by Greg Jackson
Hackberry Springs Loop is just an extension of the Garden Valley Loop. The trailhead starts at the First Water Trailhead just past Lost Dutchman State Park on SR88.
From the trailhead follow First Water Trail to the first intersection then head north on Second Water (also called Garden Valley) for around a mile. When you get to the signpost for the Black Mesa Trail you will notice a pile of rocks behind the trail marker. This is the site of an old Indian ruin. If you look closely there are still small bits and pieces of pottery. At this intersection instead of heading east on the Black Mesa trail go west on a well-used single-track trail through a valley of Cholla. This is Garden Valley. Travel through to the small saddle ahead.
Once you pass through the saddle the trail becomes small-rock slippery, watch your step. This part of the trail follows around a canyon then above the north side of First Water Creek. If you look back at one point you will see the opening of a once used mine.
After about three-quarters of a mile there will be a fork in the trail. To the south will be a crude gate, sometimes open, sometimes not. In the background would be views of the corrugated roof of the First Water Ranch. This, to me, is the way to complete the Garden Valley loop. The other trail leads to Hackberry Springs. After what seemed like a short mile you descend into the shadow of what seems as a two hundred foot cliff. Easily findable is a pipe protruding from this precipice. Of course, flowing from this pipe is the spring. I don't know how tasty the water is, but my hound lived through the experience.
It is amazing to me how easily the desert can change. On the other side of this mountain are jumping chollas and mesquites, and here are grasses growing in the wet soil amidst lush green shade trees.
The way home is to continue south through the narrow cliffs and meet back up with First Water Creek. The creek takes you to First Water Ranch. At the ranch just climb the well-traveled hill to the small saddle (turn around and look at the view of Four Peaks) and you will see the horse trailer parking lot where the pay station is. Follow the road in to you car.
My topo software showed this to be a five and a half mile journey.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
2003-02-11 Greg Jackson
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.