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Battleship Mountain - Superstitions, AZ

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Guide 274 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
4.7 of 5 by 79
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 11.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,258 feet
Elevation Gain 443 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,100 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 22.3
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack No
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7  2019-09-12 LJW
2  2019-03-16 lwbenso
11  2019-02-16 RedwallNHops
14  2019-01-31 mike_berg
13  2019-01-26 DixieFlyer
10  2019-01-21 KBKB
5  2018-12-06 JuanJaimeiii
5  2018-11-24 DixieFlyer
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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 → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
Official Route
12 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
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Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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The Devil's Playground
by Fritzski

This hike starts from First Water trailhead by taking the Second Water trail east to the Boulder Canyon trail where you then proceed south to a point abeam the southern tip of Battleship Mountain. Here you depart the trail and climb the mountain from the southern tip to the peak at the northern end. Reverse the route for your return.

This has undoubtedly been my most "epic" hike so far this season. From the moment you mount the southern tip of this massive formation, you can't believe what you're seeing. It is a veritable lunar landscape surrounded by breathtaking sheer drops in all directions. Make sure to pause here and take in the mind blowing 360-degree panorama, because the unreal ridge stretching out before you to the north beckons like a powerful magnet.

A WORD OF FAIR WARNING: This should be considered a difficult hike for advanced hikers only. Scrambling and bouldering skills are a must (1). To the individual not comfortable with heights, this hike has the potential to be a real life nightmare. That being said, there is no technical climbing involved, and at no time did I feel like I was at any real risk of falling. "Exposure" is a term used by climbers to describe the degree of vulnerability in the event of a fall. Although there is some very real exposure to be encountered on this hike, the risk of falling itself is extremely minimal. Therefore, as is mostly the case, dealing with the element of exposure is more of a psychological battle than a physical one.

DIRECTIONS: Depart First Water trailhead on Second Water trail heading east through Garden Valley. Just as you begin your descent into Boulder Canyon, you will get your first real glimpse of the Battleship Mountain monolith looming ahead. This fortress-like rock formation, being very long and narrow, is very appropriately named and since the only sensible way aboard is over the stern, we must continue ahead to the Boulder Canyon trail intersection and proceed south till you are abeam the southern tip. We chose a spot where the slope visibly mellows, but not all the way to the saddle directly south of the tip.

The climb to the base of the cliff is very typical of most rock formations in the Superstitions. It involves making your way up a 45-degree slope of loose rock that has fallen away over the centuries and although short, it is easily the least pleasant part of the hike. Once at the base of the low cliff, you will encounter a nice alcove that provides a shady spot for a quick "powerbar" break prior to ascending the cliff.

From facing the cave, head up to your right, then back left over the top of the cave, then pretty much scramble straight up to the top. As you emerge on top it will pretty much take your breath away. You are greeted by a very flat alien landscape with sheer drops on either side. The views down in to the Lower LaBarge Box are incredible. The massive, snaking ridge stretches out before you to the north and looks quite daunting indeed. This area presents some of the neatest camping sites I've seen anywhere and the hike to this point is only moderate in difficulty. Since this southernmost "mesa" is awesome in and of itself, this is a great termination point for those less adventurous types.

From the northern tip of the south mesa you must negotiate a narrow connection that involves steep drops on either side. As you press on, you are continually presented with seemingly insurmountable obstacles only to find at least one way to "solve the puzzle". At the base of the north peak you are finally confronted with an insurmountable obstacle in the form of a vertical ridge of crumbling rock. Not to despair, however, the solution lies in descending down to your left, proceeding along the affectionately named "Ball bearing Slope", then recommencing you're your climb to the true peak from a northwesterly direction. False summits are a fact of life all along this hike and the nasty phenomenon tends to rear its ugly head right to the end. But, finally after as much scrambling as hiking you reach the top and the aching gluteals and tender palms are well worth it.

The top resembles the Flatiron in many ways including the fact that the peak itself stands over a flat protrusion forming the true prominence, which juts out boldly to the north in this case. The vertical drops approach as much as 500 feet in this area. The surprisingly large plateau is strikingly beautiful with eerie rock formations and bold colors. It begs to be thoroughly explored, so take plenty of time. There were absolutely no signs of any previous visitors anywhere on the mountain and the large cairn at the edge of the north precipice was our own testimonial "monument" (2).

To return, merely reverse your route, but as a word of caution from experience, this is often easier said than done. Things look completely different in the opposite direction, so take careful note of any landmarks along the way as you go to help preclude the old "now, which way did we come up?" syndrome.

(1) By scramble, I basically mean you must use your hands to climb or descend. I would consider bouldering to be slightly more difficult involving a very short, but steeper incline, but not requiring technical equipment due to a low degree of exposure.

(2) I am in no way claiming any kind of first ascent. Indeed, I have made an acquaintance with an individual claiming to have previously climbed it. I do however consider this very rarely trodden territory.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2002-03-06 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 61 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    With the Superstitions opened back up, I wanted to get back on Battleship Mountain and decided to make it a longer loop. From First Water I went clockwise to Battleship and then to Black Top Mesa with a stop at the LaBarge Box, before taking Dutchman back to the trailhead.

    Started at 5:20am and was the second car in the lot. Used a headlamp for a mile or two. Was in the dark or shade until I climbed up onto Battleship's back end. Saw a small tarantula on the connector trail between Boulder and LaBarge Canyons. The giant cairns that used to mark where that trail leaves Boulder Canyon are gone.

    Only person I saw all day was on the summit. Climbed down and stopped at the LaBarge Box before heading back to Boulder and up to Dutchman. Lots of frogs and soon-to-be frogs in the first few pools in the box.

    Took Dutchman to Bull Pass and climbed up to the trail for Black Top Mesa. The spur to the top was in as good condition as any on the day. Summit was breezy, which was a blessing with temperatures rising to around body temperature.

    Had to take care to apportion my water on Dutchman. Just about ran out and felt pretty dehydrated. Temps approached 100, but there was a solid breeze the whole trip down Dutchman. Saw a diamondback about two miles from the trailhead that charged at me while I tried to take pictures.

    No water in any of the creeks except in Second Water Canyon and the LaBarge Box. Not sure any of it'd be good to drink when filtered.
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Headed up from Phoenix in my Prius at around 8:30a, road was bumpy going in - SUV would've been nice. Stepping out of the car, clear day 64 degrees; definitely happy we brought big hats though because we were completely exposed the whole day. Anyways, this was my first time out with my new Garmin 64s GPS and it proved to be invaluable! Starting out the trail was easy to follow but once we reached the creak things started to get confusing. There was a group of college kids in front of us who led us the wrong way, but checking my GPS got us back on track. The river was flowing pretty good so we made a note that we could filter water from there on the way back (note: definitely bring a filter!). Around this point and up to the top you have a great view of Weaver's Needle. Ascending Battleship Mountain there were a lot of very helpful cairns, just be prepared for a scramble most of the way. We got to the summit around 1:30pm and ate lunch. The hike down was uneventful except for rolling my ankle pretty bad 1/3 of the way back. Beautiful sites all around, definitely recommend!
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Great weather for my second trek up the Battleship. Unlike my first trip I managed to find the route in fairly easily which made for an efficient approach. Just like my first trip - on the way out - I managed to walk in increasingly frustrated circles for a while before finding the way down. My meandering descent seemed to work out for the best though: had I not gotten temporarily "lost" I likely would have had to contend with more traffic on the way back to central Phoenix. Traffic on the trail was minimal. I passed by a handful of groups on the way in on the Second Water trail, but didn't see anyone else. When I returned to the parking lot my car was quite lonely.
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Battle Barge
    It was so hot in the western supes this weekend. 82 in February, all day in direct sunlight, makes me never want to hike here again. The only redeeming aspects of this hike, in my opinion, were the actual climb of the battleship ridge and checking out La Barge Box. If I had to come back to this area, I would avoid second water trail all together and maybe head up the Boulder Canyon trail from Canyon Lake. Also, if I had planned ahead, I realize I could have looped back to the second water/boulder canyon junction by heading north from La Barge Box instead of backtracking to the saddle.

    TL;DR: TOO hot for "winter"
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    It's nice to get out with a group once in a while. You talk about past adventures and hike with new people at the same time. With this crowd the banter was continuous so no need to be serious. I somehow missed the dead foxes but did see a live one hiding in the bushes as I hiked down off of Battleship. That fox seemed healthy and was acting normal so some may survive. It was good to run into Mitch again as it's been years since the last hike. My batteries were getting low hiking up the last hill so Kelly dropped her power bank in the trail. I didn't have a cord so I had to give it back. The after hike food at Carolina's was delicious. Great to see everyone and Happy New Year.
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    rarely take a day off work to hike
    an invite from denny and bruce to hit battleship for their year end hike seemed like a good reason :)
    first time meeting and hiking with bruce and his son ben
    i've met wally but had not hiked with him before
    dave caught us a mile or two into the hike; been awhile since i've hiked with him
    always enjoy hiking with denny, jj, joe and ray
    started from canyon lake, which is my favorite for the views
    got going around 0700 in chilly temps, especially in boulder canyon
    once we got in the sun and started up to the stern, layers came off
    almost five years since i've done this
    the use trail seemed more defined, or maybe this was the first time i've actually gone up it correctly
    most of the route finding, tricky spots and scrambles were familiar
    lost two of our party along the way, but the rest of us made it up just fine to stellar views
    took some pics and had some snacks
    i had never gone out on the north part of the summit, so tagged along with bruce and ben
    nice views and a good dropoff from that point
    headed down into labarge box
    less water than i've seen before
    still a beautiful spot
    stayed dry this time, too
    boulder hopped down labarge canyon, stopping at aylor's camp
    never knew it was there, but wally did
    saw two dead foxes - more rabies?
    good climb up from boulder canyon, providing more great scenery along the way, then an easy cruise back down
    thanks for inviting me!
    had a great time on a superstitions classic with some pretty good guys

    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I had the great fortune of being invited to Denny's and Bruce's annual New Year's hike. Battleship Mountain from Canyon Lake with a trip down La Barge Canyon on the way back. Perfect. Then I heard JJ say he thought we could do this in under 4 hours :o . Uuuh, maybe I'll wait here.

    And perhaps I should have. I ended up with a torn bicep trying to help a couple of gals get over an obstacle, losing out on the last half mile to Battleship and missing the photo op with the 2018 glasses. Doh!

    Still, all in all, a great day. I got to hike with a great group of folks (half the hike anyway) on another gorgeous day in the Supes. La Barge Canyon was a treat on the way back. A little bit of water in the creek and some gold leaves on the cottonwoods. Beautiful. Stopped at Chuck Aylor's La Barge camp on the way back.

    Most of us hooked up at Carolina's in Mesa afterwards for a post hike meal and gab session. Good times.

    Happy New Year all!
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    HMS Turkey Leg
    I had contemplated a sunrise hike today, but realized I don't have nearly enough gray hair for that one (maybe by 2029!?) :sweat:

    So instead, I enlisted the captain for a voyage to the bridge of the HMS Turkey Leg.

    Some call it the battleship, but as the single other soul we saw today asked "why do they call this the battleship?" clearly it's open to interpretation. For me, if you see it from the side, it's quite obviously a turkey leg.

    We pre-burned our dinner calories and made nice time, though the oven had obviously already been turned on for preheating. Glad to be done around noon or this one could have been deep-fried.
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We got an early start and bagged this pretty quick. I had some cooking to do this afternoon before Turkey Day stuff so we didn't waste too much time. It got a little warm on the way out but nothing too unpleasant. This was my first Battleship summit in a few years but my 15th total! It was nice to be back on that mountain. Its cairned pretty heavily now so unfortunately most of the route finding fun is gone. Happy Thanksgiving!
    Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Just another story of Life and Death in the Superstitions.. This one has been on my list for a long time. Was a little apprehensive to go alone first time, so I got my buddy Corey to go with me. What an excellent hike! I loved everything about it and will definitely be coming back to this reasonably easy climb. First Water at 6:45 and at the turn off in Boulder Creek at 8. It's getting warmer out there and most of the water is all gone, though Boulder was flowing decent still. Ran into a group of about 7 or 8 headed up for their first time up the ship, also. We passed them relatively quickly as they opted to take a more direct, bushwhacking route. We found a well established path that kind of wrapped around to the east and then up, with cairns all the way to the climbing section. Here is where the real fun started. It was a climbing up and over here, around there, boulder hopping good time. All with 100+ foot drop offs on both sides. While taking a short break, we were passed by a solo hiker. He said he had been up there a few times and seemed to know the route pretty well, so we kind of followed his path down and up through a tricky area. Made it to the top and it felt great! The views were amazing though partially obscured by Geronimo Head. That mountain seemed like it was challenging me for the next adventure out here. Signed the book and read some of the funny notes in there. Some of you guys are real crack ups! Started making our way down and that's when things took a turn. For some reason my friend thinks its macho or something to hike and not drink any water. Now I was carrying plenty for the both of us including treatment options, but he declined to drink any at all the whole way up. As we were coming down his energy level started to fade fast. Luckily there were some real nice pools along Boulder Creek that were great to take a quick swim in and cool off a bit.
    As we were coming out of Boulder and heading back up Second Water, we ran into a group of 3 that just started a 4 day backpacking trip. They kept talking about how they saw several big rattlers on the way down there. We wished them well and then headed back up. Weirdest part of the hike right here.. We had our eyes and ears open for snakes and came across a terrible scene instead. We found a young 3 ft rattler with it's head and tail cut off laying right in the middle of the trail. It had a pretty obvious stab wound through it, also. Now I don't know the story of what happened but it was pretty disheartening seeing that. Those guys we saw down at the creek talked about all the snakes they saw but didn't mention anything about this incident and they had just came from Second Water so there is no way they didn't see it, it was right in the middle of the trail. It's crazy to think of who you are actually hiking around out there.
    As we made our way back through Garden Valley, we ran into a couple who were clearly lost with very little water left, with hopes of looping around Canyon Lake as a day hike. I highly recommended that they were crazy and that they turn around and go back or go to Hackberry for some more water, which they did the latter.
    On the way out, we got passed again by the guy we saw on Battleship and then Corey asks him for some water. Idk how stubborn you have to be not to drink water while hiking in the desert but its safe to say he learned his lesson the very hard way. I had one of the greatest hikes I have ever been on in the Supes and he's over here puking from exhaustion and dehydration.

    "Stop all this weeping and swallow your pride (or water). You will not die, it's not poison"

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Apache Junction follow SR88 northeast out of town. Just past milepost 201 (which is just after the Lost Dutchman State Park) turn right onto FS78. This is a dirt road but easily doable by car. Follow 2.6 miles to the end which is the First Water Trailhead
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