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From the Peralta Trailhead - East on the Dutchman Trail #104 2.6 miles to the junction with Coffee Flat Trail #108. Continue up on Dutchman 1.6 miles to Whiskey Spring Trail #238. Turn right onto Whiskey Spring Trail and follow 1.8 miles to the Red Tanks Trail #107. Turn left onto Red Tanks Trail and follow 2.0 miles to the Dutchman Trail. Turn left and head back on the Dutchman Trail for 2.3 miles to Bluff Springs Trail #235. Turn right onto Bluff Springs Trail and follow 1.0 mile to the Terrapin Trail #234 junction. Continue on Bluff Springs Trail 2.1 miles back to the Trailhead.
November 5th 2001, finally, a day below 85 presented itself. This was a breezy, overcast day making it all the better. From the Peralta Trailhead, I bolted out on the Dutchman. It's four miles to the Whiskey Spring junction just after Miners Needle. It's pretty tough to put the full Red Tanks Trail in a day hike, so I broke it up. Here I'm checking out the Whiskey Springs Trail for the first time and the west quarter of Red Tanks Trail.
The first section of the Whiskey Spring Trail is easy and open. There's a nice view of a Saguaro lined slope. I didn't get a photo, but next, you pass some interesting slabs of slanting rock. They're barely covered with maybe an inch of earth. In a short distance is your first glimpse down into Whiskey Spring Canyon. Midway down into the canyon, I start thinking... wow, this is amazing such a distant trail isn't overgrown. Not a minute later did I meet the prickly pair gauntlet. I can tell you now, the trail is overgrown all the way from here back to the Dutchman. A few steps after the gauntlet is a very healthy patch of Chain Fruit Chollas. The excitement continued a few minutes later when I nearly stepped on rattler. I didn't hear him say nanny nanny boo boo, but he did stick his tongue out at me. The trail continues to drop down to La Barge Canyon. I was surprised to find so much vegetation. There were some lush spots and great looking camping areas too. Even some wildflowers in November kept the place cheery. You come down close to La Barge Creek. Suddenly the trail shoots off to the east. I'm not sure why. It seems like it would be easier to continue down the canyon. There must be a tricky waterfall in there or something. You get your first views of La Barge Canyon fanning out west and east. Continue down to La Barge Creek and cross where you'll soon find the Red Tanks Junction. I'll have to admit the views east (Upper La Barge Box) were more inviting than to the west where I was headed. If you wish to loop east, it's 18.9 miles out and back from the Peralta Trailhead. I think I'll wait until a low seventy-degree day before attempting that puppy. My longest trail to date was the Charlebois from First Water at 18.2 miles. That was tough last March, but I think I'm in better shape now.
Continue left / west on the Red Tanks Trail. I didn't find this as interesting as Whiskey Springs Canyon. Maybe it was because I was constantly annoyed by the catclaw and finding the trail. It isn't really tough to find the trail, but you do need to stay alert. There are several creek crossings. One of which I swear goes backward. The main interest along the way is Trap Canyon to the east. According to Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness, there are several trails into Trap Canyon. I read this after getting home, but I don't recall seeing any. I did zoom in on one of the three caves. If you had an early start, I think this would be a worthy side trip. Continue to the Dutchman Trail. There is one rather nice creek crossing along the way. Just before hooking up with the Dutchman, you cross the mini oasis around La Barge Spring. Although this area is lush, there are better camping sites in Whiskey Springs Canyon further back and further on past Charlebois ( not passed on this loop )Take the Dutchman left / south back to the Bluff Springs Trail. It's 2.3 miles on the Dutch. One mile on Bluff to the Terrapin junction and continue on 2.1 miles more on the Bluff back to the trailhead.
I dubbed this loop best described as... Blood Bath. Don't worry; it's not that bad. I had a minor misfortune along the way in La Barge Canyon. A high branch of catclaw slapped me in the face on a backlash. There was a lot of blood loss. I was more concerned about passing somebody and what they might think. Luckily that never happened. In fact, I didn't see anybody the whole day except a ranger cleaning the restrooms in the morning.
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