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Warning the 2019 Woodbury Fire & 2020 Sawtooth Fire damaged a majority of the Superstition Wilderness.
Shaka to the Wall or “Shaka when the walls fell?”
This is a short two-mile one-way trip to a Superstition Mountain waterfall with interesting canyon views. You can access the hike from either Lost Goldmine TH east or a slightly shorter trip from the Carney Springs TH. From LGM, it’s an easy-to-moderate roundtrip out-and-back. The total distance is just over four miles with 870 AEG.
The Carney Waterfall is an often dry fall in an emerging canyon at the back of Carney Springs canyon. It is visible from Peralta and miles away. The fall flows over the top of the Dacite Mesa down sheer cliffs into Carney Springs Canyon. Climbers coming down from Robbers Roost Canyon say that it is a 240-foot drop. The fall is impressive when flowing and a rare sight from the base. This route travels over areas of bedrock when possible, thus minimizing erosion and human impact on vegetation. This guide overviews a round trip from LGM east to the wall and back.
Begin at Lost Goldmine Trailhead east. Head west while keeping the fence and looming Dacite Cliffs on your right. The fence is the southern boundary of the Superstition Wilderness Area and the Tonto National Forest. Continue west on Lost Goldmine Trail #60 until you reach the Carney Springs connector about the 1.1-mile mark. After weaving through the fence and passing the rocks painted with arrows, bear right at the fork. Not only are the signs gone, but now the Carney Springs signpost has also been obliterated. The left fork goes to the Wave Cave. Follow Route Scout and a right turn at the cave trail around a mile and a half. Moderate foot traffic has worn the path so that it’s easy to follow up to the cave area.
Enjoy the Saguaro forest as the elevation increases. As the cave comes to view, there is a hidden draw to the left when you get to the bedrock tongue. Take the unmarked left, and you will be heading up to the waterfall. It’s essential that you try to stay on route for the last 0.4 miles so as not to erode the hillside. Some of this faint trail is on a slant, so please try to step on the high (uphill) side and never the weak side. The many areas of bedrock can obscure the path, so use Route Scout to stay on track if you lose the trail. This is a less-traveled area, so you can expect shifting rocks and even rolling boulders. Please be careful and don’t over trust the traction on your shoes. Hug the cliff whenever possible. When you near the fall, there is a crack to step over that has slight exposure.
Reap the rewards of your journey at the waterfall and head back when you are ready. The return trip is all downhill. Carefully retrace your steps along the social trail, mindful of stepping on the high side. Feel free, but not obligated to stop by the Shaka Cave for a cold one from the fridge. Don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave.
Carney Springs is named after Peter G. Carney, who mined the area over 100 years ago. He had a camp near the modern junction of where Wave Cave trail and Carney Springs trail split. Just after New Year’s 1914, Mr. Carney’s foreman was murdered during a mysterious dispute. The victim’s name was reported in newspapers as Eli Vendervitch, Kovacevich, Lavocovitch, and other variations. No matter the spelling of the Servian gentleman’s name, the murder was quite sensational, and the motive for the crime was an unsolved mystery.
Three men, Wingar, Cody, and MacKinnon, were implicated in the murder and arrested. Burt Wingar was a rival miner, a rancher, and a well-known citizen at the time. He was charged with helping the murderers escape. A fourth associate, Bill Carson, was also sought for questioning but was never found.
Rumors swirled like smoke around Carney campfires that Kovacevich had discovered two rather large bags of gold in the back of a hidden cave not far from the camp. One witness described how he awoke and silently followed Kovacevich to a cave opening. The strange cave was described as being the shape of a crooked mouth. He secretly watched with fascination as Kovacevich carried seemingly heavy bags from the cave and loaded them onto his pack mule. As Kovacevich headed off into the night, Mr. Carson arrived at the cave. He was also observed suspiciously following Kovacevich and his mule as they traveled north. Nobody saw the crime, but Mr. Kovacevich was found days later shot dead, last seen in the company of Carson. He apparently was trapped against the cliffs of a dry waterfall at the head of the canyon. The area was searched, and no gold was ever retrieved, and Carson was gone.
The body of Kovacevich was in the desert for days before being located. Countrymen of Mr. Kovacevich eventually recovered his remains and laid him to rest. Ultimately, the three suspects were exonerated for lack of evidence and released. The truth about what happened has been lost in time. To this day, Eli’s murder has never officially been solved, nor has anyone ever explained how the gold got into the cave or whatever became of Carson? He was suspected of firing several long-range rifle shots into the camp a few weeks later, but all they found was his bloody handkerchief. Bill Carson disappeared from Carney that night and from history as well.
A shadow fell over Camp Carney following the murder, and within a few years, Pete Carney pulled up stakes and moved on. It is said that there is a strange skull-shaped formation on the canyon wall where the murder was committed.
(Not all of these statements have been independently validated)
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
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.