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Peter's Cave, AZ

Guide 60 Triplogs  3 Topics
  3.9 of 5 
no permit
693 60 3
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,760 feet
Elevation Gain 500 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,000 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 10
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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5  2021-02-17 wallyfrack
31  2020-03-06 KBKB
9  2020-02-18 00blackout
9  2020-02-04 fdv75
13  2018-11-29 gmaclachlan
11  2018-02-10
Peters Lower Tortilla
42  2017-03-31 KBKB
26  2016-03-18 KBKB
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,083
Trips 4,885 map ( 24,932 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Feb, Mar → 10 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:36am - 7:27pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2019 Woodbury Fire123.8k

Warning the 2019 Woodbury Fire & 2020 Sawtooth Fire damaged a majority of the Superstition Wilderness.
The tourist attraction is the Flats?
by joebartels

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The trek to Peter's Cave is an excellent introduction to lower Peters Canyon. Peters Canyon starts on the north side of Music Mountain. It runs about 5.5 miles(6.5 miles if you follow the zig-zags of the canyon floor) northwest to Tortilla Canyon, very close to Tortilla Flats. To check out the origins of this canyon, see "Peters Trail to 2nd Saddle".

No maintained trails will be found in this area. Route finding skills are necessary. Trail data given is for the white line in the canyon, out & back. The hike will take approximately 4 hours. If you follow the two red line shortcuts, you can make this trip in 3 hours. Check out the map provided. This trek starts anywhere up to a mile east of Tortilla Flats. Numerous pullouts alongside SR88 are available. I recommend finding one closer to Tortilla Flats. This way, you can take advantage of an excellent short cut.

Click to enlarge MapFrom your car head straight down into the Tortilla Canyon creek bed. You can follow Tortilla Creek east, but it's nothing spectacular. If you do, finding the point to turn into Tortilla Canyon might be tricky. There are two moderately-tricky route-finding points in this hike. You can skip this first one and save time by taking a shortcut. So... from your car, head down into Tortilla Creek. Then head straight back up the south side. It's steep, but you'll soon find a good trail of use. Go east on this good trail. It will take you over then down to Tortilla Canyon. This is also where Tortilla Canyon becomes distinctive.

Follow Tortilla Canyon about a half-mile to Peters Canyon. The terrain isn't difficult. Only minor scrambling side to side around obstacles is necessary. Nevertheless, it slows you down considerably compared to a well-traveled maintained trail. The second moderate-tricky route-finding point is the turn into Peters Canyon. If you studied your topographical map, finding the mouth of Peters Canyon won't be difficult. It's simply the first canyon coming in on your right. It's slightly elevated, so you could miss it if you aren't paying attention. Your first view into Peters Canyon is impressive and should get the adrenaline kicking in.

The easy canyoneering soon gives way to a series of huge boulders. You can make it through with some good Tarzan abilities. I know nothing about climbing ratings. So let me put it this way... you will have to lift yourself in some funky twisting, blinding, comprising situations. There are two or three problems at most. Lucky you, on the left are some easier bypasses to each problem. If you want it easy, there's a use-trail that skirts the whole problematic situation altogether. I didn't figure this out on my first attempt. I'm kind of glad too because you miss the boulders all together, and they are impressive.

Just past the boulders you are greeted by a gray/white section of washboard granite. It's a pleasant visual site. Plus, it's nice in the fact that you can stroll across this section quickly after the slow going so far. Near the end of this section or when the first leaning saguaro on the right appears is a landmark of sorts. You won't know it until further down the canyon. Looking back it's a face. Did I mention this canyon is filled to the brim with "Lost Dutchman" legends? Read Stewart & Carlson's "Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness" for more information.

Continue, the going isn't difficult, but it isn't quick either. The canyon bends lightly to the left then sharply to the right. You'll see the cave on your right a little ways up from the canyon floor. It's not completely visible from the canyon below. A steep but very short scramble gets you up to the cave. This is the turnaround point for this description and a moderate day hike. Return the same way.

From the cave you get a great view further up the canyon. If you're more adventurous, the next half mile of the canyon is very impressive! If you're extremely adventurous, you might try jumping the ridge over to Tortilla Canyon. This puts you in a prime location to return through Tortilla Canyon's impressive section. I didn't jump the ridge myself, so you're on your own. It appears possible on this side, but I can't say for the flip side. By the way... If you plan on staying at the Tortilla Flats Resort while in the area, bring your own sheets!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2002-01-02 joebartels
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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
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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