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Garden Valley Loop, AZ

no permit
1.2k 205 2
Guide 205 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.2 of 5 by 49
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,300 feet
Elevation Gain -226 feet
Accumulated Gain 660 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.55
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2019-04-20 Daytripper
5  2019-04-04 RickVincent
3  2019-01-07 peripatetic
5  2018-12-31 PJackalope
16  2018-10-24 Yoder
10  2018-08-18 Esikes
1  2018-08-17 RickVincent
4  2018-08-09 RickVincent
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 13
Author Kelli Pearl
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 10
Trips 4 map ( 0 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
Official Route
10 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Prehistoric Indian Ruins
by Kelli Pearl

Walk about 0.3 miles down a dirt road to the Dutchman's/Second Water Trail. Take the Second Water Trail east (left). Cross First Water Creek bed (which will most likely be dry) and continue on well-marked trail to Garden Valley. No route finding skills are necessary on this trail, and most hikers will enjoy the rock and sometimes boulder filled paths. You will have no doubt you've arrived in Garden Valley because the entire area is flat and covered with mesquite trees and chain fruit cholla cactus. In the middle of the Valley, you will come to the intersection of Second Water Trail/Black Mesa Trail. Just past the sign, you will see a mound of rocks, overgrown with grass and palo verde trees. This is the ruins of a prehistoric stone house, and the place where you can find red pottery shards and metates (grinding holes) in the rock floor.

From here you can take the unmarked horse trail continuing west to Hackberry Spring. Look toward the hillside when you get below the trail and the ravine to see evidence of old mine diggings. There are alternate return routes you can take, but we did this as an out and back. It's surprising how much beauty you find you missed when you're heading downhill.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2002-03-01 Kelli Pearl
    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 47 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Garden Valley Loop
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    Took the alternate route north after Garden Valley (to arrive at Hackberry Spring from the north). Beautiful clear cool day (high in the low 60s). As much water as I can recall seeing on any Superstitions hike thanks to the abundance of rain on the two days prior: Lots of mud on the trail in Garden Valley and First Water creek (in the shallow canyon just north of the corrals and windmill) was flowing audibly.
    Garden Valley Loop
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    Made it out to the Superstition Mountains for the first time since the 90's (damn I'm feeling old). Drove an hour and got out right at sunrise, temperature was already 85 degrees. The trail is nice at the beginning. It's well defined and clean. But becomes very rocky once you're into the riverbed (which is to be expected) so watch your step, it would be very easy to twist an ankle. The first mile and a half I was in total shade due to the valley. I never saw or heard anyone else on the trail so the only bothersome thing out was the mosquitoes. In several places there was standing water from the recent storms - hence the mosquitoes - with loads of tadpoles swimming around. The only other wildlife I saw, was what I thought, were a couple of small Gartersnakes. It moves quickly across my path and I barely had time to snap a bury picture. The second one I saw was swimming in one of the larger puddles but he never kept his head out long enough for a picture, so I moved on.

    I enjoyed hike. Four out of five stars from me. There was nothing strenuous about it. The hardest part if I had to pick one would be like all the others, the hike up out of the canyon, but this wasn't bad at all. With the sun on your back about this time, temps now in the 90's, makes it harder than it is. I did take extra water with me on this hike simply because I haven't been out this way in such a long time, and I'm glad I did. With a 3 liter hydration bladder, I took any extra liter of water as well. I finished the hydration bladder coming up that last hill. With less then a mile to go, most on the road heading back to the parking area, I drank half of the last litter because I knew I was done. So it worked out.
    Garden Valley Loop
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    Started at First Water TH. This was my first time doing the Hackberry/Garden Valley Loop in a clockwise direction. Left trail head heading back up the road to the trail turn off to the right (leading towards old windmill and stable). Down into the first creek bed, then through the canyon at Hackberry. Started the loop towards the south and up through Garden Valley. Turned right at Second Water Trail and finished up back at First Water TH where I parked.
    Garden Valley Loop
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    A trip log by johnmc22 a few weeks back got me interested in heading out to Second Water Canyon for a look around. Like all of the other canyons nearby, a little more water would have been better, but it was nice as it was.

    A very late start for me (10:30am) put me in the Horse Lot as the First Water lot was full. I decided to take in Hackberry Spring and Garden Valley along the way. Knowing how much my friend AZLumberjack likes the areas along this route, I decided to take a few extra pictures for him to peruse while he's working that brand new knee into shape.

    While the lots were near capacity, I didn't see too many hikers on the route I took. I took a back door into Hackberry Spring because I thought the normal route would be busy. Most of the hikers I crossed paths with were coming down the hill from Garden Valley on the way to Hackberry Spring. There was a large boy scout contingent set up at the windmill/corral down the hill from the horse lot. The boys didn't hike far and had way too much energy (IMO) as I passed through the corral area.

    The weather on this fine day was absolutely spectacular. I would have stayed out all day, but I had to be home in time for the St. Paddy's day festivities. That was pretty good, too.
    Garden Valley Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Too nice a day to stay home. The group thought Black Mesa might be too far for Charlie the dog so we opted for the shorter Garden Valley Loop - I'd never walked this nice short loop before.

    Stopped at the Garden Valley ruin and noticed the pottery pieces seemed a lot fewer than I remembered. A passing hiker recommended a visit to Hackberry Spring so we poked around up there. Not sure we exactly saw the spring but it's a nice area.

    Beautiful weather knowing the rest of the country is freezing.
    Garden Valley Loop
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    Since tibber had her birthday party scheduled for this weekend at Lost Dutchman State Park. and things were supposed to kick off Friday afternoon, I figured I would do a shorter hike in the Superstition Mountains.

    It’s been three years since I last did the Garden Valley-Hackberry Spring Loop, and I hadn’t previously done a hike video on it, so it fit the bill. :D

    Oregon_Hiker (Larry) — who I’d last hiked Little Four Peaks with two years ago — heard about my plans, so we scheduled to meet up at the First Water Trailhead at 8:00 a.m.

    Rather than take the less trafficked Red Mountain Freeway, I took US-60 east because that’s where the Waffle House is, at the Idaho Rd. exit in Apache Junction. I love Waffle House, and almost always get biscuits & gravy with a side of hashbrowns. I don’t eat there often, but this time I realized they have an evil concoction called the Hash Brown Bowl: Large, scattered, hash browns covered in melted cheese with crumbled sausage and two scrambled eggs. Which I got peppered and country, basically combining my usual into one massive bowl. Try as I might, I couldn’t finish it.

    When I arrived at the First Water Trailhead, Oregon_Hiker was waiting for me, as was AZLumberjack, who I’ve hiked with since 2011, on the First Water Upper Creek Loop. Jack knows the First Water area better than anyone, but he couldn’t go with us due to a knee flare up.

    On the short climb up to Garden Valley, we ran into a hiker from Flagstaff, who we ended up talking to about snakes for 25 minutes. :lol:

    After checking out the arch, I led Larry a bit astray before we returned to the main trail. 8-[

    When we reached the saddle between the mine and Hackberry Spring, it was 11:00 a.m. and already getting uncomfortably warm. Oregon_Hiker and I briefly discussed our options: Head directly towards the old ranch; explore the mine, then head to Hackberry Spring; or simply head to the spring. Because of the heat, we skipped the mine, continuing towards Hackberry. A half mile past the saddle, the trail reaches the only shade on this loop, for which Larry and I were both very grateful.

    At Hackberry Spring, the surrounding vegetation was, as usual, stained flourescent purple. What causes that? The water smelled like rotten eggs. What causes that? There were a ton of bees by the pool, but thankfully they stayed on one side, leaving us alone on the other while Oregon_Hiker and I took a short break.

    After our break, we continued up First Water Creek. We skipped the old ranch because ... heat.

    Just before returning to Trail #236, I spotted a dead, dessicated, deer. Yeah, I picked up some dead parts. :D

    It was 93° when Larry and I got back to the trailhead. Too hot.

    After some quick refreshments, and a change of shoes, we headed off to tibber’s birthday party, where we exchanged war stories with HAZ's good & great. Thanx for Saturday dinner, tibber!

    Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
    Garden Valley Loop
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    Hackberry Spring Explore
    I was looking to do a trail run close by, and have had my eye on exploring a bit of the Hackberry Spring area from the Horse Lot, so I hit two birds with one stone on this one.

    From the Horse lot, I followed a track from another HAZ member. I came to a fork about a mile in and initially headed right, but then saw that the track I was following went left. So I backtracked and took the left fork. It wound its way down to Hackberry Spring, but I wasn't too impressed with the route. It involved some minor bushwhacking here and there. Actually, that whole area by the spring itself is more of morass of off-chute trails that I wound in, around, and about, until a more established trail re-appeared on the northern end of the Spring area and began to wrap around to the east.

    I crossed through Garden Valley and then circled back to the First Water TH. On the way back to the Horse Lot, I took a detour over the hill on the old road to the abandoned ranch site and then up the narrow canyon back towards Hackberry Spring. Surprisingly, there were still several pools of water. Along the way, I saw a drainage off to the west and decided to head up that direction. Running through this drainage was great. The drainage was not chocked with vegetation and the footing was relatively good. Also, it was shaded and the cooler air collected there.

    To my surprise the drainage led back to the fork I had come to on the front end of the run, and ended up being the fork that I initially backtracked on. Next time, I would opt for this route from the Horse Lot on the way in.

    Only came across a few hikers on the trail this morning. Temps are finally starting to moderate in the mornings. :y:
    Garden Valley Loop
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    5:20am start from 1st Water TH. First rattlesnake about 20 minutes in. I caught sight of it coiled up beneath me as I stepped right over it. That will get your heart racing. My friend, Brian, opted to go around through some bushes. It never moved. I guess it wasn't ready to start its day yet. 75 degrees at the trail head, so maybe it prefers warmer temps. Saw the 2nd rattler (a much fatter one) as we got close to approaching the Hackberry Spring area. This one was awake, locked and loaded. When we came around the corner, it started rattling. I cut immediately to my right, away from the sound. Once I got my bearings of his position, I walked back to where Brian was standing. The snake was in its upright strike position. With the exception of its rattle and tongue, the snake was frozen in this position. We took heed to the warning and after admiring its stance for a few moments we moved on toward the Hackberry.

    No more snakes after that. We arrived back at the trail head with no extra holes in our skin.
    Garden Valley Loop
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    5:20am start at First Water TH for counter-clockwise loop. Arrived at junction of Second Water and Black Mesa to a horrible smell. A dead dog with a chain style collar was on the ground, just off the side of the trail. The dog was so bloated that it looked more like a large pig. We tried to imagine how someone's pet died out here. Did someone take it on a hike in extreme heat? Had the dog run loose, got lost and then the owners gave up? Why did the dog appear to be untouched by predators, vultures, etc? How long had it been here?

    We continued on through Garden Valley and finished our hike a few minutes past 6:30am.
    Garden Valley Loop
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    My wife wanted to go on a hike, so we decided on the Garden Valley/Hackberry Loop. We kept a pretty good pace which wore her out. By the time we reached the final climb up towards the road she was whipped. Still, I admire her positive attitude. She said, "Let's come back in two weeks and see if we can do it faster." Atta-girl!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To First Water Trailhead
    From Mesa follow Highway 60 East to Idaho Road. Turn North onto Idaho Road which is SR88 and follow North 2.2 miles. SR88 bends right just past Scenic St. and Idaho continues North. Be sure to go right and stay on SR88. Follow SR88 5.2 miles to the signed turnoff for First Water Trailhead, this is FR-78. Turn right on to FR-78 and follow 2.6 miles to the end.

    This trailhead feature restrooms without running water. The large parking area fills up in season. When full utilize the Horse Lot 0.5 miles back.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 43.1 mi - about 59 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 136 mi - about 2 hours 16 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 187 mi - about 3 hours 3 mins
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