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Malapais Mountain - Superstitions, AZ

Guide 22 Triplogs  2 Topics
  4.3 of 5 
no permit
255 22 2
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,760 feet
Elevation Gain 2,446 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,050 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8-12 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 29.75
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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11  2020-02-09
Geronimo Head - Malapais Mtn
8  2020-02-09 Mountain_Rat
23  2020-01-18 DixieFlyer
9  2019-11-16 Walworthjordyn
19  2018-12-12 DixieFlyer
14  2018-02-25
Geronimo Malapais
11  2018-02-25
Geronimo Head - Malapais Mtn
9  2017-12-02 te_wa
Page 1,  2,  3
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,086
Trips 4,888 map ( 24,947 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Feb, Jan
Sun  5:37am - 7:26pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2020 Superstition Fire9.6k
🔥 2019 Woodbury Fire123.8k
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥

Warning the 2019 Woodbury Fire & 2020 Sawtooth Fire damaged a majority of the Superstition Wilderness.
Waves of Desert
by joebartels

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One hundred percent off-trail mean desert hike to some of the most beautiful views of the Superstition Wilderness.

This is an extension of the Geronimo Head hike. Follow that hike to Peak 3509.

Study, print, and, if possible, load this GPS Route into your GPS. As you can see from Peak 3509, you will be hiking a ridge over to the base of Malapais. This is the easiest hiking of the day so enjoy it. You might want to log a waypoint at 33.506888, -111.379137 into your GPS. You need to go west of this conglomerate of rock. One in our group did downclimb it, and it's just easier in the shallow ravine to the west.

We chose to ascend Malapais via a wide ravine on its northwest face. In doing so, we stayed on the west side. About a third of the way up, we climbed out of the ravine. There were a couple of not very helpful random cairns. The ascent is steep and loaded with cactus but not as steep as the initial ascent from the parking lot. It may be possible to ascend the ridge on the west side of the ravine. However, there is a band of cliffs two-thirds of the way up. It "appeared" there was a break in the cliffs. The ravine looked like a safer approach as we didn't want to waste resources.

On top at the north Peak 4159, you are rewarded with views and a sense this whole thing has merit. Continue over a half-mile to the south Peak 4229. Like other mountain tops in this area it's loaded with a maze of desert vegetation. On the south peak, you are rewarded with far-reaching views in all directions: (West) Superstition Ridgeline, (North) Four Peaks, (East) Tortilla Mountain, (South) Miner's Needle if you squint. Tortilla Peak would offer more views to the east. Malapais has views down into the labyrinth of LaBarge and Boulder Canyons, making it among the premier viewing spots in Arizona, in my opinion. Full overhead views of Battleship and Black Mountain too(rarely seen elsewhere).

The most prudent return is to backtrack. If you are familiar with Peter's Canyon, you can drop down to various points. One time I dropped down to Tortilla Creek. That proved much easier than the bullish entrance route. You "might" be able to drop down off to the south. It looks exceptionally rough. The best break in the cliff band appears to be a good mile away at Squaw Canyon as labeled on topo. However, that would likely have to be a shuttle option as it's unlikely you'd return to Tortilla Flats. Carlson did a loop with the entire length of Peter's Canyon, better eat your Wheaties for that one!

Do not attempt this hike in temps over 80 degrees. Not only would it not be enjoyable, but it could also be dangerous.

Be Prepared
Pants are a must for this hike. Preferably tough pants as you may be sliding on rock surfaces and scree slopes depending on your route. One hiking pole helps on the loose slopes, two would be cumbersome. Some may prefer gloves. Tweezers are a good idea as your chances for cacti encounters are rather high. For 80 degree weather, I recommend 5 quarts+ per hiker. Snacking food to sandwiches are recommended to keep your energy level up on this strenuous hike.

Water Sources
Virtually none, bring plenty. We saw several 10-20 gallon pools in Upper Geronimo Ravine in October, but you'd have to be mighty thirsty even to drink it filtered. I have witnessed the creek barely flowing Dec-Feb though it's less likely you'll need it in those lower temp months.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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

2009-10-05 joebartels
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    guide related
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 $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Tortilla Flat Trailhead
From Idaho Road & SR-88 follow SR-88 east 17.0 miles to Tortilla Flat. Continue just past the buildings and before the bridge-less flood ravine. On the south side of the road near the museum follow a road that rises up. This takes you up to an overflow parking lot where hikers are allowed to park. If you are parking overnight fill out a free permit as stated on the sign.

Parking elsewhere has been reported by members as a $75 ticket from the Forest Service.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 52.0 mi - about 1 hour 10 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 145 mi - about 2 hours 27 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 196 mi - about 3 hours 14 mins
page created by joebartels on Oct 04 2009 5:20 pm
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
prehydrate & stay hydrated
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