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Geronimo Head, AZ

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Guide 42 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
4.2 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,760 feet
Elevation Gain 1,711 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,903 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 - 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.72
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2019-03-28
L Canyon
18  2019-02-23 wallyfrack
10  2019-02-23 Tortoise_Hiker
8  2019-02-20 wallyfrack
11  2019-02-06 Daytripper
11  2019-01-27 jamminaz
11  2019-01-07 DixieFlyer
5  2018-12-12 wallyfrack
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
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   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:29pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Next stop... MALAPAIS!
by joebartels

Access is now via the Tortilla Flat Trailhead constructed in early 2008. Directions have been updated the summary has not as it's still all off-trail. I do recommend looping a tad east to stay away from the town to be courteous.

Here is an out and back hike from Tortilla Flat to Geronimo Head, topo elevation mark 3479. This is a great hike. However, the rewards verse effort is something to think about. This is serious off trail hiking through rugged country. Boots and jeans are a must. First you'll want to grab a copy of the book "Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness" which I'll refer to as "The Guide". The map on page 204 is worth the price of the book alone. I've tried to find a better route and didn't come close in six attempts. With that in mind, stick to their route. Basically follow "Trip 37" in "The Guide" backwards for a little over two miles. Personally I prefer to park closer to Tortilla Flat. This is really more of a "you must figure it out" type of hike but I'll do my best...

In photo 115 you'll get a rough glimpse of the your first task. Most notably is the absence of any trail. With that in mind this hike starts anywhere from Tortilla Flat up to a half mile east. I prefer to start closer to Tortilla Flat, just after the first left curve. Tortilla Creek runs south of SR88. From your car head down into Tortilla Creek. Don't follow the creek, instead head straight up the south bank. Your first thoughts will be "that's way too steep!", but... just do it. Once over the initial lip you'll have a chimney rock formation in your view. You need to pick a path very wide to the east of the rock formation. You're shooting for a huge ravine to follow up the escarpment. Don't actually follow the bottom of the ravine. This would be extremely brushy and slow going.

Luckily the first destination is easy to spot. I call it "Fragile Arch Saddle". The arch isn't much but it's a good reference point. The hike from the ravine up to the saddle is steep but short lived. From here we play saddle hopscotch. The terrain is steep so be careful not to slide on down to Tortilla Flat! I've hiked this trip a few times now and it doesn't seem that steep anymore. Johnny Cash is usually echoing below from the tourist trap.

Click to Enlarge!My best advice going from saddle to saddle is to dip down a tad then come back up. It's much faster then trying to battle straight across. I feel obligated to mention... beware of the agaves, more so the possibility of sliding into one on a back step. I did this on a ruin search in Boynton Canyon many years ago. The blood shot out like a water sprinkler. Do your best to make out these "subtle" saddles on a topo map. Rock formations, shear walls and such typical of this area don't show up on map. Once again, "The Guide" shows the best route in these tricky areas.

The second saddle is nondescript and calling it a saddle is an overstatement. Just go with it! Okay... We'll refer to the third saddle as "Saddle 2750". This is your ticket to Geronimo Head, Malapais and whatever floats your boat. When you take your first peek over the other side you'll be saying NO WAY! This is the point where Geronimo's Ravine makes a nose-dive turn to the west. Trust me, this is the easy section. A use trail actually exist! First you'll pass some high dryfalls. The trail is overgrown but just be happy it's there period. You're only in the actually water-path of the ravine for a short time. During which you'll need to do a little hand-rock-contact and squeeze under a tree. The minute the terrain eases up the trail disappears. Soon after I passed a nice saguaro skeleton.

Get out of the ravine and follow just above to the east. Follow until a side ravine/canyon shoots in from the east (your left). Here we'll make a loop on this end to get in some better views. Geronimo Head sits at 3479, but the high point is NE at Peak 3509. So...take a left and follow this side ravine for a short while. Soon the terrain eases up. The going quickens as there isn't heavy brush. Your biggest concern in this region is dodging cactus. Peak 3509 is clearly the point you'll want to head for. Forge ahead and on up. It is kind of steep but you'll probably be so happy the pace has quickened you won't care much. You'll just be happy to finally be moving at normal speed again!

Once atop Peak 3509 the views are endless. If you bring some binoculars you might catch a glimpse of Saguaro Lake. To the east and a tad south is the heart of Peters Canyon. Squint really hard and you might even make out Castle Dome in the far distance. Swing to the west and a tad south with those binoculars and you'll see the top of Black Top Mesa. Palomino Mountain never looked so small!

Now follow the "S" shaped ridge down to Geronimo Head, Peak 3479. Along the way watch out for a century plant stump that's been sucking on miracle grow. Continue on down to Peak 3479.

On the south edge of Geronimo Head you will experience the shear drop off excitement looking down at La Barge Creek. Lower La Barge Box is down there if you know where to look. Far out to the SE is is Bluff Spring Mountain.

On the east edge of Geronimo Head is the spectacular finned ridge of Battleship Mountain. Including an obscured view of the summit. Far out to the SW you can even make out the Massacre Ramp! Far out the the east is Black Cross Butte snuggled tightly between Fish Creek Peak and Fish Creek Mountain. Directly SE, Malapais sits proud.

After you've absorbed enough of the countless views start heading back. Follow Geronimo's Ravine down to Saddle 2750. From here you know the saddle hopscotch route back home.

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.

2002-03-13 joebartels
    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 17 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Geronimo Head
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Geronimo Malapais
    Bam! What a day! :y:

    For some reason, I hadn't previously been up to Geronimo Head or Malapais, and today was outstanding. The temperature was perfect for this kind of hike today and the air quality provided distant views in all directions.

    BobP took the reins of leading us up the mountain absolutely nowhere near a route, but we managed to overcome and eventually reached the route we wanted to be following. On the return trip we skipped the adventure and stuck with the route on the lower part. Somebody has built a trail here, which I'm not thrilled with. Trimmed trees, rocks moved, etc. Pretty sure it's not FS approved. Can't we just keep some things "off-trail"? ](*,)

    Views from Geronimo Head and Malapais were great. This is a big day and a solid workout. Definitely a good adventure!
    Geronimo Head
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This is my first trip log. I've used this site many times and decided it time to join and contribute.

    Saturday morning I woke up around 6am and headed east to the Superstition Wilderness. The last time I visited I summited Battleship. While kickin back at the top I heard some ruckus. Some serious squinting later I noticed a group of big horns on face of Geronimo Head. I decided then I would try to summit that next.

    That was about a year and half ago. I had forgotten how much of a beast Geronimo Head is. My first glimpse of it drivin down 88 made my stomach drop. That mixed with the curry from the night before meant an immediate squat at the trailhead.

    I parked in the Tortilla Flat overflow. The very end space. I set out down the little backroad which ends quick and then found a little ravine to trek in. Immediately I noticed the monolithic formation they call chimney rock. Take a wide route east around this, okay. Definitely bushwackin. The amount of growth is insane. Best spring I can remember since el nino 99 I think. Thick brush and cactus coupled with steep loose rock, I can see why this route has claimed an ankle and some flesh wounds.

    Getting close to the fragile arch I was starting to doubt if I would actually make it to the top. I've had some time off from trail running and hiking and I was feelin it. I also wasn't sure on the exact route to take around the saddle. Deliberating for a moment I noticed cairns. A welcomed site. I followed them up around the saddle to what I called a valley. A nice resting spot between two massive rock formations. Great views and shade called for some relaxation and food. I could have gone back down and been content. Of course, I couldn't stop there though.

    Like this description says, the next saddle looks gnarly. And it probably would be if it weren't for the cairns/sparse trail to lead through. It really wasn't bad. Over the saddle and into the ravine, now you can see the high point of the head. Unfortunately, I was on a schedule so looping around was out of the question. I had to reach the high point though.

    The description made it seem like a pretty easy climb. I didn't find it to be that exactly. Maybe I cut up to quick, but it was super steep, heavily populated with cactus and just about every other plant in the region. As beautiful as it was tough which makes it enjoyable. Close to the top I was scrambling up some big rocks and noticed some hind legs and a fat lil tail occupying a crevice. Chuckwalla. First time seeing a chuck out here.

    Finally, at 3509. Epic views in all directions. Not much cloud cover and high 80s but a nice wind provided relief. Ate my dark chocolate and oranges, chugged some water, took a few photos, studied my topo map a bit, stacked a couple rocks and it was time to head back. I seriously considered looping so I could get the view from the west face and see ol Battleship. It's always good to leave a little shortchanged. Keeps ya comin back for more. Next time.

    Like I said I was pressed for time, but this isn't something you want to rush down. I had to constantly remind myself slow and steady keeps their ankle attached and blood in their veins. Slid more than a couple times. Once into a prickly pear which stabbed my pants right wear my wallet rested. Dumb luck that. Pulled out the spines, left the glochids and kept movin. Found a couple bones of what I assume to be big horn but not positive. Was really hoping to see some roamin the rocks but none to be seen.

    Coming back around the monolith (chimney rock) I tried to keep with the cairns but they eluded me. They seemed to head more east of tortilla flat toward the tent site which was not my parking spot anyway. I bushwacked it til I hit the little ravine that lead back to overflow parking lot. I was the only car there when I left. Now about 1230pm cars, trucks motorcycles, van, busses, wagons, (maybe not wagons) dotted the lot. Some intense leg stretches and funny looks from arriving tourists and I was homeward bound.

    Now I can't stop wondering about the view from the west side. And of course theres the Malapais to think about.
    Geronimo Head
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This was a trip to check out some shadows I saw in a few photos. It looked like a cave even on a cloudy day but just some bushes up against a cliff. The good news is Denny got to hit the three other peaks on Geronimo Head that he had not been on and the clear air made for some great views.
    Geronimo Head
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    With almost constant pain from the left hip down to the knee from my mishap back in June I decided to take it easy for a few weeks and give it a chance to heal. It didn't take long to get a bit of cabin-fever so we did an easy flat hike on Saturday. I felt great and had no lingering pain so I thought I'd ease back into my more normal mode.

    I didn't want to drive far and I wanted to avoid the heat of the day, so I wanted something short. Scanning my to-do list of peaks to fit the bill I decided on Geronimo Head. With so many different GPS routes to select from I decided to keep it simple and follow one that was already on the Arizona Topo map on my GPS.

    Although up early enough to have been hiking by 6 am, I didn't care for the high humidity and took my time getting out of the house and took a leisurely drive up Apache Trail to Tortilla Flat.

    When I hit the trail at 7:45 am it was still quite humid so not wanting to be soaked from head to foot right away, I moved the slowest I have in a LONG time. (I had to check... The only hike I've averaged slower in the last ten years was climbing Battle Axe back in December '12)

    But moving slow didn't make any difference, within 30 minutes I was completely drenched in sweat. Wet pant-legs sticking to my knees every time I bent them made for some tough climbing. Between that and the loose, rocky terrain, sometimes taking 3 steps up just to gain a foot in elevation I was getting more of a workout than I bargained for.

    The closer I got to the ridge, the more thick sections of brush I encountered and a few times I to get out my hand clipper to make a way through. In the worst cat-claw thicket I spent over 5 minutes cutting my way through.

    By this time I was getting very close to a go/no-go situation... I had burned so much energy that I knew I'm have a tough time descending if I continued all the way. But being within 75' in elevation and about 100 yards horizontally to the ridge-top waypoint, I was so close I just HAD to continue.

    Well no, I didn't HAVE to continue... about 20' ahead of me in the only slot I could climb through I see what looked like hundreds of bees flying around. Having been attacked by bees twice in the last 4 months (injuring my knee trying to get away the second time) along with being stung twice by a wasp, all it took was a few bees meandering in my direction and I decided to chalk this up to a recon hike and skedaddle.

    Only it wasn't quite that simple... between running low on energy and still wanting to be extra careful to prevent re-injuring my knee, the descent was more time-consuming than the ascent, with the exception of the areas where took advantage of the generous trimming I had done.

    Once I got through the steepest terrain I did my usual thing of returning by a different route, which actually turned out to be better than the one I had taken on the climb.

    As soaking wet as I was, it was a good thing I brought a change of clothes. But even better, I had the foresight to include a thoroughly-wet towel in the cooler. Now THAT felt good!

    Good thing I didn't care how long it took to get home, because again I was behind someone driving 25 mph AT THE MOST, more often 10-15 mph all the way to Needle Vista where I could finally pass him... still barely at 30 mph in the 40 mph zone. I guess nobody ever thinks they should stop a moment at a pullout to let other folks by. Oh well, I wasn't in a hurry, but still...

    I probably shot an hour of video with my GoPro (on my chest) during the toughest part of the climb but I haven't had a chance to check it out. If I didn't have it aimed way off, I'll probably edit a video and post it. If not, I guess I won't.
    Geronimo Head
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Well Fan and I made it to the top and there were some great views of the area. The weather was perfect and Fan was great to hike with.
    But on the way down things did change for Fan and I. I slip on my right foot and tried to catch myself with my left. It did not work as my left foot got stuck between to rocks and my body did a 360 and I heard it snap and Fan watched in total shock. Fan stayed with me until a the helicopter could pick me up.
    Everyone did a great job and I want to say thanks to everyone involved in getting me down.
    So this will be my last triplog for a while. I am hearing 3 months or more. Just in time for some serious summer hiking.
    Thanks everybody.
    Geronimo Head
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Geronimo - Malapais - Peters Canyon Loop
    Bubby took me up to Geronimo Head my first time three years ago and the views were incredible through one eye.

    Joe and I had more than just Geronimo Head planned for the day. The climb to Geronimo Head was just as thick and steep as I remembered. 1.8 miles in (2 hours+ later) we made it to the top and worked our way south. 2.5 miles in and we're past 3363 and out on the sweet spine on the SW end of Geronimo Head. In my mind, this spot gives you the best perspective of the Battleship in all of the Superstitions!

    Up to Geronimo Head :next:

    Off to make our way to Malapais. We hit 3509 on the way, passed by a campsite in the open, complete with a recent sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and 10 or so 12oz bottles of water. Looking at Malipais from this point it was pretty obvious the area we were going to climb through.

    Once again, a thick and steep climb to the top. Joe made a good call to change the route from what we had planned. It cut off some mileage and time that we'd need later. Instead of going up the North side of the Draw and then swinging to the South, we climbed up the South side of the Draw and hit a hard South to gain 4159. At this point we were looking for some shade to take some lunch. There is little to no shade available up there. We continued to the high point of 4229, 3.7 miles from Geronimo Head and then started down to the East looking for shade.

    At this point we were both tired of the bushwhacking and boulder hopping. We were looking forward to the straight forward Peter's Canyon Creek bed hike back to the truck
    But to get to Peter's Canyon to the East was another steep, loose bushwhack, only about 1.2 miles and all downhill, but it still took us almost 2 hours to cover the distance.

    Finally the creek bed... then the realization that we had more than 4.5 miles in the creek bed and what looks like a smooth super highway from 1600' above, is basically just another form of boulder hopping. We're also realizing that we'd be finishing in the dark... 2 miles plus in the dark. From what I saw before it got dark, Peter's Canyon was a pretty and special place. But I just wanted out.

    The Sign at Tortilla Flats where we parked said no overnight parking and hours in the lot were something like 6am to 7pm.... bla, bla, bla.... towed ... I was glad my vehicle was still there.

    This had to be my slowest going hike of all time.

    On a Side Note:
    I'm happy to note the the Suburu was fine, the Garmin 62 worked flawlessly and the Panasonic took some pretty good shots.
    Geronimo Head
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Malapais Peter's Canyon Loop
    I have water but I don't want it.

    Fond memories of this area seemed off key. Malapais is #17 on my favorites list after 17 years of hiking.

    Heading up Geronimo
    as rough as I remember ( shouldn't it be easier )

    Approaching Malapais
    this is taking forever, two-thirds to go :scared:

    Whose friggen route did I download. This isn't how "I" do it. ( under my breath ) this is a horrible idea, we'll never make it. ( out loud ) looks good, this is it, let's go.

    1 Hour - 25 minutes
    Our lunch spot was on the east side of Malapais, 200 ft from the top. We found shade on the east side of a rock outcrop. No more ascending. Ridge shade advantage queued the orchestra. Refreshed we descended to Peter's Canyon. Nearly an hour and a half later... please, shoot me

    Peter's Canyon
    YES! I can fly. Smooth boulders. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

    Tenth of a Mile Later
    How many miles in this canyon?
    the number four sounded like butter hitting a hot skillet sliding away to infinity

    Bruce didn't get to see the Peralta Headquarters, the face or the grinding holes. Near the end he mentioned... "one thing I know about Peter's Canyon, I'm NEVER coming back". It was sad and funny all wrapped in one.

    Took 3 quarts agua, half frozen. Never ran out ( last sip at the car ) but wish I froze that bad boy solid. Mid 80's in February is not typical. This loop mid 80's in the summer would be a steal. Acclimated to winter it was tough. Random puffy clouds would have made a world of difference. 5-6 hours of sleep before a hike is good, net total between two hikers blows.
    Geronimo Head
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This was the direct route to Gernimo Head. I had not been on the true summit before so this was on the short list. There are great views all around and the breeze made for a cool morning. Liz kept a steady pace going up so I thought we made good time. We stopped a few times to rest and take in the views. Of course I got new ideas for future exploration and could see that one route I was already planning can be done without issue. Thanks for driving Mike.
    Geronimo Head
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I've been wanting to do these two summits for a long time and was fortunately offered the chance by Devils Mountain-- a true off-trail professional.

    We too Tortilla Creek to Peters Canyon and eventually started ascending out of there. We planned taking Devils normal route up to the top of Malapais but decided at the last minute to try a different ascent. It was a bit rough at times but fun. We made it up Malapais and hung out with some amazing views.

    It was now time to go bag Geronimo Head so we headed back down the route of the original plan which was much easier. Then we headed up towards Geronimo Head. By this time, most of our ascent was done but this is a heck of a long day. We made it up to the summit and found more great views.

    We headed back down which is mostly easy going. I ran of water a half mile from the car but that wasn't really an issue. This is a solid hike for sure-- definitely one of the hardest 10 miles I've done. Big thanks to Devils Mountain for leading me up there! :)
    Geronimo Head
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Well I made it! First time hiking with Mike on an off-trail excursion while he tried to finish establishing his new route up Geronimo Head. He promised nothing crazy but never said it would be easy. He delivered!

    I realized early on the just keeping up with him was going to be tough! The climb out of Peter's Canyon was straight-up a ridge requiring bouldering the last few hundred feet up. It was fun but I bailed off to the side near the top but it would have been faster just to stay up on the rocks.

    Up on top we made are our way to the 3479 area overlooking LaBarge Canyon and Battleship. From there we headed west towards 3383 and then north until we dropped down into the drainage to start heading back.

    A fun, interesting day visting a spot I never really thought I'd get to! Thanks again Mike! Hope I didn't slow you down too much!! :D

    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
    128 GB Flash Drive... $14
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