La Barge Lower - Box Loop, AZ | HikeArizona
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La Barge Lower - Box Loop, AZ

Guide 147 Triplogs  6 Topics
  4.4 of 5 
no permit
1.6k 147 6
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 13 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,680 feet
Elevation Gain 570 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,540 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 9 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 30.7
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins & Seasonal Creek
 Backpack Yes & Connecting
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13  2021-12-19 azlaurie
14  2021-03-02
Second Water to La Barge Box
8  2021-03-02
Second Water to LaBarge Box
7  2021-01-23 desertadapted
25  2021-01-10 00blackout
16  2020-12-19
Battleship Mountain from Canyon Lake
10  2020-02-26 fdv75
9  2019-11-09 Walworthjordyn
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author avatar Guides 43
Routes 0
Photos 597
Trips 59 map ( 132 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  7:25am - 5:53pm
Official Route
12 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2020 Superstition Fire9.6k

Pure Boulderdash
by Fritzski

 Likely In-Season!
This hike was done as a 13-mile loop hike beginning at Canyon Lake trailhead and extending through LaBarge Canyon. It starts south on Boulder Creek trail, departs the trail at LaBarge Creek, proceeds through the length of LaBarge Canyon to join with the Cavalry Trail, and loops back on Boulder Creek Tr. to the trailhead. The loop portion basically circumnavigates the base of the magnificent Battleship Mtn.

For reasons that I'll point out later, probably about 99% of all those who do this hike will not want to complete the difficult entire loop. I will therefore try to describe this hike in two parts. The first, and main part being just that portion that extends upstream to about the halfway point of the canyon, covering the part generally referred to as "lower" LaBarge Box, and back out the same way for about a 9mi total trip.

A description of the first section of the hike on Boulder Canyon Trail from the Canyon Lake trailhead to LaBarge Creek can be found by referencing the Boulder Canyon hike in the HAZ database. Although the weather was a bit of a disappointment the day we went, it did lend itself to some mystical scenes that looked as though they were from the movie set of the "Lost World".

After your descent to the first crossing of LaBarge Creek (@3mi), it is advantageous to stay on the trail for a short distance more. It will parallel the creek on the west side until it finally heads up and to the west over the saddle. It is at this point that you drop into the creek bed and enter the canyon. This will now become your trail to the turnaround point at about the 4.5mi point.

Initially the walking is quite easy in the wide-open creek bed varying from some smooth rock areas to "bowling ball" sized rocks and larger. The awesome escarpments of Battleship Mtn. and Geronimo Head rise impressively on either side. Between about 3.5 and 4 miles the terrain begins to transition to areas of giant boulders requiring some moderate scrambling. I suggest that you just use your imagination in finding the best of many possible routes around these obstacles. None present a great problem that even a moderately experienced hiker can't overcome.

You will soon begin to notice a jagged wall looming ahead. This is the point at about 4.25mi, shown very distinctly on your topo, where the canyon makes a sharp left bend to be followed by a sharp right. It is here where you will be rewarded by one of the most stunning spots in the Superstitions.

After working your way around and through some bus-sized boulders at the bend, the beautiful scene will suddenly unfold as you are able to view around the corner. There is a system of beautiful large pools at the base of an unreal smooth rock slope all under vertical walls that extend straight up for hundreds of feet. There were minnow-sized fish in the pools, which I found surprising. The day we went the rock was quite wet and slippery so care had to be taken with each step.

This is a uniquely wonderful spot and the turnaround point for a very nice 9mi in and out hike. If you could catch it on a warm spring day with the water still flowing, it could be quite a fun swimmer's playground. You'll want to spend some time here so plan on a picnic and a rest break before reversing your route back to the parking lot.

The continuation of the entire loop hike from this point becomes markedly more difficult, don't go alone. Since the reward vs. effort factor dwindles, I would only recommend it to those hard-core types who are inclined to do it "because it is there". On the other hand, there is quite a high level of satisfaction of "beating" the canyon at its slightly sadistic game of systematically presenting one seemingly impossible boulder obstacle after another.

How you choose to attack each problem will vary, so be creative. Some will involve hugging narrow ledges on the side, scrambling straight up boulders, or bushwhacking through a choked opening to name a few. The gloomy and threatening weather on the day we went seemed to add an air of foreboding to the almost suffocating confines of the remote and narrow canyon. A bit of advice would be that you should consider yourself fairly committed after continuing any distance beyond the pools, for it quickly becomes a situation where it is wiser to continue than return through the maze.

After you have had enough bouldering, scrambling, and whacking to last you a good while, you will finally emerge from the south end of the canyon and run into the Cavalry Trail. Finally feels like you can breathe again!

From here you head right or west on Cavalry Tr. up and over a small saddle where you will get a view of Boulder Canyon and the trail ahead. When you intersect Boulder Canyon Tr. take it north past the Second Water Tr. intersection, Indian Paint mine, and on to the LaBarge Creek crossing where the loop portion will be complete. From here it is a matter of retracing your steps back up and over the hump that so defines the remainder of the Boulder Canyon. Trail. Dry weather may shorten the nine hours hiking time it took us that day.

It was our good fortune to get caught in only a mild bout of nearly freezing rain for the last mile. As soon as we got in the car it began a torrential downpour. That gave pause for a sobering thought. See what "living right" will get you!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2001-12-16 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.

     Permit $$

    Paved - Car Okay

    To Canyon Lake Trailhead
    From the junction of Idaho Road & SR-88 follow SR-88 14.4 miles east to just after mile marker 210. Turn left into the Canyon Lake Marina parking lot. The area closest to the SR-88 (furthest away from the Marina) is the actual trailhead parking. The area allowed is marked in front of each space.

    There's restrooms outside the restaurant. The restaurant is better than you might think for being out in the middle of nowhere. Try the stuffed Jalapeños, the berry sauce is awesome. Sit on the patio and watch the HUGE fish swim below. The 'Dolly' Steamboat (a tourist attraction) is way out of character for the area, but the snowbirds eat it up.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 49.7 mi - about 1 hour 6 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 143 mi - about 2 hours 23 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 194 mi - about 3 hours 10 mins

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