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Three Sisters, AZ

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Guide 23 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
3.6 of 5 by 12
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,200 feet
Elevation Gain 2,400 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.2
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
44  2017-01-29
Superstition Peak 5057 - Carney
15  2017-01-14
Turk - 5057 - Three Sisters Loop
27  2016-08-21 adilling
37  2015-02-12
Sisters and Peak 5057
19  2015-01-04
Superstition Peak 5057 - Carney
1  2014-02-23 suzaz
19  2013-11-23
Wave Cave
14  2013-04-01
Superstition Peak 5057 Loop via Hiero
Page 1,  2,  3
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, Mar, Feb, Jan → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
A great Carney alternative
by Fritzski

Want to avoid the crowds at Peralta? The Carney Springs trailhead lies just around the corner and sees but a fraction of the traffic, but what are your options? The Dacite Loop puts you right back on Peralta and may require a shuttle, the trail through W. Boulder Canyon has all but disappeared over the years, and you don't have a whole day required for the entire Ridgeline. The Three Sisters makes for another nice option out of Carney. It offers a nice compact package of over 2400' vertical feet gained in about 3.1 miles and spectacular views from a very rarely visited perch.

The Three Sisters is the massive rock formation looming high above to your left as you approach the Carney trailhead. I was initially tempted to name it "Carney Butte" until I was informed by Jack Carlson, author of the excellent book "Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness", that it has been called the "Three Sisters" according to the now out of print rock climbing guide "Phoenix Rock"(Ver.I). The three prominent buttresses that form its namesake are not readily apparent from some angles, but are indeed there.

For the steep, but well traveled first 1.85mi from the trailhead into a land of enchanting hoodoos and on to the top of West Boulder Saddle, refer to the HAZ database for Dacite Super Loop, West Boulder Canyon, or the Superstition Ridgeline.

From the W. Boulder Saddle, continue west on the Ridgeline trail that has become ever more well worn as its popularity has boomed over recent years. There are also abundant cairns and old white paint marks on some rocks to help in route finding. As you reach about the 1.5 mile point, you will see the slopes rising up to the obscured peak ahead just slightly left of your line of travel. As tempting as it looks to just pick any given ridge for a direct assault, unless you're some kind of sadomasochistic freak, this would be a major mistake. Unfortunately, I'll get back to that later.

In any event, remain on the Ridgeline trail that generally follows a path of least resistance to the 2mi point which basically takes you past your target on the north side. This allows for an approach from the northwest which takes fullest advantage of the Ridgeline trail for gaining as much elevation before departing off-trail. As the Ridgeline trail approaches the top of the ridge at about the 2.25mi point, look for a nice open area in the rapidly thinning vegetation to start making your way back southeast along the highest terrain. The summit area should be become apparent ahead. The grade is moderate, the terrain is relatively smooth, and the vegetation is sparse. As you approach the summit (2.75mi) you will be rewarded with sudden breathtaking views amongst striking rock formations, sheer cliffs, and total solitude. Take plenty of time to explore the bizarre area comprising the three distinct fingers of rock that jut out into space to form the massive formation.

Contemplating your return, from this vantage point it is plain to see the Ridgeline trail as it heads back east directly below you. Now I have preached to others the about the pitfalls awaiting any poor soul who chooses a "shortcut" when there is a trail available no matter how tempting it may look. If only I were smart enough to heed my own advice I would have avoided one of the nastiest short bushwhacks I have ever endured, let alone the fact that I was wearing shorts to make things worse. I had never until this point encountered a bush and boulder choked ravine so thick my little Jack Russell terrier Rusty could not even get through. Anyhow, although I once again needlessly turned a potentially pleasant hike into a meat grinder, it is a very cool hike if you stick to the trail.

(Just a quick note here, Carlson's topo route depiction for the Ridgeline Trail happens to be this very same shortcut - heading directly up from the head of the major ravine separating Carney from the Sisters. The actual trail departs his depiction at about the 1.5mi point and stays north basically following the contour lines until at about 2 miles where it begins a steep southwest climb up the slope to the top of the ridge about 1/2 mile to the west of the Sisters.)

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.

2002-11-12 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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Three Sisters
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Got an early start from Carney Springs just as the sun was coming up and touching on Three Sisters. Met a couple friends who I had yet to hike with so I was excited to spend the day tackling 5057 and Three Sisters with them. We started strong up Carney Rd and through the kissing gate , we shed layers pretty quickly as the sun was starting to warm things up. The first section up the false saddle was the toughest in my opinion but also a lot of fun scrambling over rocks and up slabs. We managed to keep a good pace and stopped at the first saddle to take in the sights and early morning views. The rock formations are incredible and there was no shortage of things to point at and say "oh that's cool". The trail to West Boulder Saddle from here looked tough but we breezed up it without batting an eye.

    From the saddle we had pretty good views of Superstition Peak and into West Boulder Canyon. We then set off skirting above Boulder Canyon toward our destination. The trail is well marked and pretty easy to follow, some really fun sections as you cut around before dropping into and across a wash, again really well cairned. From here to start to climb the backside of Three Sisters, the gain is steady with a few borderline Class 3 Sections. Keep your eye out NW as you will start to see the top of Weever's Peak over the ridge right above West Boulder Canyon. We continued to climb and passed a small waterfall that provided some nice cool water for my head. A little after we passed the turnoff for Three Sisters that we would take on the way back we passed through some goal post cairns and hit a pretty nice saddle. The wind picked up hard so we through on some jackets and continued the push up hill. We hit the fork where the trail heads off right for Ridgeline or up left to 5057. Go left, some guys ahead of us went right and ended up turning around to arrive at the summit about 15 minutes after us. The summit is pretty apparent as you move up through the sea of hoodoos but is also really well marked with cairns. Take some time to explore this area as there is a lot of cool stuff to see. The final push to the summit involves some class 3 but is nothing too crazy. Great views up top; back into the valley, Flat Iron, Weevers, Three Sisters, all great sites on a bluebird day like today.

    We made our way back down and took the fork right to Three Sisters, we found the trail peter out after a half mile, once we gained the first climb, and ended up doing a bit of bushwhacking. My partners were a bit unprepared, donning shorts and trail running shoes, and quickly ended up with legs and feet full of cactus. My leather boots and pants held up just fine as I left them behind and made the final push to Three Sisters for some mazing views and really sweet rock formations. Didn't stay too long or explore too much as my sissy compadres were waiting and ready to go. Once back at West Boulder Saddle I bid them farewell and took off East up the trail.

    After dipping into the drainage, my initial plan was to follow it up to Robbers Roost but I ended up taking a path North following a faint trail and some Cairns which I found out would be the Dacite Super Loop. A very cool, isolated area with many more interesting formations to explore and some awesome sights of Weevers once I gained the ridge. I followed some cairns SE before arriving at a corridor above the Peralta Trail and saddle. Somewhat sketchy scrambling as I headed down hopping from massive boulder to massive boulder and forging a trail down to the saddle. Passed by a mossy spring that I used to help cool off and snap a few pics!

    Finally connecting with Peralta trail, which was packed with Lululemon clad families, I opted for Cave Trail which I have heard of but never taken since I am rarely is this area of the Supes. I thoroughly enjoyed this trail as it was a bit of a problem solver in sections. It passed by many cool little caves and down an area called the fortress, lots of fun going down Devil's Slide and spent some time in "The Tub". Across the wash up to Cathedral Rock where I ran into some climbers I knew and rested with them for a bit. I finished out Cave Trail connecting with Bluff Springs and down to Peralta TH. Unfortunately, I still had a couple miles down the road and across Lost Goldmine to connect with my car. A slow finish to an overall exciting day!
    Three Sisters
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    Sisters and Peak 5057
    I've been to the southern peak a couple of times, but I never stopped by to see the Sisters along the way. I decided to correct that today. First up was the Sisters. If I had anything left after that, then the peak, too. Coming down the freshly graded Peralta Rd, Peak 5057 and the Sisters stood out directly in front of me. I figured about 9.5 miles and 3400 feet total, but it sure looked like a lot more than that. In the end, it felt like it, too.

    If you haven't been to see the Sisters, you should. Stunning views, and some very scary drops that had me on my belly crawling to the edges in some places. Interesting landscape. From below, it looks like nothing but rock but the top is amazingly lush in places. I went as far as I could on the first escarpment, then moved to the next and did the same. That was enough. Gusting winds had me holding onto my hat; I didn't need to be hiking next to sheer drops under those conditions.

    I still felt good so on to the Peak! I love Peak 5057. It's hard getting there, but the views make it worthwhile. The hard part is turning around. Looking north along the ridge line makes you want to keep going. I did once, but not today. After a nice lunch on the peak with some of the best views in the valley, I packed up and headed back to the Carney trail head.

    Another beautiful day in paradise!
    Three Sisters
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Dragged 9L and Zuker out to the Supes for some "Rainy Day Soup"! :D
    Got a nice start in the rain from Carney TH, the walk to the Wave Cave turn off was through squishy mud that felt like wet sponges beneath my feet!

    Both of my companions enjoyed following my relentless off trail route to the cave and were thoroughly impressed with the size and beauty of the cave itself, we had some fun on the "wave" and with a deep breath we headed up the ravine toward the Ridgeline trail and the Three Sisters.
    Once we reached the saddle and the trail we all agreed to turn back toward Boulder Canyon and West Boulder Saddle and back to the jeep.

    The hike along the way back was wet and beautiful! Mini waterfalls and clouds covering the tips of the peaks in the distance. Absolutely LOVE the "Soups" on a rainy day!!
    Thank you 9L and Zuker for letting me drag you out in the rain :D

    Cannot WAIT until Ridgeline next saturday! :y:
    Three Sisters
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Went out into the Wilderness with Hippy and Rachel on a cold, wet and overcast day. The weather would improve as we made our trek into the Supes.

    We started from the Carney Trailhead and proceeded towards the Wave Cave. There are a variety of routes and cairns all over the place. The valley received a lot of rain the past 24 hours and there were several waterfalls falling off the cliffs. I love the Supes in the rain! We did some scrambling and went out of our way as we explored the area near Wave Cave. Eventually we reached the cave and had a lot of fun taking pics. From there we bushwhacked up to the Ridgeline Trail and the Three Sisters area. Afterward we returned to West Boulder Saddle and returned to the jeep.

    This was a fun day and I'm looking forward to the Ridgeline next week.
    Three Sisters
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    had two choices for today, this loop and bluff springs mountain summit
    loaded a bunch of tracks for both and decided to do this one on the drive
    first time on hierglyphics trail
    the rock with water flowing part looks worthy of further exploration, but today i found the trail next to the canyon and just kept moving
    didn't see the hieroglyphics or the balanced rock so a return trip is in order
    the trail above the canyon is well-cairned, perhaps overly so
    a nice helping of AEG with a bit of bushwhacking through overgrowth and some scrambling
    there is a point where two canyons come together, and the trail first goes to the right, then up the section between, then finishes the climb on the left
    at the top, i ran into three backpackers doing the ridgeline
    took a right on ridgeline heading for 5057
    you're not done ascending yet :?
    great views on both sides of the ridgeline where the canyon meets the trail
    found the turnoff for 5057 and met two guys on the way down from the summit - think one of them was haz hikerguy, doing ridgline
    those would be the only people i saw until back at the trailhead
    spent a few minutes on 5057 admiring the views, taking pictures and signing the register (hikerguy was the only other signature today)
    this is the third time i've been on 5057 and i've seen the spur trail leading to three sisters before
    seemed like a good day to go that way
    not really a trail up higher, but not difficult to walk on rock or avoid the cactus
    i went out on two of them, and will have to look more closely at my track to see where i was
    one has a killer dropoff
    good views, and just cool to be up there
    made my way back down to boulder saddle, then down carney
    an unbelievable amount of globemallow on the trail, which contrasted nicely with brittlebush, and made the descent tolerable
    took lost goldmine trail back to the trailhead
    this got a little tedious, and i wouldn't do this exact hike again
    thought about doing devils mountain's loop, but with three sisters tossed in, didn't really want to go back the same way
    unfinished business in this area, as i considered turks head and the wave cave too late
    hiero deserves a little more attention, too
    nice day, as some high clouds and a good breeze kept it cool enough
    i think i like scrambling ;)

    going with moderate as an average, but areas of abundant brittlebush
    predominately brittlebush, globemallow and hedgehog flowers
    substantial globemallow on carney
    light amounts of lupine and other things i don't know the names of
    Three Sisters
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    Ladies and gentlemen...I did it, it was fun, I did this in a sort of loop, started at Carney TH bounced out to ye ol' Wave Cave then scrambled happily above the cave and north along the ravine toward the Ridgeline trail :y:

    First off, awesome area! Great views! Beautiful surroundings! I was in absolute Hippy heaven!

    Somewhere above the cave, maybe a mile or so after, I was singing "we built this city..." As I crossed this little ledge, shelf thing, apparently something on the shelf above me didn't appreciate my singing, whatever it was darted away and handfuls of scree came raining down on my head! Naturally I ducked down into a crouch...and forgot my ledge had a slight dip in it, my feet went out from under and I slid over the side of the ledge down a little cliff at least 6 feet, probably close to ten because I wasn't able to climb back up. I looked around and realized I lost my "trail" in the fall...Ah crap...

    Then I felt something warm and wet on my left leg...I glanced down expecting the worst but I didn't expect to see my left leg thrust knee deep in the putrid, skattered carcass of a bighorn sheep!
    I was up in an instant, snapped a few photos, lifted half of the skull, damn that's heavy! Then I saw the teeth marks...oh god! And now I smell like lion food!!
    All alone, well off trail, covered in death juices...tarzan swinging' AWESOME!!

    I wanted adventure! The Supes never disappoint.

    Anyhow, I was too far to turn back to the Wave Cave trail so I sucked up my fear of being a tiny chunk of kitty food and proceeded up the side of the three sisters. I did find a little spring along the way and I did the best I could to wash the guts off my leg. I armed myself with a sturdy agave "sword" and plowed on.
    About half an hour later I spotted Weavers Needle I knew I'd hit the ridgeline trail within minutes.
    My adrenaline still had me imagining lions behind every rock so I shouted and howled and sang bad 80s songs at the top of my lungs, nothing would mess with that!
    Found the trail, raced to carney spring, washed up again and made it almost to the trailhead when I ran into a guy from Portland, I must have looked as scared as I felt because he kept offering food and water, I was glad to not be alone anymore!!

    Made it to the suby, stopped for a pizza then swung by Chumley's to scrub the dead carcass juices off in his shower. :whistle:

    Awesome adventure, scared myself with good reason, real nice area to bushwhack through! I'll go back someday...just not alone! SITS (solo in the supes)t
    can be creepy! :D
    Three Sisters
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wave Sisters 5057 Roost View Cave Loop
    I always get a kick out of Joe's acceptance of the hikes I propose to him.
    He never truly looks at them usually until that morning, if at all. You'd think he'd have learned by now.

    We left the Peralta TH just before first light, and within 15 minutes, Joe finds a Metate and Mano. After quietly saying hi to Don, we continued up the Lost Goldmine Trail en route to catch a wave at the cave.

    The Wave Cave was cooler than I thought it'd be. It actually quite large inside.

    Now it was time for the fun. We chose scrambling up to get to the Sisters as opposed to following the established trail down 600' in elevation, back up, and 2 miles RT. It was slow going through the thick stuff, but rewarding once we started catching the views.

    Almost to the first Sister, we jumped a large Buck Whitetail. At the Sister, Joe showed off his Boom Camera skills. From here on out, we were on trails or cairned routes for the most part, the rest of the day.

    Over to the top of Peak 5057 for lunch, we saw the first of two groups on the Ridgeline, for the day.

    Next the jaunt to Robbers Roost. I was by here once before, but never found the actual Roost. We found it this time. What a sweet little area. Last time I walked within 20' of the turn to the entrance. You need to find this area to explore.

    From here we stopped a bit for some surfing and then down past the gun-site to the Peralta Saddle. Joe wanted to take a break Weavers Needle Viewpoint bench. So we went out to the end. He was so mad that the Bench was gone, he threw his Camera.

    The Cave trail was our return trip. I saw the alcove with Bob's collection of trinkets and then went up to the real Cave.

    We were treated, for the second week in a row, to a Big Horn Sheep encounter. They were too quick for pictures this time. The Ram vanished first, and the Ewe showed us her jumping ability by going close to 10' vertically, while twisting, to catch the top of a boulder.

    I really enjoyed this loop.
    Three Sisters
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Wave Sisters 5057 Roost View Cave Loop
    Bruce suggest a loop. I look it over lightly. Give the okay. Wake up days later to go to the hike with very limited time. "Oh this is what I agreed on" after really looking at it. Um, I don't know it there is enough time in a day for this but let's go...

    Wave Cave
    This was better than I remember, unique.

    Love Thy Sister
    Glad I went. Spectacular vertical drop from the middle sister. We spied a route up. It looks doable. A better route noted from above. Checked it on topo and looks a tad easier or equal to the ravine approach we took.

    Peak 5057
    Good one, never flipped out about it, probably will return.

    The Roost is on Fire
    Excellent. I've been close many times and never tried to find it. Highly recommended.

    Dacite Tide is Rockin'
    Still kickin'

    Peralta Saddle
    As with many parts of this loop... things I remember being difficult passed virtually unnoticed. The down ascent to the saddle was nothing. Apparently I went straight down in the past. Easing down on the side took maybe five minutes.

    Cave Trail
    Kinna tired and wanted it over. An old favorite so I file the displeasure under circumstances. Near the Bluff Springs junction we witnessed a remarkable display of nature. Two bighorns flying across the desert landscape. The spectacular part was watching them jump a twelve foot vertical section bouncing off a wall straight up. Luckily Bruce saw it or it was sure to go into the "sure whatever joe" file.

    Some yellows out and one purple daisy, didn't expect anything.

    Trickles/pools here and there. Unexpected snow pack for a quarter mile on ridgeline.

    Started just before sunrise and just after sunset. Mighty fine loop Bruce assembled maximizing the available daylight, to within minutes... thank you

    cool idea, terrible execution
    Three Sisters Agave Cam
    Three Sisters
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    No, I didn't hike this, but it's close enough for talking points. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, I received a call from Pam (Outdoor Lover) asking if I could meet her and Van (Vancar) at the Carney Spring Trailhead around 5:00. They were having route problems along the ridgeline and wouldn't have enough daylight to hike the Lost Goldmine Trail to their car parked at Hieroglyphic Trailhead. I wasn't doing anything important, so I agreed to be their shuttle.

    I just took my camera along since I expected it to be a fairly short wait, parked the Explorer and hiked the trail to the Wilderness fenceline. Soon my cell phone rang again, and Pam told me that they were going to be later than expected due to finding the way up to 5057. I wandered around as the sun got lower, presenting me with some interesting shots of the Three Sisters rock formations and the desert scenery. All the while, I could hear voices coming from the direction of the Dacite Cliffs.

    Before long, the sun was setting and the coyotes were sounding off so I trekked back towards the parking lot. Along the way, I caught some movement along the cliffs and saw hang gliders floating down. The lighting was too far gone and the distance too great so I was unable to get a shot of them, but it was quite a sight. They must have landed close to the Don's Camp.

    Back at the parking lot, now dark, I spotted a figure walking down the trail heading my way. I asked him if he had seen a couple up on the ridge, and he said he had met them close to the 5057 peak and they were perhaps an hour behind him. Then I spotted the lights way up on the mountain coming down Carney.

    The coyotes were howling again from back by the Quarter Circle U ranch site and the temp was dropping and I was still watching the lights slowly progressing down the mountain. It can be deceiving how close those lights can appear, but finally I could see them on the trail in front of me. Then finally two figures materialized out of the wilderness, Pam and Van had made it down and out (down and out is a good description of their condition too) :o

    After a bit of chit-chat about the experience they had been through, I drove them to the Hieroglyphic parking lot where they kinda limped into Van's SUV and we parted. Glad everyone's OK after that one. I made it back home around 8:00, too late for dinner, so I just had a beer then called it a nite :)
    Three Sisters
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    One morning last week, I was driving down Peralta Road on my way to the Peralta Trailhead. It was early and the sun was yet to rise above the ridges to my east but the large full moon hung only slightly above the Superstition ridgeline. The sight was like a magical moment, but I wanted to get on the Peralta Trail and get some pre-dawn shots, so I filed this one away for another opportunity.

    That opportunity presented itself this morning, so I got another early start and parked my truck at the Carney Spring Trailhead. I was a bit too early, so I passed some time experimenting with shots of the bright moon. As it turned out, the moon was too far away from the Superstition Ridgeline and, although it was bright, it wasn't in the same place I had witnessed only a couple of days earlier (DUUUH :? )

    Not one to waste a series of early sunrise shots, I headed along the Lost Goldmine Trail until I was close to the Three Sisters Rock formation. There I set up the camera and tripod and waited until the lighting was more to my liking and began shooting the area.

    I wish there had been some clouds in the sky to break up the sunrise, but it was an almost perfectly cloudless Arizona sky. I took several shots of the rocks and the ridgeline, but too soon the sun was high enough to make it hard to find the trail as I retraced my route back to the parking lot. I guess I gotta wait for the next full moon and see where it's path takes it.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Land Recreational Permits are available for an individual ($15.00), or a family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18 ($20.00).

    Land Parcel Map

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Carney Spring Trailhead
    7.6 miles east of the junction Idaho Rd / US-60. Turn Left on to FS77 which is Peralta Road. Follow FS77 5.6 miles to a left and up turnoff. Continue 0.6 miles to Carney Spring Trailhead.

    This trailhead and the first 0.5 miles is periodically enforced as being on State Land, see permit for info.
    2 easy ways to avoid the small lot and fee.
    - Lost Goldmine TH / +0.9 miles GPS Route
    - Peralta TH w/restrooms / +1.3 miles GPS Route

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 46.3 mi - about 1 hour 6 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 95.8 mi - about 2 hours 12 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 191 mi - about 3 hours 10 mins
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