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Barks Lower Canyon Loop, AZ

no permit
958 113 2
Guide 113 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
3.9 of 5 by 28
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,400 feet
Elevation Gain 640 feet
Accumulated Gain 900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.5
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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8  2019-03-03 KBKB
27  2017-01-02 stoner
10  2016-12-24 juliachaos
4  2016-11-08 Fritzski
9  2015-01-11 War247
13  2015-01-06 snakemarks
14  2014-11-16 NatureKopelli
22  2014-09-28 snakemarks
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author Fritzski
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 0
Photos 597
Trips 59 map ( 132 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Surprising solitude
by Fritzski

This hike offers a lot of "bang for the buck"! Normally it is necessary to substantially penetrate the Wilderness for descent returns. At only about four miles round trip, this is a rare example of close in quality. I would consider it almost on par with the Cave Trail (always a favorite) but less strenuous and much easier to follow. It is so nice in fact, I wondered if it was wise to post it. Then, if it is hiked responsibly, I really would like to see other hikers enjoying this beautiful little canyon.

Starting from the Peralta trailhead, take the Bluff Spring trail up "Cardiac Hill", past the Cave Trail intersection to the top, and then down the other side to the bottom where it first crosses the creek bed. Here you depart the trail and head south through the bottom of the wash following it several miles till you intersect the Dutchman Trail in Barkley Basin which then takes you back to the trailhead.

History: "Barks" Canyon is not to be confused with "Barkley" Basin. Barkley Basin, present home of the Quarter Circle U Ranch has been the continuous headquarters of ranching operations for well over a century.

Jim Bark, after whom the canyon is named, bought the ranch in 1891, the same year that the "Dutchman" Jacob Waltz died. It is he who has been attributed with coining the phrase "Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine" around 1893. With his well-known partner Sims Ely, he was an active "Dutch hunter" for many years. He claims to have actually met Julia Thomas and Rheinhart Petrasch camping near an old well on his ranch. It was they who cared for Waltz until his death, claimed to have directions to the mine, stumbled unprepared into the mountains in mid summer, and thus inaugurated the famous search that still lasts today.

William "Tex" Barkley then came along and acquired the ranch in 1907, gave it the "Quarter Circle U" name that still stands today and eventually also acquired First Water Ranch just to the north where his son Bill lived. It was then sold it in 1955 and it was during those final years that author and historian Tom Kollenberg worked for Tex on the ranch. Although Barkley had more than passing interest in the search for the lost mine and welcomed many a Dutch hunter through his ranch over the years, he was probably best known as a prominent figure in the many Sheriff's posses and search parties heading into the Superstitions over the years.

Hike: This is the simple part. From the point just over a mile in, where Bluff Spring trail crosses the wash at the bottom of Barks Canyon it is simply a matter of following the creek bed all the way south to the Dutchman trail. I saw no cairns or footprints through the numerous sandy areas testifying to the unexpected solitude of this of this seldom used canyon. The wash is easy to follow with only minor rock hopping and only one small spot of thick bush. Route finding is a cinch as the canyon presents only a singular route. However, with various paths to choose from through the bottom, I suggest varying from side to side to follow the more interesting terrain features as you go along. The sides are alternately lined with small cliffs and numerous smooth rock areas seeming to grow more and more interesting as you proceed. Despite the extremely dry conditions present at the time, there were numerous large pools of water along the way.

As you approach the 2.5mi point where the basin starts coming into view, look ahead for reddish colored mine tailings spilling forth about 100 yards up the slope on your left. It cannot be seen from directly beneath so you need to spot it as you are approaching from up stream. This tunnel is shown on Tom Kollenborn's map in Helen Corbin's book "The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold" as being Charles Crawford's camp. No date is given and I don't know if this was a producing mine or merely a prospect. It does go back for a long distance into the mountain possibly indicating a "mine", on the other hand, it is in a very straight line, and that would indicate a "prospect". It does however finally fork at point where the bats were getting thick and I lost the courage to proceed. This may indicate the start of a "drift", or the point at which they possibly began to follow a vein of whatever ore they were seeking. It never ceases to amaze me the amount back breaking work that must have been involved in those hellish conditions to move that much solid rock by hand.

Soon after passing the mine, the canyon begins to open up into the Barkley Basin. Continue to follow the widening wash a short distance to the well-worn and easily spotted crossing of the Dutchman trail. From there it is a short one mile cruise back to the trailhead.

An option for the diehard who may want a bit more strenuous hike would be to add what I'll call the "Mid Barks" section. To do this, initially remain on Bluff Spring trail going north until you reach the Terrapin trail intersection. It is here that you now follow the same creek bed south but add on about 1.5 miles extra total distance and a bit more rugged terrain.

The best part is shortly downstream of the intersection where you will encounter a lengthy and steep series of cascading pools carved into the smooth rock beneath sheer walls. You then enter a beautiful, but dense thicket of trees at the bottom that requires a bit of determination to penetrate. From here you basically parallel Bluff Spring trail and eventually merge onto it as you approach the previously described starting point.

As I mentioned at the outset, I sometimes agonize over whether to publicly post some material given the virgin or delicate nature of a certain area. I realize there are good arguments both ways. I have listened to many and I'm still listening. Anyone reading this description should feel welcome to voice their opinion on this matter below as a "Triplog", or directly on the "HAZ Forum".

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2002-02-17 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 33 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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.
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Made the loop with no navigational issues thanks to the route I downloaded on my GPS. The description is sufficient to complete the hike as there really isn't any way to get off track but having the route on the GPS made me less anxious about missing the intersection with the Dutchman trail on the way out of the creek bed.

    We finished the loop in roughly 4 hours with some minor scrapes and bruises from the rock hopping/bushwacking. The water level and flow were really high with the recent rain which made the canyon more beautiful but also far more difficult to navigate. My 15 yr old was in heaven but my wife may never go off trail with me again. :lol: To be fair, the rock hopping was far easier for my son and I that are both 6'4" - at 5'2" my wife had a harder time using the same route as us and ended up with a lot of water in her shoes.

    Looking forward to doing this again at some point when there is less water.
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    The skies were threatening water, and Claire and I needed a cool hike that would take advantage of that. Gotta love water in the desert. Barks is one of my favorite places, and it's got options for hikes from a couple hours to a full day. We went the opposite direction of how I usually go, getting Cardiac out of the way at the beginning. There were rangers at the trailhead, checking to make sure hikers starting out knew where they were going. We flew up the hill and were treated to views of the canyon and wash ahead. Eventually dipping down into it and boulder-hopping over the flowing water. Kivah definitely had a better time than when we went to Reavis Falls last year. She was able to do most of the rock-hopping herself, and even gave in to the water here and there. When the canyon walls began to disappear, we looked for the easiest way up the walls of the wash and scrambled out, heading across the desert and to the Dutchman Trail. Kivah chased a rabbit for a couple minutes, then followed us out. We walked along the trail above the trailhead, and got some nice views of the opposing cliffs against the clouds and impending dust storm. The weather on the drive back made us glad we left the mountain when we did.
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Peralta trailhead was jam-packed as usual. Couldn't find a spot to park at the main lot so had to turn around and park a little farther down. It was brisk out, but not cold enough that I wanted to bring a sweater, which I started to regret because it was pretty darn chilly when the wind picked up. Once I started up the first hill on the Bluff Springs trail I wasnt cold anymore, and my heart was beating pretty good at the top - pretty good work out.

    I came across lot of friendly people on the Bluff Springs trail. Ran across a boy scout troop going out for an overnight trip and another group that invited me to Weaver's crosscut with them which was very nice. But I had my own plans!

    Finally made it to the off trail portion of the Lower loop and took a little break to eat some peanuts and familiarize myself with the surroundings on the topo map. I should probably get a new/better map, the topo lines on the one I have are pretty small and hard to read.

    Inside Barks Canyon was as beautiful as the weather. I had to stop and sit again to just enjoy the surroundings. The wind blowing through the trees/bushes and the sound of the water tricking was very relaxing, I sat a while and enjoyed the solitude.

    Farther into the canyon the terrain got a little rough and I found myself hopping from rock to rock for most of the remainder of the hike. I was glad I didn't bring my pooch along with me for this one, he would have had a terrible time trying to get through there.

    Now it's time to relax and figure out where I'm going to explore next weekend :y:
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Denny mentioned he was taking lil D to Peralta. I told him they should take the Cave trail back for variety and lack of people. Denny wasn't comfortable with the route finding on Cave. Since I've hiked it a few more times than Denny, I joined the Turtles for the hike. We threw in lower Barks for added interest.

    Most of the cairns on the Cave trail are gone and the late summer rains have led to lots of new plant growth, making route finding a little trickier than normal. The water flow in lower Barks Canyon is just a trickle. I was expecting to see a decent flow after Thursdays rain. Still a cool place though.

    Great hiking weather. Always fun to hike with the D's. Nice to see the Cards play better too. :)
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Since our last hike to Barks Canyon a couple of years ago, this year's rains covered the canyon with considerable undergrowth, we almost didn't recognize it. We took the dogs on this hike, but I wouldn't recommend it, not with the large boulder hopping. Also it maybe a bit difficult for small children.

    We encountered many pools of water, fall wildflowers still in bloom and beautiful swarms of butterflies (and bees). Tarantulas were plentiful as well. The canyon seems to go on forever, but fortunately with the HAZ Tracks app and some spotty cell service along with a printed map, we were still aware of our location. The exiting trail from the canyon -- the Dutchman Trail #104 -- is clearly evident and comes just as the canyon opens up into desert.

    Nice, scenic creek hike but a knee-burner, unless you're fond of boulder hopping.
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After all the rain we've had this month, there was plenty of water out there. Peralta Road is really trashed - washed out, filled with rocks and there was a downed tree blocking one side. No running water, but still some deep puddles, which spanned the entire width of the road.

    Barks Canyon is now heavily overgrown with invasive weeds and nasty vegetation, which obscures the water view and makes hiking much more difficult. I had to wade through a football field of dense fountain grass that was waist high. I'm glad I didn't run into any of gummo's snakes. I did come across a ravaged deer carcass about halfway down the creek. I imagine the high grass provides good cover for a mountain lion. I spent the rest of the hike looking behind me. :scared:

    Brittlebush and a few Globemallow
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Cave Trail Bark's Canyon Loop
    I hadn't been through most of upper Barks Canyon before and Kelly wanted to get home early to watch basketball, so this was our choice for the day.

    Kelly spotted a big horn sheep ram near the cairn factory on the Cave trail. I saw him flash by and we could hear his hooves clomping as he jumpeed from rock to rock below us. Very cool.

    We climbed on top of Geronimo's Cave, nice views. Upon completing the Cave trail, we started bushwhacking down into upper Bark's only to find a cairned route, which surprised me. We had a nice time following the creek down to the Dutchman with little difficulty or brushy encounters. We both wore shorts and were not sorry.

    Pleasant hike. Some new mixed in with the old. Thanks Kelly! :)

    Lupine, poppy, desert chickory, buckwheat, hedgehog cactus...
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Cave Trail Bark's Canyon Loop
    john suggested this combo a couple weeks ago to put on our list
    thought we would try it today
    we were surprised to see the peralta parking area less than half full
    started up bluff springs trail a little before 8:00
    went up cave trail, which i haven't done, although i've been down it three times
    a different perspective and route-finding issues than going down
    almost to the cave, caught movement and turned to find a big horn ram dropping quickly out of our view
    no pic, but an awesome sight :)
    decided to scramble up on top of geronimo's cave
    great views from the northern top out; the southern one looks a little higher
    one concern was finding the entry point to upper bark's canyon from the cave trail
    i had two tracks loaded but we found a good use trail with plenty of cairns dropping down into the canyon
    from there we followed the drainage, trying to stay on rock rather than go through sticker bushes
    one sketchy downclimb for me and a few patches of catsclaw and scrub oak
    the bushwhacking was not bad at all
    reached the bluff springs trail crossings and saw our first people of the day near the peralta rock (another landmark i hadn't seen)
    continued into lower bark's canyon
    the least water i've seen here, but still enough little pools and several bedrock areas with flowing water to make it worthwhile
    took dutchman trail back
    the full canyon was an experience
    not sure we took the same line as other tracks
    my posted route looks a lot like chumley's
    nice day, high clouds, a good breeze, plenty of solitude
    some new stuff and good company made for a fun day
    Barks Lower Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    There was still a fair amount of water going down the canyon after Saturday's rain, but not enough to keep me from being distracted into some off-trail exploring. Not the best time of year for that with the snakes out and about, but I was ever mindful and didn't see any until I was back on the Dutchman, where one was just off to the side about 2 feet from the trail.

    A little further up, I saw the well eaten carcass of a deer at the bottom of a hillside right next to the trail. After climbing the hill and looking around, I found a few more bones and noticed that the whole area is heavily scent marked. This is actually quite close to the trailhead - I'm talking about the hills on the south side of the Dutchman between the high point where you start heading down toward Barkley Basin and probably as far as Coffee Flat (since another deer carcass was spotted along the Dutchman near there earlier in the season). A cat has been seen at the Quarter Circle U Ranch just to the south from as far back as a year ago, so this sounds like established territory and it likes to hang out on the hills above you as you walk down the Dutchman. Just FYI.

    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
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