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Massacre Falls Loop - First Water TH, AZ

no permit
260 12 2
Guide 12 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
2.6 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 6.85 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,290 feet
Elevation Gain 1,007 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,375 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.73
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Perennial Waterfall
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
35  2019-02-04 Mr_Squishy
29  2017-04-16 KBKB
89  2017-03-25
Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
9  2017-03-25
Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
30  2015-12-20
Reverse Flatiron
17  2013-11-30 AZLumberjack
20  2013-02-02 Kel1969
5  2012-01-07 mazatzal82
Page 1,  2
Author azhunt2012
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 12
Photos 281
Trips 45 map ( 372 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Chandler, Az
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Amazing views & Waterfalls
by azhunt2012

Overview: An excellent mini adventure to Massacre Falls through a hidden tributary of First Water Creek. Then looping a return past the old Massacre Trailhead. A GPS unit loaded with the Default Route will be very helpful in getting you to Massacre Falls.

Hike: From the First Water Trailhead follow the Dutchman Trail #104 for 1.3 miles to the first major crossing. Here you turn right off trail and follow the creek. This tributary flows almost as hardy as First Water itself.

You have to do a little bushwhacking as you follow First Water Creek for about 0.2 mile until you turn southwest up the draw. Caution should be used during stormy conditions. You need to watch for flash flooding. After the turn, follow the draw up through a small streambed that is overgrown with catclaw, Teddybear Cholla, and other nasty things that tend to stick you. This continues for about 0.7 miles to the first saddle. From this point you can see Massacre Falls, a dark vertical stripe that is 1.2 miles to the west. Continue down the draw and back up through the saddle across some easy rock face terrain. Proceed down one last time to the bottom of Massacre Grounds before you start the climb to the falls.

Next comes the ascent to the falls. When the creek is running you can hear the falls in the distance. Finding the falls is nothing difficult, however it can be a route-finding challenge. Generally, the most traveled route gets you to the falls. It would be advisable to study the map to understand the route. Two or three cairned routes get you to the falls and one takes you far away to West Boulder Canyon.

At this point you can see pleasant views of rolling hills, unique rock formations, and the rugged beauty of Superstition Mountain. Upon reaching the falls, intermittent cascades tumble over a wide cliff face after heavy rains.

After an enjoyable break at the base of the falls, follow the Massacre Trail back to the old Massacre Trailhead (it's the fence line) that is now closed. When in season, wildflowers dominate the foothills at the trail's end. There is an old road along the fence line to your right that will return to FR-78 after some traversing across easy lower desert terrain. You can see the overflow parking lot for First Water TH in the distance (about3/4 mile). There is a restroom with no water. From there you can pick up the Dutchman's Trail# 104 on the north side of the road and follow it to the First Water Trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2010-02-07 azhunt2012
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Massacre Falls Loop - First Water TH
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Nick, Bob, and I hiked the Massacre Falls Loop on Easter Sunday.

    With help of the official GPS track for this loop, route finding was straightforward. Without it, I think it would have been pretty hard. Even with the GPS, I didn't always pay as close attention as I ought to have, overshooting several turns.

    Cat claw and other pokey brush turned out to be less of a problem than I expected. I had dressed for it though, wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt. My choice of footwear was less than ideal for the grass as I spent a few hours picking grass seeds out of my socks and shoes when I returned.

    The area around the fall was damp, but the waterfall wasn't flowing.

    We still saw a lot of wildflowers and an awful lot of dried grass which could soon be a fire hazard if it isn't already.

    Nick pronounced this hike a "Curate's Egg", by which he means, "Good, in parts." With that I agree.
    Massacre Falls Loop - First Water TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Time to get this off our Bucket List. Thanks to Vincent and gmaclachian's routes we had a big idea where we went wrong in the past attempts. Thought we were all set, but then decided we wanted a few more miles and do an off route extension after we topped out behind the Hoodoos, hooking up with the ridgeline trail via a small saddle we had spotted previously. Parked at the second parking spot off 1st water and up we went. All went well, 3/4th of the way up we startled a couple of : rein : but to quick for a pic. Got up and over the Hoodoos East of 5024 and spotted the saddle we wanted to go down and connect with the ridgeline trail back to Flatiron. This is such a beautiful hike and especially up on top past the 1st set of Hoodoos my camera wouldn't stop clicking :M2C: :D . Started down and ran in to a wall of trees and bushes, couldn't go thru or under as they were really thick. ](*,) Backed out and worked our way up and around the North side of the Thicket. Hooked up with the ridgeline and up and over connecting with the Reverse Flatiron Route. Decided not to head over to Flatiron due to setting sun. Headed down Siphon Draw to Jacob's Crosscut and headed North to parking lot. Got dark on us and missed a sign , we ended up over at the Cholla Campground area, all in all was a great hike, but happy I was able to cross it off my Bucket List....
    Massacre Falls Loop - First Water TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Just another potential Massacre Grounds Loop.. While working the First Water TH as a Forest Service Volunteer, I'm often asked about the Massacre Grounds Trailhead, which is now non-existent. I tell them that they can drive back to the Crosscut TH and begin their hike on the new trail that connects with the old one at the original TH adding about two miles to the trek.

    "Can we do it from here?" Well, yes, but it's not a very friendly trail with lots of brush and few trails to follow. So I decided to check out the possibilities. I have looked at the route many times on the TOPO maps so it shouldn't be all that bad :D

    My route took me down the Dutchman Trail to the first unnamed creek crossing. This flowage is actually from Massacre Falls and other drainages around the Massacre Grounds. The creek was still flowing intermittently thanks to the rains of last weekend but was easy to get around the wet spots.

    The canyon itself is narrow and the sides steep enough that trails don't exist and you must follow the creek bed, rock hopping as you go but after a while it gets pretty old stumbling from rock to rock. Finally the canyon opens up and you are presented with a view of the "Wall" alongside the Massacre Grounds ahead and behind is a great view of Four Peaks.

    The Catsclaw was everywhere and I paid my dues in fresh blood to be able to continue on. Before long I was able to get out of the wash and leave the thick brush behind and I challenged a large rock outcropping to gain elevation and see what was around. Cool views from my high perch and I saw a cliff face to the East of the Massacre "Wall". The cliff was at the head of a deep draninage and below the steep approach to the mountain and there was a strip of green brush along a "shelf" mid-cliff.

    As I approached the cliff looking for a way to get to the shelf, I could barely make out an alcove at the far end of the shelf. I couldn't tell if it was natural or part of an old ruin but it looked worth a closer look-see :? Couldn't find any trails leading up, so it was just me and the scree :scared: The recent rains made every step a treacherous slipping experience so it was climb-slip-grab for something to keep from going back down.

    I made it to the base of the cliff where the brush was growing and was able to squeeze through until I reached the end of the trail. "Cliff-Out" but I could see the alcove now and tell that it didn't amount to much, surely not a habitable cave and what had looked like a stone wall was just a natural part of the cliff :(

    Got some photos from the shelf then came the getting back down part of the exploration. Not a pretty sight but I made it back to some solid hiking ground and headed back down towards the Massacre flowage. I had my fill of Catsclaw so I opted for a route that would (should) take me back to the upper First Water Creek. I headed uphill for a saddle not too far away and as I broke over the top, I could see that I was in the drainage for First Water Creek.

    The storm from this past September has taken out a lot of the trails so it was back to the rock hopping until I finally reached the Dutchmans Trail once again. A quick hike back to the TH and get rid of the pack and gear then the usual cool one with peanuts as I stowed everything in the truck.

    There could be possibilities for this loop, but there's a lot of brush to contend with and the stream bed don't make for a good trail.

    Found some trees in color.
    Massacre Falls Loop - First Water TH
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Okay so the original plan was to go to Massacre Grounds. The map that I had showed a "target shooting sign" side road of the main First Water trailhead. I drove this road up and down several times and never found a driveable off road... so what did we do... we hiked from Jacob's Crosscut out into the middle of nowhere... that's what. After pulling the prickly cactus from our kneecaps... we decided to take a leisurely stroll up First Water. We made it halfway and turned around. One day we will complete the actual Massacre Falls loop.
    Massacre Falls Loop - First Water TH
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    NASTY is the one word that describes the central portion of this hike!

    Other than a little bit muddy the Massacre Falls trail was great. The falls was flowing fairly well seeing as it was about 24 hours after the rain stopped. This was the first visit for me to the falls. Any waterfall in the western supes is a treat. Then I decided to return using the loop back to the First Water TH.

    Once I got to the dutchman trail, again other than being a bit muddy it was fine. All the streams were flowing. The walk back to the crosscut parking lot from the first water lot was fine, not much traffic.

    But the area between these two sections is hard to describe in a language acceptable for the whole family. Just nasty is as close as I can come. The entire length was cholla (teddybear, staghorn and other types), prickly pear, catclaw etc. There was always something grabbing, tearing or poking at me. I don't think I ever did more than 3 steps in a straight line. Just about every step was a different elevation in an attempt to get around all the nasty pokey things.

    I'd rate the Massacre Falls trail as a 4, really beautiful scenery, the sun was just coming up as I was getting some elevation. Along with a pretty good trail, what more could you want. But the portion of the loop over to the dutchman would have to be a zero or maybe a negative 4. I won't attach my GPS file on this one as I wouldn't want anyone to follow my path.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    page created by azhunt2012 on Feb 06 2010 6:10 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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