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Terrapin Trail #234, AZ

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Guide 182 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.4 of 5 by 34
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,160 feet
Elevation Gain 783 feet
Accumulated Gain 790 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.63
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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6  2019-03-05
Weaver's Needle Crosscut
16  2019-03-01
Cave-Weaver's Crosscut-Bluff Springs
21  2019-02-23
Bluff Spring Mountain Loop
18  2019-02-23
Bluff Spring Mountain Loop
20  2019-01-16
Harnish Camp
24  2019-01-13
Weavers Needle Upper Loop
7  2019-01-06
Bluff Springs Trail #235
8  2019-01-05
Bluff Springs Trail #235
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 14
Author Tim
author avatar Guides 10
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 356 map ( 2,719 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Any
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
34 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by Tim

Trail data given is only for Terrapin Trail #234 itself. The hike described here is the popular loop. Check out Weavers Needle Loop for complete loop distance & stats.

Terrapin trail is part of a 12.9 mile loop per the GPS unit that starts from Peralta Trailhead and circumnavigates Weaver's Needle. The entire trip is just under 6 hours which allows for plenty of stops to rubber neck and enjoy the views. As the series of trails are well maintained, route finding is not an issue except for in some short stretches.

The trip begins as you leave Peralta Trailhead on Dutchman's Trial for a hundred yards to the Bluff Springs Trail turn off. Take Bluff Springs Trail up over the ridge and follow it down Barks Canyon. A quick note regarding the topo maps. On the topo maps, they label the trail up Barks Canyon as Dutchman's trail but the trail markers call it Bluff Springs. Furthermore, while the actual trail markers call it Terrapin Trail, it is labeled Needle Trail and Needle Cutoff Trail on the topo map. It's all the same trail, just don't let the different names confuse you. After about an hour on Bluff Springs Trail you will come to the Terrapin Trail cut off. The intersection is well signed and Terrapin Trail heads west across the wash and up the canyon to Bluff Saddle. This trail is not well cairned, (it doesn't need to be in most spots), and it is easy to get off trail on this climb if you're not paying attention. As long as you keep heading up, you should be just fine. After Bluff Saddle you head north through a valley like area that is surrounded by miniature hoodoos on either side. After this point the trail begins to descend down into Needle Canyon and the vegetation and cat claw get much thicker. While the trail is by no means overgrown, the cat claw will scratch you up if you try "beat feet" through it. As one proceeds north/northwest up this canyon you will be afforded stunning views of Weavers Needle to the west. As you past Weavers Needle, the trail begins to climb up to Terrapin Pass.

Terrapin Pass is more of a saddle than a pass, but it grants you great views of the surrounding terrain. The view northwest is of Blacktop Mesa, Palomino Mountain and Black Mesa off in the distance. Of course, Weavers Needle is to the south. Looking down the trail directly to the north you can clearly see where the tail is heading down the canyon to the intersection with the Dutchman Trail. Even further north of this intersection you can make out the area, (on a clear day), where the Dutchman Trail intersects the Bull Pass Trail. Be careful going down the north slope of Terrapin Pass as the trail is dominated by loose rock and scree. To your right in the eastern wall of the canyon, you can make out where several mines were located. Eventually the trail levels out as it follows the creek bed due north. Along this wash you will notice the remains of a stone wall which formed some sort of a catch basin for run off. The intersection of Terrapin and Dutchman Trail is clearly signed and heading west on this will take you over a saddle at the base of Black Top Mesa and down to Boulder Canyon. From the top of this saddle you get a clear view of the Peralta Tail heading up the west side of Boulder Canyon and back to Freemont Saddle, the Peralta Trailhead, and home. The trail intersection of Dutchman and Peralta Trail is clearly signed and just west of the wash at the bottom of Boulder Canyon.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2002-11-07 Tim

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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 40 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    What a great weekend of backpacking! I don't think I've ever seen so much water in the Superstitions. My group of 4 started from Peralta Trailhead onto Bluff Springs on Saturday morning, making it up Cardiac Hill in pretty good time. We saw water flowing down the trail in a few spots and knew we were in for a lovely trip. Tons of water at the bottom of Barks Canyon. Then we headed up Terrapin, which we wanted to revisit because our first experience of it was on our first ever backpacking trip — a hot and cloudless day in which that trail felt endless. I highly recommend coming down, not up, this one! Views were awesome with lots of big clouds, some of them looking a little stormy but never quite intersecting our path. We then headed onto Dutchman #104, a stretch that was new to us. We intended to scope out Charlebois and then camp farther on but in the end we peeked around and then missed the turnoff for it. :lol: Oh well, we'll see it next time.

    So far, none of the creek crossings were anything to sweat. Not so on the next 7. The first, just past Charlebois was the widest bit of water I've ever seen in the Superstitions. We all had opted to leave our camp shoes behind to allow for warmer layers (we reasoned we would be too cold to wear our sandals at camp) which we realized was a big mistake. We ended up crossing this creek, and the next few, barefoot. :scared: It was cold but the sharp rocks were worse. Some of the crossings were deeper than you could see bottom of, others had strong currents. And all of them had some stepping stones, but nothing anywhere near resembling a path you could hop across. Sometimes looking across to where the cairn showed the trail picked back up was just hilarious. :) Lesson learned. We found a great campsite on this stretch and warmed up with hot food and some strong cocktails after over 9 miles of hiking and negotiating cold creek crossings. We were beat.

    Sunday morning hike out was beautiful. We were worried we would see rain but it was a really nice day. We finished Dutchman back over to Bluff Springs. In the crook of Barks Canyon, on the way out, there is a little cairn and trail leading up...anyone know where that goes? Anyway, we continued up out and in good time, still enjoying all the water along the way and the views up on the bluffs. I added a couple water reports. Unfortunately we had to switch between devices on the way and some data got lost. But basically, it's all flowing. Almost all the creek beds we walked through had flow. :lol: Really great trip overall.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Bluff Springs, Dutchman, Terrapin Loop
    Bluff Springs and Dutchman to Charlebois Spring, then Dutchman to Terrapin to Bluff Springs out (~15 miles). It was a nice, cool hike in on Saturday. No hurry, no worry, just a nice stroll in with great views of the mountains. It was pretty easy on the feet, and once we hit the Dutchman Trail at Crystal Spring (very low) we left other hikers behind on the shorter loop trails. There was a party camped at La Barge Canyon, but we ended up having Charlebois Spring (high output and deep pool, as usual) all to ourselves.
    The rain started right on schedule about 2000 on Saturday and continued for 12 hours, until just after we broke camp and started out on the Dutchman. One of my hiking partners, who shall remain nameless, chose the route out. This was after I told him "please, as flat as possible." His skill for choosing the opposite of that, and a grueling hike out will not go unrewarded at some future date. :x
    With all the rain the washes were flowing, waterfalls were flowing out of the walls, and the trails were flowing. It was an incredible hike to the tailhead (except for the straight uphill that never ended). :lol: I can definitely see why you would want to do Terrapin from THE OTHER END. Weaver's Needle [ photo ] was enshrouded in an ever-changing robe of mist, dewdrops the size of marbles clung to grasses at the side of the trail, and the sound of rushing water accompanied much of my solitary trek up and over the Terrapin Trail. My treks are often solitary, even when hiking in a group, because my pace can be best described as glacier-like.
    I arrived at the Terrapin/Bluff Springs junction about 1/2 hour after the rest of the group had continued down Bluff Springs. All was good until coming out at the Peralta trailhead at around 1445. Shep met me at the trailhead and asked if I had seen Mark (name changed to protect the possibly embarrassed). Being the last one out, I SHOULD have seen Mark. Shep had last seen him on the downhill after the Terrapin junction. We decided that Shep should hike back in to see if he could find Mark, while I held down the fort at the trailhead. As hikers returned from the Bluff Springs trail they stopped to talk to me, letting me know that Shep was on the trail asking after our missing hiker. No one had seen Mark. When Shep returned around 1730 we decided to call for help. We hadn't been on this trail before, Mark had not responded to Shep calling for him, the washes were running pretty good, and we didn't want to leave Mark out all night when we didn't know if he had gotten turned around or could be hurt. We left a note on Mark’s car, then drove out a ways to get a signal, and Shep called 911. The dirt portion of Peralta Road was horrendous, and we conducted some of the drive sideways in my Outback. After talking to 911 we decided to head out to the first warm looking location we could find to await a call back from the Sheriff.
    The Sheriff did a lot to ease our minds about the fate of Mark. When hearing that we had not hiked Bluff Springs before, the Sheriff was confident that Mark had taken a wrong turn down Barks Canyon. This did a lot to ease my mind, as I tend to imagine the worst.
    Shep and I did a lot of waiting, eating, drinking of coffee, and worrying as the search was organized. At around 2000, we called the Sheriff to get a status report. He told us that a helicopter was being deployed and the searchers were starting up the trail. At around 2200, the Sheriff called to report Mark found, and back at the trailhead. It would be the next day before I heard the rest of the story.
    Mark reported that he had indeed gotten off trail, due to some cairns that mislead a hiker into Barks Canyon. Since there is no trail there, I’d like to know WTF people are doing placing cairns at this critical juncture. Not having seen them, this is all I’m going to say.
    Mark did realize that he was off trail and set up camp as darkness fell. He was warm, cozy, and asleep when the helicopter woke him, and was not able to get outside his tent soon enough to get their attention on the first pass. The second pass saw Mark found and brought out, but the story gets a bit more interesting.
    Mark reports that the rescuers told him that sometime during their search for him they found a day hiker who had also gotten off trail, was not equipped to spend the night out, and had not reported that he was going to be out on the trail to anyone. This hiker was cold and wet, and was rescued by the helicopter that was deployed to find Mark. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what might have been the day hiker’s fate if Mark had not also gotten off trail that day.
    Lessons learned: 1. Don’t let “X” plan your hike out if you have decided to change plans mid-backpack.
    2. Hike with a buddy (DUH!)
    3. You never know if your rescue might save someone else’s life.

    There were sparse wildflowers, believe it or not! I definitely saw Globemallow, and one California Poppy.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    been wanting to get out in the supes lately, and this loop has been on my list for a repeat
    denny, john and i set out just before 0700
    went clockwise, to avoid later crowds on peralta and ascend the loose rock on terrapin
    have only been on the northern part of peralta trail and terrapin once
    most of peralta seemed familiar, but much of terrapin did not
    cool to start with
    took a break along the short segment of dutchman
    very pleasant scenery and temps throughout the hike
    started seeing a few people once on bluff springs trail
    finished just before noon to a packed parking lot
    very little water out there
    nice to be out with the boys again :)
    denny and john sprang for street tacos at mi casita in chandler - yum!
    good times

    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Classic loop after a day of rain. Too bad there were only a few small pools here and there, nothing much. Didnt see anyone at all on the way to Fremont. Actually didnt see anyone until I got on the Terrapin trail. This was my first time hiking the Terrapin and I liked it. It was a nice challenge and a different perspective. My favorite part of the hike was right around Bluff Saddle. It was a strange flat rocky area unlike any of the hike previously. Almost out of this world looking. Good to be in the Supes.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Of the many big loops from the Peralta trailhead, this is one of my favorites. Big views with a nice blend of Sonoran desert and raparian oases (springs) along the way.

    We hit the trail at first light with a bit of a chill and a nice breeze, just enough to keep the layers on. Joe took us up Cardiac Hill at a brisk pace. We breezed along the rest of Bluff Springs trail in mostly shadows. We arrived at Dutchman greeted by bright sunshine. Time to lose a layer. We took a few side trips along Dutchman to check out the springs. By the time we hit Terrapin Pass, the breeze was gone, the sun was warm and the rest of the layers were off.

    I haven't seen any water on recent hikes, but three of the more reliable springs were true to form: Bluff, LaBarge and Charlebois Springs all had good water to filter. The only backpackers we saw were at LaBarge Spring. We saw them again just before arriving back at Peralta. We didn't see any hikers all day. Very surprising on such a gorgeous day.

    Overall, a sensational (dare I say typical) fall day in the Supes. Hiking with Joe and Bruce again made it all the more special. It was great hiking with you again! Thanks for driving, Bruce.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Perfect day to get back out in the Supes. 39 for a start and into the low 70's for a high.

    The start on Cardiac Hill always gets you woken up quickly. I always love doing this area as the sun is rising. This time of year the low sun makes the shadows pop.

    Stopped at Bluff Spring for the first time. Seems quite reliable.

    At the LaBarge Spring, there were 2 groups camping. Two ladies in one site and a group of 10 or so college aged ladies. Fall was popping with the Sycamores and Cottonwoods in the area.

    Charliebois Spring are was next. Love this area. Shocked to see nobody in the area.

    The climb up Terrapin is still a steep and loose one. Where the other trails we'd been on so far today had seen some recent love, Terrapin could use some.

    A fun day!

    Good hikin' with Ray again, it's been too long.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    The two months of cool weather is upon us! Hiking less miles allowed us to adventure and explore a few areas. Rolling just before sunrise at a chilly 40 with odd warm pockets heading up Cardiac Hill.

    Not sure where Crystal Spring is exactly. The water reports are typically about the area, nary
    a photo has yet to be linked. Always thought it was in the creek. Ray pointed out a pipe just off trail out of the creek. With no catch or signs of water past or present I'm still clueless.

    The little side trip to Bluff Spring may have been a first for myself. Decent trail. Lots of cholla may not be great for dogs. Tunnel thick just before the spring which was flowing nice.

    2 ladies camping just before LaBarge Spring then a group of college girls closer to the spring and a couple near the end was the grand total in perfect weather for this world class destination. Wave Cave & Peralta looked to take the weekend warrior blow and leave the majority of the wilderness lightly traveled.

    My first hike over to Terrapin decades ago left a lasting impression passing an older guy. The 70-80 year old man mentioned how he'd been hiking the area for fifty years among more info than my young ears could digest. After a good twenty years I'm still impressed with the topography, lore and mystique. Should be enough to pique my interest for another thirty years.

    32 oz water. Tougher terrain than the PCT last week where 24 oz sufficed for 18.4 mi.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Another Bluff Mountain summit today. However, this time I was able to cross the route down to Terrapin off my list after hitting the summit. I hit the trails with Carrie, John and a couple of other friends from the dreaded social media site Instagram. Kyle accompanied us to the turn off for Ely-Anderson and then headed back with his pup, who was already beat from a big hike the day before. Five total dogs took part in this hike: Blanco, Chief, Bella, Lilly and Chloe.

    We ran into a bunch of Boy Scouts on the way in, but did not see anyone else until we neared the trailhead again, but the parking lot was near its usual winter form and nearly packed when we got back. It is so dry out there right now, as one would expect, not a drop of water anywhere the entire day and all the grasses brittle and brown. However, the summit was still a worthy destination and offered its usual nice views and different perspective on the Needle. The route down to Terrapin is a little more rugged than Ely, but it went by pretty nicely and we all escaped unscathed. It got a little warm towards the end of the day, but we kept the dogs well watered and were enjoying the air condition of our vehicles by one.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Cave Weavers Robbers Loop
    Enjoyed the route, the weather I could do without. Bruce covered our day top to bottom.

    Putting this route together I was looking to extend Robbers as much as possible. Rain hampered the mega loop so we stuck with a respectable loop. The key to the loop was getting down from Weaver's Overlook to Terrapin. Low and behold I stumbled upon a route by @juliachaos that helped bridge the gap!

    Heading north on Weaver's Overlook Route Scout showed the turn coming up soon. My waypoint rattled off turn into the abyss. Surprisingly the turn was cairned and looked well traveled. Tensions eased a touch. With all the recent rain everything was very green. The route is fairly well cairned with a hiccup or two. We wanted to follow it out but needed to get over to Terrapin in the Crosscut vicinity.

    After a busy week I stumbled upon the rest of the story... backwards. @Nonot has a great description for Barks Canyon - Complete Route. Soon that led me to @Fritzski on his Barks Upper Canyon Loop. Which in turn he put together from the Grand Poobah Jack Carlson.

    Based on the above two mentioned descriptions the route off Weaver's Overlook down to Barks used to be a bloodbath. I faired well in shorts. Abandoning the route directly over to Terrapin there was one nasty section. Bruce led since he wore pants. I followed step by step without issue. The route down was more fun than a concern. Hope to explore the area more someday.

    Paint brush, blue dicks, fairy duster among others. Saw a bunch underway that could bust a move in a week and change the horizon.
    Terrapin Trail #234
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Cave Weavers Robbers Loop
    We did this loop starting from the Lost Goldmine Trailhead. The first car in the lot, shared only with 20+ porta-potties for Sunday's marathon.

    We opted for a CCW loop, starting on Bluff Springs #235. This is always a good way to get the heart started first thing in the morning, climbing cardiac hill.

    I'd never been on the Cave Trail #235 going this direction. I think I like it better. Lots of interesting rock formations, the Devils Bathtub and then climbing up the Devils Slide. The cairn collection seems to have been slimmed down at "The Cave".

    Joe found us a well cairned and used track down the east side into Barks Canyon. We tried to play out the well used path, but it started taking us in the wrong direction. We reversed our direction and bushwhacked over to Bluff Saddle.

    Now on Terrapin #234, the off and on rain, was on for a while now. This trail has seen a very recent and welcomed trimming.

    On the Dutchman #104, we were looking for some shelter from the rain and wind to have some lunch. No luck.

    It finally let up a bit on Peralta #234 enough to have a brief bite.

    Also the first time climbing to the Robbers Roost from Peralta, a nice change up. We had the Roost to ourselves.

    The sky was starting to get noticeably darker. Starting down my least favorite trail in the Supes, West Boulder Saddle, the deluge hit. Nothing like hiking down a steep, loose, rocky path, while holding an umbrella with glasses that are fogged up.

    Another fun day in the Supes....

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To Peralta Trailhead
    7.6 miles east of the junction Idaho Rd / US-60. Turn Left on to FS77 which is Peralta Road. Follow FS77 5.6 miles to a left and up turnoff. Continue 1.9 miles to Peralta Trailhead.

    The trailhead has restrooms minus running water. The parking lot is huge. It does fill up in season on weekends. Since there are no lines the rangers ask that you park straight between the posts in the main lot. Please do your part with this simple request and make room for the next guy. 0.5 miles before reaching the trailhead is an overflow lot which is also suited for horse trailer parking.

    From PHX (Jct I-10 & AZ-51) 45.2 mi - about 1 hour 8 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 97.0 mi - about 2 hours 16 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 192 mi - about 3 hours 15 mins
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