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Aylor's Arch, AZ

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Guide 76 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
4.1 of 5 by 32
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,258 feet
Elevation Gain 549 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,790 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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8  2019-01-19 Walworthjordyn
6  2018-11-24 mt98dew
23  2018-02-03 DixieFlyer
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
6  2017-11-24 jamminaz
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Author Fritzski
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 0
Photos 597
Trips 59 map ( 132 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
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7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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Scrambling Heights
by Fritzski

This is just the kind of hike I really enjoy - a predominately off-trail adventure into a lesser traveled nook of the Superstition Mountains. I find this type of hike to be a little edgier and usually a bit more interesting than your well-established trails.

Aylor's Arch sits atop the mystical (some say) Palomino Mountain just west and across the Dutchman Trail from the well known Black Top Mesa. It was named after fortune hunters Charles and Peg Aylor who established a camp just to the north of the mountain in the 1940's. The site was later named "Caballo Camp" and is thus shown on topo map.

To get to Palomino Mtn. You first take the Dutchman Trail from First Water trailhead to the 3.8 mile point which is just slightly beyond the Black Mesa Trail intersection at a small clearing with a lone scraggly tree in the middle. To help keep your bearings, the omnipresent Dead Women's Cave will be looming above you to the south in the side of Black Mesa for the duration of the hike. For a good description to this point, I recommend you reference Joe's Charlebois from First Water.

Now the journey actually begins. If you look to the south, you will see a small low saddle. Make your way easily through the spread vegetation to the top and then descend into the creek bed below. Go right or south and follow the wash as it makes its way through a narrow opening in the craggy ridge ahead. The going is easy and along the way you will come across an old exploratory mine shaft on your right. Shortly thereafter you will find yourself at the base of a narrow ravine heading toward the top of the mountain.

Palomino Mountain is characterized as a rock fortress formed by sheer cliffs on all sides with the exception of this one opening being the only avenue of assault. While the climb up this ravine isn't the worst bushwhack in the world, there are spots where it gets a bit choked and the angle gets steep with loose gravel. Definitely wear long pants.

As you begin your ascent you may notice a large pile of mine tailings at the base of the cliff right below the arch, which has now come into view. For this reason I chose to favor the left side of the drainage to make my way toward it. My advice is not to bother due to the fact that since it was obviously dynamited shut, there isn't much to look at. From the amount of tailings, it would appear that it was a rather large mine and due to its proximity to the Aylor camp, I would imagine that they must have had something to do with it. Looking around, there were other small "side" mines, but I was just convinced that the Dutchman treasure lay buried right there before me :).

The top of the ravine is the narrowest, but it is fairly short and the bushes not mainly of the more vicious types. You will finally emerge at the top and find yourself surrounded on three sides by the type of sheer vertical that gives you that uneasy little twist in your stomach when you near the edge.

The top of Palomino Mtn. is formed three vertical fins or spines that run north-south. The eastern most spine is by far the longest and makes up the magnificent wall that looms above from the Dutchman Trail below. It is at the northern end of this fin that you will find the Arch.

When you emerge from the ravine you will be between the west and middle spines. There are convenient flat areas between each of the spines. The tricky part for some may be the scrambling and bouldering required to "hop" the spines. For those that are comfortable with this sort activity, the options to explore are numerous depending on your self-confidence.

To get the best close-up view of the arch, one must get to the area between the middle and east ridge. This basically involves getting over the middle spine by straddling the top of for a short distance till you get to a point where you can descend down to the flat From here, a little more scrambling is required to make your way north as far as possible on the flat till you are pretty much right under the arch. Being by myself, this is as close as I dared try and get.

Thinking about the possibility of crossing the arch... I wouldn't recommend it. It is only about the diameter of a good-sized tree trunk and its consistency does not look all that substantial. I went as far as I dared on top of the east spine toward the arch, but the exposure finally got the better of me. How about sitting inside the arch? Possible, but I'm ninety percent sure you would want technical rock climbing equipment to approach it from underneath.

After you've thoroughly explored the top and had a good look at the arch, its time to head down. The route is the same at the narrow top portion of the ravine, but as it begins to flare out, I took the west or left side down this time. It proved to be easier and once I got back down to the creek bed I decided to explore a bit further west which was fortuitous because I discovered the secondary trail shown on the topo quad, although showing no signs of use was quite well defined and easy to follow. This is the trail on the topo (not shown on the Beartooth map) that goes right through the letter "a" in the word Canyon in Little Boulder Canyon. Where it forks, you can take either way back to the Dutchman Trail. Knowing exactly where these trails intersect the Dutchman would provide a more efficient route for future trips. Once back on the Dutchman it is just a matter of hoofing it back to the F.W. trailhead.

I really enjoyed this little adventure and would totally recommend it for anyone looking for something a little different - "Off the beaten path", so to say. My only misgiving was that it was a cloudy day and my photos were a little dull... maybe better next time!

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2001-12-02 Fritzski
    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 27 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Aylor's Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Including myself, there were 7 intrepid hikers from a meetup group that began hiking at the First Water TH, and we did an out-and-back hike to Aylor's Arch and Black Top Mesa. We went out on the Dutchman Trail #104, and after about 5 miles or so, just past the turnoff to the Boulder Canyon trail, the trail went through a wash. Instead of continuing on the Dutchman Trail, we took a right in the wash and hiked through the wash for a half mile or so, until Aylor's Arch came into view off to the left. Then we followed a social trail up to a saddle just to the right of Aylor's Arch. Then we went to just below Aylor's Arch, and said what the heck, let's go up on Aylor's Arch. It was cool being up there, and the views were awesome. However, if you have a fear of heights, you may not want to to up to the top of the Arch.

    We then reversed our course until we got back to the wash. Then when we got to the Dutchman Trail, we took a right from out of the wash. We didn't go too far, until we took the Bull Pass trail to the left. We then began ascending, and when we got to the base of Black Top Mesa, we took a trail to the right up to the top of Black Top Mesa. There were some cool views on top of the mesa -- Weaver's Needle was right in front of us, and I was able to recognize Superstition Peak 5057, Black Mountain, Peter's Mesa, among other landmarks. While on the mesa, not too far from the Sunburst Petroglyph, we came across a geocache container, which was the first one of those that I had found.

    Once we descended from Black Top Mesa, we took the Bullpass trail back to the Dutchman Trail, and from there went back to the trailhead. It was a warm afternoon, and one of the hikers commented that the 5 miles or so that we went back on the Dutchman trail seemed like a 100 mile death march. While that may have smacked of hyperbole, I certainly did not argue with her!
    Aylor's Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    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.
    Aylor's Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    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..

    Aylor's Arch
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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.
    Aylor's Arch
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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.
    Aylor's Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I got an early morning start on this one. I was on trail by 5am which meant plenty of solitude and darkness to be had. Being out in the Superstitions alone, in conditions like this, is both amazing and occasionally terrifying. I managed to catch a glimpse of a couple meteors from the shower.

    The trail was somewhat overgrown, more so than I've seen out here.

    I took a scary spill once off trail and navigating the dry creek bed beneath Palomino. The damage was as follows: bruised my shin and scrapped my elbow.

    The final push up Palomino reminds me a lot of the final half of Picketpost. The ground is full of pinball size rock, and footing is at a premium. The mailbox and log are still mia up top.
    Aylor's Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I got a later start than I was hoping for so had to cut off a few of the additions I made to this loop. Made my way to Battleship and didn't run into anyone until the turnoff. There was a group of around 15 people making their way up. I passed them and ran into two guys on the hairy part.

    Descending Battleship, I followed the trail mostly, back to Boulder Canyon. Parts of Boulder Canyon are extremely overgrown. It made following the trail difficult at times; and also a sense of uneasiness as you never knew what was lurking just below the cover.

    Heading up the creek towards Palomino. Arriving at Palomino and started up. Ran into another large group up on top.

    On the way down, being pressed for time, I wasn't sure if I was going to take Dutchman or Black Mesa; I opted for Black Mesa. Upon hitting the junction with Second Water I ran into those two guys I saw on Battleship. One of them asked if I had any extra water. Apparently he didn't bring any water at all. His friend knew and let him come anyways. I was happy to lose a little weight and gave him one of my emergency bottles.
    Aylor's Arch
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    After yesterday's journey to Battleship I wasn’t quite sure what my body was going to feel like today; and thus wasn’t really sure what to plan for. I haven’t made the trek out to Aylor’s Arch in quite sometime. I would come to find out, just over 3 years.

    This morning I woke up and with my legs feeling good I decided to give First Water another go around. I had previously talked with my fiance in the morning and told her I’d text her my destination for safety reasons. I made it to the trailhead roughly 15 minutes later than I did yesterday.

    Starting down the trail my legs felt really good. I intermittently thought about that (and how Flatiron is destroying me), wedding stuff (less than 7 months to go), and a conversation I overheard while getting my gear ready in the parking lot. Two guys were talking about how a higher power had already found their future spouses for them, even though they had no idea what they looked like. The peculiarity of the topic really caught my attention apparently. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop but couldn’t help myself.

    The trail is in really good shape. I was able to cruise through the various sections and in no time made it to where the rest of the journey is off trail. I passed a few separate groups on the way to this point. One thing I did make note of is during my last trip out here I vowed never to return due to this long, never ending, section. It really went by fast this time around.

    Reaching the intersection of Dutchman and Black Mesa the slog of off-trail travel cropped up. I sort of remembered the way, even though I had only been out here twice. I recalled being in the creek bed and then hanging a left after an outcropping. I decided to follow the route I had loaded in my Garmin and Route Scout. It took me a bit to the left of the creek bed. After toiling through a bunch of crap I decided to head back into the stream.

    Hanging a left turn I started up the gully towards the peak. My last time out here the trail was definitely more noticeable. Now, it was a tangled, overgrown mess of plants and loose rocks/soil. This part of the hike felt longer than the previous part. It just was up, up, and up.

    Reaching the summit I soaked in the magnificent views of Weaver’s and then checked in at the mailbox. I looked at the summit registry and was shocked that there was an absence of entries. I quickly realized that this was the same small notebook that I had signed in to 3 years prior. Since then, a mere 2 or 3 pages since then might have been filled up if everyone had signed in line by line.

    I pulled up the nearest rock and sat down and enjoyed the views. I also had time to reflect on how much my life has changed over the past 3 years. Getting out of a bad relationship, switching schools, meeting the one, and now about to do something I never thought I’d ever do again in a few short months. Pretty crazy how unpredictable life can be and how small, seemingly meaningless decisions, can have a huge impact on your existence.

    On the way down the steep slope I had a couple close calls where I almost ate dirt. It reminded me a lot of descending Picketpost where you basically are continually in a controlled fall. Making it back to the main trail I cruised on back to the trailhead.

    Overall it was an enjoyable experience. Upon Chumley’s advice I used Route Scout and I have to say I was quite impressed with it. I was concerned that it may just sap my battery, but returning to my car I still had 74% left; with the phone being in airplane mode the whole time except for briefly on the summit. I’ll definitely be using that more now that I see how it works. It is nice to have the mile announcements as I can tell if I need to pick it up or slow it down.
    Aylor's Arch
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Had a larger group than normal (13 in all!), which made this one fun. We decided to deviate slightly from the official route and instead follow the creek (the one just below "Little Boulder Canyon" on the topo map) straight down until we could see the arch. After that, it wasn't too hard to figure out where to go. Though, we did find a slighter easier path on the way down than we did going up. The bushwacking was fun :D

    I probably made it about a quarter way out on the arch and then I started thinking about the wind, the slight tilt of the arch, and the cracks along the middle. :scared: Yeah, a quarter of the way was fine, haha.
    Aylor's Arch
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Caballo Camp in Boulder Basin

    We're supposed to have a rainy weekend in the Valley so this seemed like a good time to get out and hike the Superstitions while the weather was still in my favor. With the fronts moving in, I thought I would have good cloud cover and I like the Boulder Basin's scenery, especially if there's some dramatic clouds.

    As I was driving in on the First Water Road, there was a strong cloud bank to the North but clearing to the South...... So the race was on. I quickly parked my truck, got geared up, signed in and was on the trail by 0615 I guessed that I better get out to the Basin before the clouds disappeared completely, so I put it in JJ Mode :D At Parker Pass, I checked my time and it was one hour on the dot so I kept up the pace heading down into the Basin Area.

    I met a lone backpacker who was heading in and we had a short conversation then I'm off again. Had to stop and take a couple shots of Weavers Needle as the clouds were thinning out :( and my hopes of some intense clouds were thinning too. I checked my time as I arrived at the campsite below Aylor's Arch and I made it in 1-hr, 59-min :y: but the clouds were almost completely gone by now :o

    I took a snack break on the large Quartz boulders in the camp area, waiting (hoping) for a passing cloud but the sun was by now rising above the cliffs of Black Top Mesa and Aylor's Arch was all lit up. I hiked around the area for a while, listening to the sounds of running water in East Boulder Canyon and took some photos of the Crested Saguaro below the shaded cliffs of Black Top Mesa.

    Guess I'm not going to get the clouds I had hoped for so I began a slower pace back to the Trailhead. Along the way I paused for some more shots and had the thrill of meeting a Gila Monster slowly crossing the Dutchman's Trail. I watched it for a time and made sure that it was safely off the trail before continuing on. I made it to the Trailhead a little past noon, changed shoes, signed out and headed to the Bluebird for a cold brew.

    So I missed my cloudy day, but that only means that I'm going to have to try again..... Ain't no such thing as a bad day in the Superstitions :y:

    Lots of early stage flowers around, they need a little more time yet.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Apache Junction follow SR88 northeast out of town. Just past milepost 201 (which is just after the Lost Dutchman State Park) turn right onto FS78. This is a dirt road but easily doable by car. Follow 2.6 miles to the end which is the First Water Trailhead
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