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Cave Trail #233, AZ

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Guide 293 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
4 of 5 by 75
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1.85 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,930 feet
Elevation Gain 860 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,030 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.28
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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5  2019-05-02
Peralta to Fremont Saddle
6  2019-03-23
Robbers Roost - Superstitions
8  2019-03-09
Superstition Mnts - SW / Wild Horse Wall
6  2019-03-05
Weaver's Needle Crosscut
16  2019-03-01
Cave-Weaver's Crosscut-Bluff Springs
9  2019-01-21
Peralta to Fremont Saddle
3  2018-11-30 jtaylor
6  2018-11-03
Peralta - Cave Trail Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 20
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:29pm
Official Route
39 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
What Trail?
by joebartels

06/14/03 Update
This trail has gained considerable popularity over the years. Cairns may keep you on track if you pay attention. Like the Flatiron & Ridgeline you may be able to complete this trek with less route finding skills than mentioned below.

Route is difficult to follow & potentially dangerous

The popular 4.75mi / 1540aeg loop described below starts on the Peralta Trail.

Welcome to the most talked about trail, that doesn't exist. Yep, it's the Cave Trail. Several sections are bare rock, which makes it difficult to follow. You need to be familiar with Peralta Canyon and pay attention to your line of travel. If you've hiked the Peralta Trail, you've seen the caves to the east on the yellow ridgeline. Although it's possible in theory, nobody really goes up this trail first attempt. Therefore, you'll need to hike up to Fremont saddle via the Peralta trail in order to come back down, on this, the Cave trail. Once you've mastered coming down the Cave trail, then you can think about going up, but not before!

Start out hiking the Peralta up to Fremont Saddle. On the way up the Peralta Trail, notice the caves up to your right. From Fremont Saddle take a right, which takes you in a northeast direction. You're heading over to the ridge that extends out to Weavers Needle. It's easy to identify. There is only one pine tree at the end. Arizona Highways loves to photograph this tree. This is inline with the Cave trail ridge. The cave trail sits on a ridge with Peralta Canyon on the southwest and Barks Canyon on the northeast. To make it easier I'll refer to the ridge as if it runs perfectly north and south.

There is no signage indicating the turnoff for the Cave Trail. I find it easier to head out on to Weavers Outlook Ridge. Coming back you're naturally inline with the Cave Trail. Now onto the Cave Trail. You're hiking on the west side of the ridgeline that overlooks Peralta Canyon. You should be hiking on a slanted slab of rock. Within a couple minutes you should be able to look back at Fremont Saddle and down into Peralta Canyon. Hike a short distance to where the ridge drops off. You should be parallel with Pivot Rock. Here the ridge in front of you drops off and it seems impossible to continue. What you need to do is cross over to the east side of the ridge that overlooks Barks Canyon. You actually need to hike back north again. Now you can catch a switchback that will bring you back to the lower ridge.

You'll encounter an anvil. Here you have two options. If you take a left, you'll follow the Barks Canyon side and miss the caves. Either route works, but I'm explaining the Peralta side here. So take a right, it's more exciting. Soon you'll see two shallow caves. At first you'll be thinking these look awfully tiny. They are, and they aren't the caves you see from the Peralta Trail. Hike down and in front of the shallow caves. The trail appears to end abruptly. You're either looking down into Peralta Canyon or looking up a very steep rock face. Believe it or not you need to climb up this rock face. It really isn't that difficult. But, looking back down it seems impossible to return. So basically, you're committed to continue. Also looking straight back, you'll notice you're level with the shallow caves. Many years ago, on my first trip, I didn't think this was possible. I ended up taking the Barks Canyon route. It is possible. Just make sure you take the right gully going up.

Keep hiking south along the ridge to the caves. Along the way you'll need to switchback in order to gain elevation. There is no distinctive trail. Cairns usually help lead the way. It's unlikely you'd ever take the exact same approach. You can't wonder off to far without jumping off into Peralta Canyon, so don't worry about getting lost. You come to the caves, which are really medium size alcoves. The first is unimpressive. The next two step up consecutively. There is a heap of gold back in the corner. Just kidding, these aren't very impressive either. The trail is really more about scrambling and route finding then the actual caves themselves.

Now past the caves, you come to the Fortress. Looking down and out things begin to seem a little scary. Now would be a good time to write a will. Fold it into a paper airplane and launch it towards the trailhead. Well that won't work. The forest rangers tell you to pack out whatever you pack in. So, lets get you're carcass outta here and head on down. It's important to find the right gully, which is called the Devils Slide. In all honesty the Devils Slide isn't the bad part. So head on down. Soon you'll be at the Tub. Now you have a reason to be scared. The fact that climbers have bolted here gives you an idea of the pitch. You need to go over the edge. Basically you'll be hiking on your butt. So get on your butt and shimmy on down. Avoid the loose cracked surface, which I call chip plates. Your body has four points of contact, your hands and feet. Make sure you have a secure footing or grip before proceeding. This area here is a good reason to never do this hike when it's wet or raining. Teva sandals work best on this surface in my opinion. It's really no worse than playing around on the Papago Buttes in Phoenix. Well, with the exception you're out in the middle of nowhere! I got a leg cramp mid way down. Luckily, I survived.

Continuing down you'll see a little section of trail. In the distance you can see your next destination, Cathedral Rock. You need to go through a small valley to get there. The idea is to make it the right side of Cathedral Rock. The key is to follow the trail to Tongue Rock & the Four Saguaros. Go down on the right side of Tongue Rock, just to the right of the century plant. Continue down into the valley. You come to a point, at the bottom, where you almost drop into Peralta Canyon. Countless cairns on a boulder let you know to turn and head back up. Next, work your way up to the right side of Cathedral Rock. Look back at the Fortress and see what you've accomplished. Now, pass through a small maze of boulders going around Cathedral Rock. When you come out of the maze, look up to your left for an awesome view. I noticed climbers have recently bolted to this wall. Keep in mind it's illegal to bolt in the Superstitions.

Past Cathedral Rock things start looking easier. You'll be hiking away from Peralta Canyon. Miners Needle can be seen in the distance. At one instance you can see the parking lot in the distance. It's still a good half hour away. The trail, although not maintained, is fairly obvious. There is one last hurrah through a low lying boulder field. It seems like it would be much more difficult to follow this area going in the opposite direction. Life seems good when you hook up with the Bluff Springs Trail #235. Note the surroundings, for those that wish to run the trail in opposite direction. Its 0.7 miles, about twenty minutes, back to the trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2001-01-05 joebartels
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One-Way Notice
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.
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 82 deeper Triplog Reviews
Cave Trail #233
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Dacite Roost Cave
You can't go wrong with this hike on a nice crystal clear cool day. The climb up to West Boulder Saddle gets the blood circulating and opens up the pores. Always a great feeling when you reach the saddle. Everything to come is easy in comparison.

The route to the Roost through the boulders and hoodoos is unique as is Robbers Roost itself. From there it's an easy geologically impressive trek to Fremont Saddle, the pine tree, and on down one of my favorites the Cave Trail.

Wonderful day. Great company. :)
Cave Trail #233
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Dacite Roost Cave
Kelly invited John and I to get out for a hike. I've only been out for a couple of easy hikes since the new year so I wanted to do something hard. Plan A was 5057, my suggestion, but it was clear early that I didn't have the conditioning to get me there. So we settled on something fun instead.

From the Carney Springs TH we hiked up the WB saddle, then headed west toward Robbers Roost, played around in there a bit, continued down to Fremont Saddle, out to the Weavers Needle overlook, then back on the Cave Trail to the Peralta TH where Kelly managed to find us a ride back to the car. We would have finished the loop on foot, but I was toast and we all knew it.

I played catch up most of the hike, hence the lower break time in my trip log than Kelly's. I knew it would be difficult after a long layoff, but not this difficult. I have some work to do.

Kelly and John, thank you for a fun time, and thank you for your patience. In spite of the pain and struggles, I really did have a great time.
Cave Trail #233
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Dacite Roost Cave
the plan b hike we did today most closely resembles the dacite super loop with a couple of detours
got going around 0700
up to west boulder saddle - i had forgotten how much fun that is
decided along the way to hit robbers roost and go down the cave trail
i've only been on the section between west boulder saddle and fremont saddle once
really enjoyed seeing it again, especially the visit to robbers roost
great geology, rock formations and views from up there
went out to the pinyon tree for a snack break
surprised to have it to ourselves
returned on cave and bluff springs trails
could see the hordes on peralta :o
since we had parked at carney, we hitched a ride from peralta, not wanting to walk the dusty dirt road
carney was the usual circus full of wave cavers
hadn't been on any of these trails in a few years
nice morning for some exploration and great scenery with ray and john
thanks, guys :)

Cave Trail #233
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It was steep at times.

Had the all stars with me today for this trek into the Superstitions. Jan, Carey, Maria, and Yolanda. My second time up Carney Springs to Robbers Roost then over to Cave trail for my first (and successful) attempt. We made good time up Carney and was passed by a large group from the Arizona Mountaineering Club doing Ridgeline. Meet one lone hiking at Robbers Roost who came up Peralta. Cautiously made our way down Cave trail thanks to first hand knowledge of my teammates and route info from HAZ. Definitely made good use of the GPS tracks for this one! Fantastic day in the Sups!
Cave Trail #233
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Ben, Marilyn, Marilyn, and I hiked the Dacite Super Loop on Sunday.

As we were hiking Lost Goldmine, we encountered another group coming back toward us who had overshot the turnoff for the Wave Cave. Checking the track on my GPS watch, I found out that we had overshot it too. Our groups hiked together for a time. We found the Carney Spring Trail and, a short while later, I showed them where the fork for the Wave Cave was.

The trip up Carney Spring Trail was uneventful, though both Ben and I had forgotten that there was a false summit part way up.

After turning off of Carney Spring Trail, we got off track - twice. In both instances, I noticed fairly quickly that we were off track and, for the second one, we also returned to the correct trail fairly quickly. But on that first occurrence, we decided follow the cairns for a ways to see where they led. We ended up in a drainage that was north (and on the other side of a ridge) from the drainage that we should have been in. The cairns seemed to be leading up to a shallow saddle which, I think, would have joined up with the the trail down to Fremont Saddle. However, in one of my other hikes of the area, I had taken a look at (what I believe to be) the descent for this diversion. It was steeper than I felt that the group I was with would be comfortable. So, instead, I hiked up to the ridge to see if we could get back on track without totally backtracking. While on the ridge contemplating the steepness down, I noticed a cool double arch to my left - I took a photo. Deciding that the way down might be too steep, we ended up backtracking to get back on track.

Back on track... we made our way down to Fremont Saddle, skipping the side trip to Robber's Roost.

We then got onto the Cave Trail and made the side trip to the pine tree to view Weaver's Needle. Continuing on, we took a look at the caves and then had fun descending the Devil's Slide. We got slightly off track for a third time - again following some decent looking cairns - but soon got back on track again.

Our descent of the Bluff Springs Trail was uneventful, though it did seem rockier than I remembered.

It was a really fun loop hike - getting off track a few times made it all the more fun!
Cave Trail #233
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Waves Caves and a Roost
I started at Lost Goldmine TH. This is a variation of the Dacite Super Loop, but instead of taking the first leg up to West Boulder Saddle, I took the Wave Cave trail and then followed the draw to the top. The weather was cool at the start, a bit humid under overcast skies. I had extra layers on for the bushwhack up the draw, so I was happy to have clouds and cool temps.

My conditioning stinks after a long layoff, so I didn't know how this would go. While I had a great time taking in several of the Peralta classics, this hike kicked my pumpkin every which way but loose. I had several bailouts along the way, the first just turning around at the Wave Cave (I was tempted), but I chose to grind it out and take in all of the sights. Glad I did.

With the big crowds that visit the Wave Cave, I expected to see some trash up there, but it was spotless. The bushwhack up the draw wasn't bad if you don't mind rock hopping and pushing through some brush.

Once on top I picked up the ridgeline trail and headed to the WB Saddle where I stopped to eat and soak in the views before heading to Robbers Roost. The Roost is always an interesting adventure. The enormous rock formations in that area are a sight to behold. The leg to Fremont Saddle always seems to be more up than down. Gets me every time.

Fremont Saddle was dotted with the usual crowds. I didn't stop, opting to head to the Weavers overlook and a lunch break. It was nearly as crowded there. I found a rocky perch away from the crowd and ate my lunch. The overcast skies had given way to partly cloudy. The hoodoos above Peralta Canyon were bathed in bright sunshine one moment, than in shadows the next, providing stunning views as sun and shadows alternated down the canyon.

When I finished lunch, getting up was not so easy. I sat too long and was stiff as a board. Time to get moving. The Cave Trail was a delight, as always. The alcove with the numerous cairns had been tossed the last time I was here. It was nice to see that it had been restored. I call it the trinket room because of the way the teeny cairns are displayed along the ledges in the alcove.

As I made my final leg down Bluff Springs, I could see the Peralta TH and was thankful to be done. Then I realized I had another half mile walk to the Lost Goldmine lot. Ugh. Rather than do the road walk, I headed into the brush behind the restrooms and worked my way to the Don's Camp. Seems like a great place. I wonder why it isn't used anymore.

Great hike. I brought 3 liters of fluids and drank all of it, running out just as I arrived at the parking lot. Perfect.
Cave Trail #233
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I figured today might be just about the end of the hiking season for the Supes. Tomorrow would have been better, if there isn't much rain, but I had a prior engagement scheduled.

I hit the trail at 6:00am and didn't have an actual route in mind. I started on the Dutchman's trail then cut across on the Don's trail to the Bluff Spring trail. Then took the Cave trail Up to Weaver's Overlook. On other hikes I had noticed a trail heading east off the Weaver's Overlook trail. So I figured what the heck... I should have had a GPS route to follow, but I assumed it would lead to Barks Canyon and Bluff Springs trail.

All went well for just under a mile. Then any sign of a trail disappeared along with any cairns. I was in a stream bed and figured it had to be a tributary to Barks. The last half mile was so full of boulders, cat's claw, holly and other vegetation a half mile took over an hour of fighting my way through. I finally made it to Barks and then the Bluff Spring trail.

The wildflowers were fantastic. Every color of the rainbow. Saw a gila monster. Until about the last mile I never saw another human.
Cave Trail #233
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I plan on leading a hike of the Robber's Roost Loop in a few weeks and decided that I had better take a look at the descent from West Boulder Saddle to Fremont Saddle in addition to the Cave Trail, neither of which I've done before.

We hiked Peralta to Fremont Saddle and then hiked the trail leading to West Boulder Saddle. We continued on to the "roost" on the Robber's Roost route. The only issue we encountered on this section was a line of cairns leading up too early. This may have been a shortcut, but we didn't pursue it.

Having done this section, our return to Fremont Saddle was uneventful. Route finding was considerably easier than I expected it to be from reading the Dacite Super Loop description. (Having a good GPS track helps immensely with navigation.)

Upon our return to Fremont Saddle, we started on the Cave Trail, deviating to the NNW to enjoy the view of Weaver's Needle. Route finding on the Cave Trail was surprisingly easy and there weren't any technical challenges until we reached the top of Devil's Slide. Neither Bob nor I found this section to be difficult or even scary, but there's a convex slab ("Bald Man's Forehead") which has enough exposure to (perhaps) be terrifying for one of the hikers that will accompany us on the Robber's Roost hike in a few weeks. Now, to be perfectly clear, this section is not hard. Despite seeming to be steep (which it really isn't), there are some really good footholds nicely spaced all the way down. That said, despite the good footholds, it may seem next to impossible to somehow who is terrified of moderate exposure.

Once we got to the bottom of this section, the trail continues in a southerly direction. However, we noticed a trail w/ cairns leading north. We followed this trail and found that it went back up some lower angled slabs a little further north and then west. The trail then continued south leading us back to the top of Devil's Slide.


For those who don't like the steepness or exposure of Devil's Slide and Bald Man's Head / Forehead, there is a less steep, less exposed way down. From the top of Devil's Slide (which, if you take the slide leads downwards towards ESE), climb upwards perhaps six feet or so to gain some ledges which will lead you north. As you hike along these ledges watch for a low angle slab leading downward. When we where there, there was a prominent cairn in the middle of the slab. Then, make your way down the slickrock slab using whatever path you like the best. (There are several good options here.) At the bottom of the slab, you'll find a bush lined trail leading east. Continue over broken terrain w/ some slick rock in a southerly direction (following the cairns) until you reach the bottom of the Devil's Slide / Bald Man's Forehead area. From there, you'll be able to continue on the Cave Trail.

The rest of the Cave Trail leading down to Bluff Springs Trail was largely uneventful - we did get off track a couple of times, but managed to figure it out without much difficulty.
Cave Trail #233
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Cave Weavers Robbers Loop
Enjoyed the route, the weather I could do without. Bruce covered our day top to bottom.

Putting this route together I was looking to extend Robbers as much as possible. Rain hampered the mega loop so we stuck with a respectable loop. The key to the loop was getting down from Weaver's Overlook to Terrapin. Low and behold I stumbled upon a route by @juliachaos that helped bridge the gap!

Heading north on Weaver's Overlook Route Scout showed the turn coming up soon. My waypoint rattled off turn into the abyss. Surprisingly the turn was cairned and looked well traveled. Tensions eased a touch. With all the recent rain everything was very green. The route is fairly well cairned with a hiccup or two. We wanted to follow it out but needed to get over to Terrapin in the Crosscut vicinity.

After a busy week I stumbled upon the rest of the story... backwards. @Nonot has a great description for Barks Canyon - Complete Route. Soon that led me to @Fritzski on his Barks Upper Canyon Loop. Which in turn he put together from the Grand Poobah Jack Carlson.

Based on the above two mentioned descriptions the route off Weaver's Overlook down to Barks used to be a bloodbath. I faired well in shorts. Abandoning the route directly over to Terrapin there was one nasty section. Bruce led since he wore pants. I followed step by step without issue. The route down was more fun than a concern. Hope to explore the area more someday.

Paint brush, blue dicks, fairy duster among others. Saw a bunch underway that could bust a move in a week and change the horizon.
Cave Trail #233
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Cave Weavers Robbers Loop
We did this loop starting from the Lost Goldmine Trailhead. The first car in the lot, shared only with 20+ porta-potties for Sunday's marathon.

We opted for a CCW loop, starting on Bluff Springs #235. This is always a good way to get the heart started first thing in the morning, climbing cardiac hill.

I'd never been on the Cave Trail #235 going this direction. I think I like it better. Lots of interesting rock formations, the Devils Bathtub and then climbing up the Devils Slide. The cairn collection seems to have been slimmed down at "The Cave".

Joe found us a well cairned and used track down the east side into Barks Canyon. We tried to play out the well used path, but it started taking us in the wrong direction. We reversed our direction and bushwhacked over to Bluff Saddle.

Now on Terrapin #234, the off and on rain, was on for a while now. This trail has seen a very recent and welcomed trimming.

On the Dutchman #104, we were looking for some shelter from the rain and wind to have some lunch. No luck.

It finally let up a bit on Peralta #234 enough to have a brief bite.

Also the first time climbing to the Robbers Roost from Peralta, a nice change up. We had the Roost to ourselves.

The sky was starting to get noticeably darker. Starting down my least favorite trail in the Supes, West Boulder Saddle, the deluge hit. Nothing like hiking down a steep, loose, rocky path, while holding an umbrella with glasses that are fogged up.

Another fun day in the Supes....

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Peralta Trailhead
7.6 miles east of the junction Idaho Rd / US-60. Turn Left on to FS77 which is Peralta Road. Follow FS77 5.6 miles to a left and up turnoff. Continue 1.9 miles to Peralta Trailhead.

The trailhead has restrooms minus running water. The parking lot is huge. It does fill up in season on weekends. Since there are no lines the rangers ask that you park straight between the posts in the main lot. Please do your part with this simple request and make room for the next guy. 0.5 miles before reaching the trailhead is an overflow lot which is also suited for horse trailer parking.

From PHX (Jct I-10 & AZ-51) 45.2 mi - about 1 hour 8 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 97.0 mi - about 2 hours 16 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 192 mi - about 3 hours 15 mins
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
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