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Wave Cave, AZ

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Guide 84 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
3.4 of 5 by 32
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,204 feet
Elevation Gain 890 feet
Accumulated Gain 890 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.55
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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18  2019-04-28 adilling
6  2019-03-23
Robbers Roost - Superstitions
12  2019-02-26
Wave Cave
8  2019-01-20 olllllo
2  2019-01-20
Superstition Mnts - SW / Carney Springs Wall
19  2018-11-25 adilling
9  2018-11-18 jacobemerick
7  2018-03-07 caragruey
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author DavidNLetlet
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 21
Trips 2 map ( 12 miles )
Age 55 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec
Seasons   Late Autumn
Sun  6:10am - 6:29pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Superstition Pipeline
by DavidNLetlet

Dubbed the "Wave Cave" by Joe Bartels in 2002. Check out the underlying surfing dream for full details.

See directions about avoiding the parking issue.

If you are looking for a departure from the usual Peralta to Fremont Saddle, Bluff Springs, or West Boulder Saddle routine, this may be the hike for you. Having said that, there is bushwhacking, boulder-hopping, confusing cairns going the wrong way, NO signage, steep, slippery inclines/descents, loose dirt/gravel, a great cave, and some of the best scenery the Superstition Mountains have to offer. Relaxing day. This is also a great route up to the Superstition Ridgeline. Still interested? Read on.

This is a shorter hike out near Peralta. 4.25 miles, at best, but it is a tough little route. It isn't off trail, but it is a very faint trail (likely dating to the 50's-60's) that we have been quietly resurrecting over the last year. We recommend long sleeves/pants (and perhaps gloves) due to some catclaw, and the generally overgrown nature of the "trail" in spots. As such, snakes (and other critters), may be present, and can be hard to spot due to the vegetation. In addition, a recent presence of bees have been noted at the cave (similar to those found at Wind Cave at Usery Mountain Regional Park). Stay away from them, and you should be fine, but if they are a concern for you, this may not be your hike. Many might find walking sticks/poles helpful on this hike, though they are not a necessity.

Begin this hike from the Carney Springs Trailhead and proceed in a northwesterly direction along the old road bed for about a mile to a fence line that marks the Superstition Wilderness. Look ahead of you and to the right, and pass through the gate into the Wilderness area. Continue up the trail maybe a quarter mile or so and take the faintly marked trail to the left just the other side of the old palo verde tree ( Ironwood ). This spot sometimes has a cairn at it, and usually has some rocks laid across the entrance to it. There is an obvious trail at this junction to the left, but it quickly becomes a bit less distinct as you travel it. Just keep your eyes out for the cairns as you go, and continue to follow a generally west-northwest direction as you climb ever so gently in a diagonal direction toward a deep wash which shall become evident upon reaching it in a half mile or so. At the wash, descend carefully into it along one of the two paths in the area, and proceed in a northerly direction up the wash for some distance (just a couple tenths of a mile) until you see a rather pointy large boulder to the left of the wash, at which time you should see the cairns taking you out of the wash to the left. At this point, the real climbing begins. However, it is brief, as you will reach the cave within 5-10 minutes, as you steadily make your way up the embankment on a rather remarkably clear trail considering the route so far.

The cave will be visible to you at various points along the route, including a clear view from the trailhead itself. Keep an eye out as you travel towards it, and you should have no issues reaching it first time out. At the cave, you will find a welcome respite from the climb in the confines of a large deep opening cut into the rock over time, that provides ample shade and delightfully cooler temperatures during your visit. Some evidence of man in the form of spray painted graffiti marks the walls of the cave in some spots. There is a marvelous wave shaped rock jutting out of the floor of the cave, that lends itself to great photo opportunities for those interested. Travel back around and in front of the cave and to the west 50 feet or so, and you will find a smaller "guest house" cave next to this one. Each cave provides a great spot to enjoy lunch, and overlook the valley far below to the south. Return the same way, or continue up the wash to the left to reach the Superstition Ridgeline across the Superstitions to the west, or turn to the right (east) to make a loop hike coming down at West Boulder Saddle or continuing on to Robber's Roost and Fremont Saddle (or even Cave Trail, if you wish) to add distance, and adventure to this wonderful hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

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

2012-03-15 DavidNLetlet
    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 25 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Wave Cave
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Wave Cave
    Good hike!! Really crowded. Took 30 minutes to finally find a parking place. Parking was much better when I came down about 3:00. The trail splits near the top. Both routes get you there, but the right "official" track was toughter on the way down. Lots of friendly hikers enjoying the great weather.
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I've done this hike a couple of times in the past--the first was inadvertent as I missed my turn from Carney Springs, and the second was just for fun since I wanted something that wouldn't take half a day but still climb enough to feel a good workout. On neither of those occasions did I pass another human being on the trail. Enter yesterday.

    We decided to go for a hike with my brother's family--that's two masculine and burly men, two petite women, and four awesome kids (11, 10, 8, and 7). I assured them that this is a really cool hike that will pack a little punch all the way to the "cave" that we will have to ourselves. I should have known something was different when we were in traffic on Peralta Road--"they're all going to Peralta," I said. Then we made it to the Carney Springs Trailhead, and to my surprise...packed. Overflowing even. We wouldn't be parking there, and I was shocked. I have never seen more than two other cars in that lot. So we continued along another mile to a lot just shy of Peralta and hit the road, as they say.

    It was a very good hike, but once we passed the fence and our hike connected with the Carney trail, it was BUSY. We're talking VERY busy... one of the most heavily trafficked hikes I have ever done. On the way up, busy...packed. At the cave, as packed. On the way down, MORE packed... I enjoyed the hike very much, and largely because of the kids and their enjoyment matched by their effort. We were even witness to a helicopter rescue for a gentleman on our way out--thankfully he was alert and I hope he is okay, but it was something I'd not witnessed in person, and the kids enjoyed seeing the helicopter hovering above.

    I may have missed something or just lucked out in the past, but I've used the CS parking lot many times in the past, and rarely would pass people to the Wave Cave or 5057, but this hike--as great as it was with kids and family--has apparently gone viral :D
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Waves Caves and a Roost
    I started at Lost Goldmine TH. This is a variation of the Dacite Super Loop, but instead of taking the first leg up to West Boulder Saddle, I took the Wave Cave trail and then followed the draw to the top. The weather was cool at the start, a bit humid under overcast skies. I had extra layers on for the bushwhack up the draw, so I was happy to have clouds and cool temps.

    My conditioning stinks after a long layoff, so I didn't know how this would go. While I had a great time taking in several of the Peralta classics, this hike kicked my pumpkin every which way but loose. I had several bailouts along the way, the first just turning around at the Wave Cave (I was tempted), but I chose to grind it out and take in all of the sights. Glad I did.

    With the big crowds that visit the Wave Cave, I expected to see some trash up there, but it was spotless. The bushwhack up the draw wasn't bad if you don't mind rock hopping and pushing through some brush.

    Once on top I picked up the ridgeline trail and headed to the WB Saddle where I stopped to eat and soak in the views before heading to Robbers Roost. The Roost is always an interesting adventure. The enormous rock formations in that area are a sight to behold. The leg to Fremont Saddle always seems to be more up than down. Gets me every time.

    Fremont Saddle was dotted with the usual crowds. I didn't stop, opting to head to the Weavers overlook and a lunch break. It was nearly as crowded there. I found a rocky perch away from the crowd and ate my lunch. The overcast skies had given way to partly cloudy. The hoodoos above Peralta Canyon were bathed in bright sunshine one moment, than in shadows the next, providing stunning views as sun and shadows alternated down the canyon.

    When I finished lunch, getting up was not so easy. I sat too long and was stiff as a board. Time to get moving. The Cave Trail was a delight, as always. The alcove with the numerous cairns had been tossed the last time I was here. It was nice to see that it had been restored. I call it the trinket room because of the way the teeny cairns are displayed along the ledges in the alcove.

    As I made my final leg down Bluff Springs, I could see the Peralta TH and was thankful to be done. Then I realized I had another half mile walk to the Lost Goldmine lot. Ugh. Rather than do the road walk, I headed into the brush behind the restrooms and worked my way to the Don's Camp. Seems like a great place. I wonder why it isn't used anymore.

    Great hike. I brought 3 liters of fluids and drank all of it, running out just as I arrived at the parking lot. Perfect.
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Connecting the Y - Wave Cave/W Boulder Sdl Lp
    A beautiful day for a hike! We started off this morning from Carnie Springs TH, and arrived at Wave Cave under an hour later. We stopped briefly to take pictures of the coiled rattlesnake that was just off trail. We had no less than 15 people tell us about that snake. The snake was seriously PO'd that 30 people were walking by him, but not mad enough to move, I guess! We had a bite to eat at wave cave, and took the requisite surfing pictures. :) It was our first time here, after all! I kept thinking about that trip log that mentioned a board game convention had 50 people sleep over in the cave. Yikes. I mean the cave is big, but that is a LOT of people. After our snack, it was upward and onward to our real adventure!!

    I am a lazy sort. I really wanted to see wave cave and west boulder saddle. In the same trip. And I didn't want to lose all the elevation we had just gained. So instead, we followed Joe & Eagle's route [ custom map ] where they cut up the ravine from wave cave. It was simple enough, but bush whacking is slow, especially with friends that maybe didn't understand what you said when you said there is no trail. Alas. It was a slog, but worth not going down and back up (see, lazy!!). I am very thankful for the rattles on rattlesnakes, as I almost stepped on one while bushwhacking. There is nothing like that sound!! The perfect warning signal!

    We were ecstatic to see the top of the canyon and flat ground. :) A few more steps and we met up with the ridgeline trail (yay! a trail!). I was amazed at the sheer number of cairns on the ridgeline trail. Not that I am complaining, but wowzers! In no time, we were at the West Boulder Saddle. We enjoyed the silly sign there. But hey, it's descriptive! It needs a refresh, though, because the letters are fading out. Then, DOWN DOWN DOWN. That is some steep down. I guess it's no less steep than the wave cave trail, and I have to say I'll take the rock of west boulder saddle trail over the slippery dirt of wave cave on the steep parts, any day. It was pretty anticlimactic, just the usual downward momentum. We enjoyed the views and the plethora of wild flowers!! :) We saw a million people on wave cave trail, but past that, we saw no one from when we left the wave cave until we were almost back to the car. And wouldn't you know it, they were coming down from wave cave.

    Before we knew it, we were back at the car, ready to get back to life's commitments!!!! :O ;)

    Wildflowers were everywhere!!! So beautiful! The rainy spring bounty!
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The Trailhead is 6 miles down Peralta Rd on the left. Stay straight and go through the wired fence and then veer left down a lightly trafficked, narrow path. Use the stacked rocks as markers to make sure you are going in the right direction. Good incline towards the end of the hike but not too bad. Absolutely loved the cave. We got the classic silhouette picture. You can see it from the first fence marked "Superstition Wilderness".
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I wanted to check this local favorite off my list. As we approached the Wave Cave, we heard what sounded like a party. We arrived at the cave to find a group of 30-35 people just hanging out in the cave. Any photo opportunities would have to wait until they left. Ultimately they started their way down and we only had to share the cave with another 8-9 people. We were able to get the traditional silhouettes, take pics for other groups and then head back down. If there were any secrets about this hike, the word is out now. I estimate about 55-60 people on the trail or in the cave in the short time that we were out there.
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Been several years since doing this nice little hike, I know as I get older I tend to forget little things more frequently, :o but how could I forget the elevation gain, especially near the cave :sweat: I won't forget again !!!
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wave and the Robber
    My oldest son Rob and his GF are in town for the holidays. I wanted to give them a Superstition Sampler and decided on a loop that included a few of the sights. The Wave Cave, Robbers Roost, the Dactite Wave, the Gun site, and Weavers Needle.

    I finally got to meet Kat (Snakemarks) at the TH, all decked out in her uniform, making sure all the hikers needs were taken care of.

    Twas a chilly morning, but we warmed up snaking along the Lost Gold Mine Trail. We passed up 3 groups coming down from the Wave Cave. I was impressed by the last group, with their Christmas garb and Old Geezers shirts. This trail does get a bit steep and loose. This left us with the Cave to ourselves.
    Video :next: ... FbBM

    Next the climb to Old Bolder Saddle. We stopped and had some lunch there. We ran into 2 day hikers and two backpackers up there.

    Next off to the Robbers Roost. I'd been there twice before, but had a bit of a problem finding the Southwest route in. If you miss it by even 8 feet, you are not getting down and there are a lot of useless cairns in the area.

    We stopped for some photos at the surfboard and made our way down to the Peralta trail to complete the loop.

    A fun day with Rob and Linsdy...
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    First time to the wave cave. There is a well traveled trail all the way there. Some folks were camping in the cave with a fire and toilet paper etc. strewn about. I hope they cleaned up before they left. No reason not to get out of the cave to do your business.

    Fortunately the company was good and we enjoyed the hike anyway. :)
    Wave Cave
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The Wave Cave has been on the list for a while, just haven't been able to fit it in. A few weeks ago we scheduled it as our New Years Day hike. However, at that time, we had no idea just how cold it was going to be and that snow would be mixed in. The day before we discussed if we were still going to stick with the plan or try something else due to the weather. The morning of we decided we would head out and just see what happens.
    There was a good amount of Snow on the Superstitions this morning. We arrived at Carney Springs Trailhead and it was packed. We headed out, found the tree for the turn off and we were set. I was worried about route finding after reading the description, but the trail is pretty obvious for the most part. The snow was nice, it wasn't enough to cause any issues.
    The cave was cool, in several ways, it was cold. We surfed, snacked, chilled, then headed down. On our way up we passed 1 group of people coming down. On our we down we passed several groups headed up, and the small parking area was packed, people were even parked in the road.
    Really enjoyed this one, distance wise its short, but the climb makes you pay, and the cave is a good reward for that climb. The snow was a nice touch, I'm glad we didn't reschedule as we got some unique pictures of the area.
    The Trail decription was right on in helping us find our ways, some of the distances were a little off, but close enough. on the way back we ended up on a trail that crossed the wash a little bit higher up but it got us were we needed.

    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
    page created by DavidNLetlet on Mar 15 2012 5:53 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
    help comment issue

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