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Parker Pass, AZ

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Guide 88 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.3 of 5 by 25
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,300 feet
Elevation Gain 337 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.29
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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17  2019-08-10 adilling
6  2018-10-13
Red Hills Needle Canyon
19  2018-01-12
Marsh Valley Loop
7  2018-01-11
Aylor's Arch and Black Top Mesa
21  2017-12-16
Aylor Arch - Black Top and Black Mesa
17  2017-12-16
Aylor Arch - Black Top and Black Mesa
15  2017-12-16
Aylor Arch - Black Top and Black Mesa
9  2017-04-22
Black Top Mesa
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,812
Trips 4,252 map ( 21,403 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Any
Seasons   Late Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:32pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Central Avenue
by joebartels

First Water trailhead to Parker Pass is a popular stretch of trail in the Superstition Wilderness. This is probably over simplified for most. Newcomers to hiking searching for a close-to-the-city beginner-trail will find this a good introduction.

First and foremost... The best time of year to hike the western Superstition Wilderness is from November to mid March. From First Water Trailhead you will follow the #104 Dutchman Trail to Parker Pass. There is no water available at the trailhead. The only water available on route is First Water Creek. ( which is referred to as FWC )

The trail crosses FWC 7 times before reaching "Stingray Saddle" ( more on that later ) FWC is seasonal meaning it runs after a rain. Sometimes that means there are springs along the way that run dry too. In this case, looking at the topographical map, I don't even see any springs.

A little background on the flow of FWC... It's origin is just northeast of a ridge with an elevation reading of "4542" on Superstition Mountain. So it comes down from Superstition Mountain swiftly, then zig zags along a section of the Dutchman Trail. Eventually it scurries on down to Canyon Lake. It dumps into that alcove of the first bridge you cross at Canyon Lake. Hmm... interesting!

Okay let's get on the trail already... There's a good chance a forest ranger will greet you in season. Usually a friendly hello and they remind you to pack out ALL your trash. The trail starts through the white steel stile. ( just think turn-stile without the turn ) I just kinda made that up so don't start e-mailing me! It appears there's a trail heading away from the restrooms, that isn't the trail. Basically the trail you want is across the parking lot from the bathrooms not anywhere close to them.

The first section goes down huge flat white-ish slabs of rock. In about a quarter mile or 5-7 minutes you come to the junction with Second Water Trail. Second Water shoots off to the left and looks more maintained. Continue straight / right on the Dutchman. The first creek crossing isn't FWC. It's a major feeder coming from the Massacre Grounds and ultimately from the upper reaches of Superstition Mountain too.

The next seven creek crossings are FWC. The trail goes from open to brushy. On your right will be numerous rock formations along the way. I guess I should mention this is also a popular horse trail. So beware of the steaming land mines. More so, remember horses get the ride of way. Step aside and let them pass.

I'd like to say this trail is a no brainer and you can't get lost. Though it's unlikely, there is one iffy junction. Right after the very first crossing of FWC you might wonder where to go. Just remember to stay right. The left circles a knoll and is also a crossover to Second Water Trail.

Continue on the Dutchman crossing all seven creek crossings. There's a nice (very)mini hidden canyon if you follow the creek. It's somewhere between crossings 3 and 4 I think. It's looks like there's enough dip to get a swimming hole going after a rain. However it would be rocky on the bottom! You probably shouldn't be out here when it's warm enough to swim anyways so forget that all together.

About 5-8 minutes after the last crossing the trail lifts up to a saddle. This isn't Parker Pass. I've dubbed this saddle "Stingray Saddle" as it's only listed as 2500 on the topo. From Parker Pass this saddle looks like a white Stingray lying in the desert. Trust

It's 1.55 miles to "Stingray Saddle" and only 200 feet of elevation gain you'll barely notice. From here the trail drops down a bit. Then it continues up to Parker Pass at 2.3 miles. The views from Parker Pass are fair at best.

Once you get the Superstition bug you'll want to go further. A loop with Black Mesa is an easy and popular option if you think you can hang out for 8.5 miles. If the creeks are flowing a great option is "Upper First Water Creek". Maybe even up the ante with another 3.5 to 4 miles to Weavers Needle for a hearty outing. If that's too easy, try going up to the top of Black Top Mesa. Which is another 3.5 miles and straight up.

Oh yeah, the whole idea here was introduction to the Superstitions. Since this really isn't an exciting trail up to Parker Pass, I've put a little meat on the bone. You might have noticed faint trails-of-use leading away on route to Parker Pass. I checked out all I found and here's my favorite. From "Stingray Saddle" there are use trails heading off both sides. Take the one heading northeast not southwest. ( think Four Peaks ) It heads straight up from the saddle. Watch out for cacti, more so the possibility of sliding back onto one. Once on top you'll have some nice views and the possibility to play on what I call the "Fins". ( not for kids! )

On top looking north-ish you have two thin fins on the left. ( think I labeled them twin fins in the photos ) In the middle is the upper wide fin. On the right is the main mound, which is probably the safest option. I wouldn't go on the twin fins, but I'm sure some bright soles have. The upper wide fin is doable, with a very minor move. In all honesty, the views aren't any better from up there, but it's kinda fun if your really bored. At any rate... from somewhere up there you can get in great views. Including the Four Peaks, a full view of Black Mesa, Weavers Needle, the terminus of the ridge between East Boulder Canyon & Boulder Canyon, Superstition Peak, a section of the Ridgeline, and the full trail back to the trailhead if you squint really hard.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2001-10-15 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 25 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Parker Pass
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    I am slowly getting back on the trails. I needed an easy one to test my ankle strength and opted for the always wonderful Dutchman Trail up Parker Pass from First Water.

    I torn a couple ligaments in my ankle in March and did not do anything to remedy that situation. In fact, I just kept on hiking in spite of my ankle telling me that was a bad idea. So, I ended up making this upper ankle sprain even worse than it was. Oh well, I did the 6 weeks of the boot and kept off it as much as possible. I am approaching the end of my 8 weeks of rehab. No more swelling and that dull pain I had for all those months is slowing going away. Now, I need to get some strength back.

    I arrived at the trailhead about 530am. There were a few vehicles in the lot when I set off. I came across one group coming back up the trail right near the pass. And, on the way back, I passed a few parties heading down. Other than that, I had the place to myself.

    I was considering going further and try and reach the area between Black Top Mesa and Palomino, but after 3 miles, I decided to turn back and call it a good day. I can tell my legs are out of shape as well. I averaged about 2mph on this trail, I usually fly on this part of the Dutchman. Oh well, I am out there and will only get stronger. I'll be back doing the harder ones in no time.

    Not many critters out on this morning. I saw the usual speedy lizards, a few cardinals, some bunnies and some buzzards. I usually have good luck with the animals on this one. I was surprised I did not see any snakes.

    The trail is looking good. A little overgrown in spots, but nothing crazy. I will come back to this one soon and do the Black Mesa Loop.
    Parker Pass
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    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.
    Parker Pass
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    I needed 12.5 miles to get to my goal for 2017. I had seen this trail on HAZ but in 43 years of hiking the Dutchman I had never noticed the trail branching off. Sure enough there it was. It's really kind of a neat little trail. Quite overgrown in many areas, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Fritzski was totally correct beautiful views from several places on the trail and again at Tim's Saddle. But all that changed when you get to the bottom of the hill from Tim's Saddle. That is when the trail ends and you hit West Boulder "Creek" Other than 5 or 6 little puddles it was totally dry. And those puddles would have made a frog claustrophobic. I originally tried to find some sort of trail, but I think the only thing that lives there is cat claw, prickly pear and cholla. In 45 miutes the best I did was to get to the house sized boulder mentioned by Fritzski. At this point I decided to just turn around and live to do battle another day.

    I then figured I'd use Black Mesa Loop to get the rest of the 12.5 miles I needed.

    The sun was bright and very warm. Every once in a while a breeze would sneak through. Not many people on the trails most were probably there on Christmas day.
    Parker Pass
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    Headed back into the western Supes for an enjoyable hike to Charlebois. Started from First Water TH around 8:20am and took the Second Water Trail to Boulder Canyon. Headed south from there and connected onto the Cavalry Trail. Saw a pair of Coati in Marsh Valley and then connected onto the Dutchman Trail. Took a quick detour over to Charlbois and then started my return. I took a lunch break near Bull Pass and completed the loop finishing around 3pm. Was a nice day on the trails!
    Parker Pass
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    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..

    Parker Pass
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    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.
    Parker Pass
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    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.
    Parker Pass
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    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! :)
    Parker Pass
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    Boy, is it great to be back in Arizona :y:

    Got back home to Apache Junction Tuesday around Noon and decided that I Needed to get out in the Superstitions hiking again. It's been two months since I was last hiking in Arizona so I'm a bit overdue. Still got tons of work ahead of me so I just selected First Water TH to Parker Pass to get re-acquainted.

    I was the only vehicle at the TH at 0600 so I hit the trails as the sun was trying to burn holes in the low hanging clouds. Lots of humidity hanging in the air but with the lower temps it felt kinda good. After I had gone a mile I spotted a Tarantula about to enter it's hole, must have been a "hard day's night" out there :) A short distance from there, I was alerted to the presence of a Diamondback :o Holy Crap, he must have had a bad night cause he was really pissed, never heard a rattler make so much noise... must have been the dry leaves by it's rattle that made so much noise.

    Got to the Pass and took a short break to wipe off the sweaty brow, take a couple of shots of Weavers Needle with low hanging clouds behind it and make my turn around. No rattler or Tarantula on the return trip :D Only two other vehicles at the TH when I returned... #lovinthesolitude
    Parker Pass
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    trans-Supes (Miles to First Water)
    Originally planned to take a couple of days to do the Highline from end to end in Payson, but weather nixed that last minute as the first snow system of the year blew in 3-6". So, decided the day before to divert to the Supes and do a trans-Superstitions hike from east to west, and I decided on Miles as the start and First Water as the end.

    There are lots of possibilities for something like this. Actually, if we had had a little bit more time, I would rather have taken a route that included Rogers Canyon Trail rather than the forest road between Rogers TH and Woodbury E TH, but we needed to shave off a few miles. Weather was nice for our trip, but we knew we only had a day and a half, as my friend Bill needed to get to another appointment, thus the cuts. My first time out on the trail with him, great company!

    Spent the night at Miles Trailhead, just as the weather system was finishing up in the state. It actually still had more rain to get out of its system before daybreak, but we kept dry. Sure did make our start on day 1 a bit wet though, all the water on the grass and bushes had our pants, shoes and socks soaked through after we started out the next morning. Just before sunrise, checked out the property a little bit before starting on the trail. Was surprised to see a fairly new grave on the Miles property, dated 2014. Then stated down the West Pinto. At first the creek was dry, but once we passed Oak Flat the creek started building up a pretty nice flow. Past Oak Flat, there still was the sketchy trail for a few miles, requiring the GPS a few times. Saw a couple of whitetail deer on the trail, lots of bear scat (some fresh), punched through the catclaw and other bushes. We were able to make the high point of the trail, then descend to Rogers Spring, check it out and get to Rogers Trough TH by 11:30.

    Bill and I coasted down the forest service road to Woodbury's eastern trailhead, seeing our only person for the day ATV'er on the forest road. Once on Woodbury, much of it was intuitive, cross-country hiking, not any well-defined trail. I checked out the homestead again, whereby this time the bear scat of course was more like ... cow scat. Went around JF Ranch to hit the Coffee Flat Trail, which basically just follows Fraser Canyon's wash from the ranch to Dripping Spring and beyond before becoming an actual trail. Descended into Barkley Basin (love that view of all the saguaros in the basin!), then over to Miners Needle and the Dutchman Trail to get to Peralta. Bill had some foot trouble, all the water and wet feet on the trail led to some pretty nasty blisters that he ended up needing to have a doctor tend to (yikes!). Arriving at Peralta at 5:20, we decided to pause there for the afternoon, crashing nearby until sunup the next morning.

    That next morning was a quick half-day, heading up Bluff Springs Trail from Peralta to the Terrapin, and then over Bull Pass Trail to the Dutchman Trail and out. On our second day, we didn't run into anyone until we were on the other side of Parker Pass, just a couple of miles from First Water TH. Did see another whitetail out there on day 2, though.

    Trip took a bit longer than expected due to my friend's blisters, but not too bad at all. Had some nice breaks to sit down and admire the scenery, and give him a chance to go at his own pace and catch up to me. 10:45 day 1, 6:06 day 2.

    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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