viewing the massacre grounds (or at least the area labeled on maps as the massacre grounds) from the cliffs above. The views to the east from the cliffs are excellent. When I finished exploring along the cliffs, I followed a cairned route cross country to the fins, stopped at one to have lunch, then completed my loop back to Jacobs's Crosscut on the route called Silverlock Prospect in Carlson/Stewart's Superstitions West book (trip 41). While having lunch, I met a nice couple, Sarah and Rob, from Apache Junction out hiking near the fins. They accompanied me the rest of the way back.

    We took a side trip about a mile or so from CC trailhead, departing the trail to the north along a small plateau, then dropping down the east side into a lush lower area heading towards the CC trail. I call this lower area from Weeks Wash up to the plateau the granny trail, because that's where I take my 80 year old mother when she comes to visit. Very pretty and tame along this section.

    Nice, easy pace. Gorgeous day out. Had a blast. Another beautiful day in paradise!
    Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Hiked from the Massacre Falls TH up to the fence. Instead of going through, I turned left along a very old jeep trail. After a little over two miles, just short of the horse lot, the jeep trail petered out. Looked around for a few minutes, but gave up, paralleling a wash for a few hundred yards until I picked up the horse trail between the lot and the First Water TH. Saw three ladies there, setting out on a hike, one of whom I thought might be tibber. I didn't say anything because I wasn't sure, and didn't want to be a doofus if it wasn't. :D

    Followed 104 for the half mile, then turned up the unnamed creek / canyon off First Water. That creek had steady flow it's entire length, with some nice pools. Enough that I got my feet wet a few times as I weaved my way back and forth across the creek. GPS indicated there was a trail, but I never saw it. Brush was heavy and stabby enough that the easiest route was either on the edge of the water, or straight up the middle, depending on pool depth, available stepping rocks, and obstructing boulders. Scrambling was negligible, but it was slow going, and I had my best sweat of the day. As the canyon began opening up, I crossed a cairned horse trail. Left went back towards the canyon. (There may be a trail back, but I did not follow it.) Right turned up the slope towards the official Massacre Falls Trail.

    As I hiked up the official trail towards the mesa overlooking Massacre Grounds, I passed several returning groups. I was first out earlier in the morning, but obviously had taken a less direct route to the Falls. The upside was that I had the Falls all to myself. :y:

    I got there a little after noon, and wanted to be back at the TH by 1:00 p.m., but just could not bring myself to cut my visit short. It was my first time and the water was flowing pretty good. (Though by no means heavy.) I sat up on the shelf next to the Falls. The wall fit my back perfect, so I could lean back and enjoy the soothing sound, and enjoy the scenery, while eating my energy bar and vinegar chips. When the breeze shifted, I'd catch a little spray. It was so peaceful and relaxing, that I laid down for a few minutes nap. :zzz:

    I finally departed about 12:45 p.m. Unfortunately, the Falls immediate vicinity is the only real shade on the hike. The 2.5 miles back to the trailhead were quite toasty. Still, I was feeling peppy, so where the trail surface was obstacle free, and either flat or slightly down hill, I jogged. (I was flashing back to Ft. Bragg ruck runs.) : rambo : :lol:

    Hike Video :

    Brittlebrush were beginning to bloom. Saw a few globe mallow, and other things I could not identify.

    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 philnewell on Dec 26 2014 5:17 pm
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