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West Boulder Canyon, AZ

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Guide 12 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
3.7 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Shuttle 10.35 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,200 feet
Elevation Gain 2,280 feet
Avg Time Hiking 10 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.95
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
4  2019-01-22
Superstition Ridgeline
23  2017-11-19
Willow Springs from First Water TH
15  2014-01-06
Robbers Roost - Superstitions
6  2014-01-06
Robbers Roost - Superstitions
9  2013-01-20
Willow Springs from First Water TH
5  2010-03-14 Tough_Boots
15  2009-12-03
W Boulder Cyn to Willow Springs
5  2005-03-08 kingsfifthgps
Page 1,  2
Author arizonaheat
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 0
Photos 342
Trips 45 map ( 518 miles )
Age 63 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Nov, Mar, Jan → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:28pm
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
by arizonaheat

Fritzski wrote: I would recommend this trail (or lack thereof) to that masochistic someone looking for a challenge that has basically exhausted almost everything else on his/her list. I say this because although your ultimate goal, Willow Springs, may be really neat (I wouldn't know, I didn't make it), getting there is a bear to say the least...

He also stated: I'm being generous when I say that every so often a hint of what once was a trail would appear, only to beg the question of who ever else was insane enough to be down in this jungle.

Teva wrote of my Hieroglyphics to Ridgeline hike: you're nuts!!!

All the above statements are 100% correct.

Well yesterday, 12/06/02, this masochistic insane nut and three other masochistic insane nuts that go by the handles of Ally, Cactuscat and Jmzblond, met at First Water Trailhead at 5:15 AM, left a vehicle, piled into another vehicle and headed for Carney Springs Trailhead, to make an assault on West Boulder Canyon from Carney Springs to First Water.

We were on the trail to West Boulder Saddle at 6:15 AM, marching toward our destination, in the dark. We stopped and took in an awesome sunrise, on our assent toward West Boulder Saddle. At West Boulder Saddle we enjoyed a short break and a snack, before the assault began.

With Cactuscat taking the lead we followed the Superstition Ridgeline Trail for a quarter mile or so before finding what looked like as good a place as any to drop into the deep dark abyss and jungle (yes a true jungle in the desert) below, known as West Boulder Canyon. We slowly and cautiously worked our way down into the bottom of the drainage and began working our way down the canyon. We were able to follow the bottom of the drainage for awhile , then wham, a thicket of jungle a snake couldn't slither through. It was then necessary to work up the side of the canyon a ways, until we found a game trail to follow. By the looks of the prickly pear, Javalina were the main users of this trail, the prickly pear have been munched on big time.

After following this route for awhile, Jmzblond, with the rest of us concurring, decided it was time to drop into the bottom of the drainage for another go of it. It was absolutely awesome inside the drainage, we were all awestruck with the beauty, the rock formations and numerous pools of water left from the recent rain. It was a true sight to behold, we were like a bunch of young kids out exploring and discovering. Our own private playground.

Soon we ran into the jungle barrier again and options for an exit to get up on the canyon walls looked grim to say the least. After scoping things out I thought I spotted what may be a possible exit, but it wouldn't be easy. Being the masochistic insane nuts we are we decided to give it a go. Taking the lead, I dropped to my hands and knees and began crawling through the thicket of cat claw and various other forms of thorny, pokey things. (It is amazing how far your skin can stretch when cat claw grabs it). We eventually crawled through to a point where we could at least stand up to whack the bush. Alas we finally found ourselves on a fairly steep sidewall of the canyon free of the jungle thicket. We thought whew finally back to some half way easy going, but you know what happens when you let your guard down? Well I will tell you. A prickly pear cactus will jump out of nowhere and viciously attack one of your hiking companions. An attack so vicious that it requires the removal of ones... ( never mind). Lets just say it required surgical removal with tweezers, blood was drawn and PURPLE was the color du jour.

We checked our progress to this point and found our pace since dropping into West Boulder Canyon, was a foot blistering 0.5 mile per hour. We were now about 0.75 miles from Adolph Ruth's camp, rock corral and Willow Springs. The story was about the same the rest of the way to Willow Springs. We found the point where we think Fritzski said screw it, and it was easy to understand why, but alas our crawling skills had been honed earlier in the trip, a short crawl and a whack and we were home free. After this point things open up and it is an easy shot to the rock corral and Willow Springs.

The rock corral is an unbelievable sight. I was surprised how large it is. The amount of work that went into it is absolutely mind boggling. The corral is heavily over grown and would be easy to miss if you aren't paying attention. From the corral to Willow Spring is less than a tenth of a mile.

We ate lunch a Willow Spring and Cactuscat and I drew water with our filters. The water in many of the potholes along the way looked better. The spring is surround by cattails and flows over rock to the lone willow that is deader than a doorknob. The woodpeckers have obliterated it. However, there are new shoots making their way up.

From Willow Spring we basically stayed in the drainage to a point, where Palomino Mtn. And Dead Woman's Cave came into view. We then exited to the bank where we found a trail that had us on the Lost Dutchman Trail in short order. We were at First Water Trailhead at 3:30.

This was a very challenging hike involving boulder hopping the entire length of the canyon ,bush whacking a good part of it and crawling, the only thing we didn't have to do was crawl on our bellies. We all had a blast. If you ever consider doing this hike just remember you are totally on your own once you drop into West Boulder Canyon, you aren't going to find any kind of a trail, other than game trails and there aren't going to be cairns to show you the way. It is you, your skills and the canyon. West Boulder Canyon may have took blood from us all, but we, the Masochistic Insane Nut Kokopelli's WON!!!! WAHOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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

2002-12-07 arizonaheat
    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
    West Boulder Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    If you want to hike out to Willow Spring, use the posted trail. Do not follow the route I took on the first half of my hike today. I did this hike for the workout (bouldering rocks!) plus a chance to see some new stuff.

    The first part of the hike followed the FW Upper Creek Loop. When the creek trail bends back towards Dutchman, I continued south following a route I picked up from the SAR website. The route was what I expected for the most part, until I ran into a jungle, then it got nasty for a bit. I must have missed a turn, cause I can't imagine anyone wanting to go through that. After reviewing my route a week later and comparing it to the SAR route, I did miss a turn; I should have stayed above the fray and skirted around to the NE, where the brush ends, before bending back to the SE.

    Merged onto WB canyon at the end of the SAR route, then bumpy smooth sailing to the spring. Good water at the spring, but nothing (or nothing good) anywhere else.

    Snapped some pics at Willow Spring, then headed over to the stone corral to see if I could find some good shots there. I found the south anchorage and I could see the anchorage on the other side. I am assuming that the thick brush that's there now must have been there when Adolf Ruth cleared that out and built the wall. It's truly amazing what people were willing to do out here in this wilderness.

    I followed the official Willow Spring route back to FW trailhead. Ignore the large cairn to your left as you head back. The cairn invites you to leave the creek into the bush to the west. It's part of the official route, but it's so overgrown in there that you'll quickly regret leaving the creek. I did.

    I exited WB creek along a cairned route below Tim's Saddle and followed the path up and over Tim's and another saddle farther along. I hooked up with Dutchman again at Parker Pass. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed Dutchman after all of that boulder hopping.

    Fun hike, but only if you like off trail and boulder hopping. Lot's of both today. The weather was perfect. I didn't see anyone (and didn't expect to) until the last couple of miles on the Dutchman trail. Then I saw a few families enjoying the outdoors on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.
    West Boulder Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Another fun day out with Larry. I could wander around Dacite Mesa all day and not get bored and that's pretty much what we did. From the saddle we headed for the Gargoyle and then went around back and across the small valley to the area above Fremont. From there we meandered our way south on a different route, back down to the old, dead tree where you cross the drainage to head up to the Roost. We made it to the Roost for lunch and Larry enjoyed his first visit and the photo ops.

    Coming up out of the Roost we headed east to the ridge above Peralta Canyon for some excellent views of the Cave Trail and Weavers. Then it was back on the trail to Fremont. Larry had the great idea of coming down through Bark's, which neither of us had done. We hiked out to the Overlook area and found the trail that lead down. No surprise, there's more cool stuff down there! We did a little off-trail work down a giant-boulder drainage which was fun and then made our way down to Bluff Spring's Trail and out.

    Just another spectacular day in the awesome Superstitions!
    West Boulder Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Well Van and I got kind a early start. Van decide to take me to Robbers Roost. It was my first time there and I wanted to see the Gargoyle. So we took the long way around and the views never stopped. After leaving Robbers Roost I decide to surf a little While Van ate lunch.
    I know the trail back should have been the Cave Trail but I talked Van into trying the Barks Upper Canyon. This was also awesome after awhile the cairns stopped and we freelanced the rest. It was interesting and of course we always comeback.
    Lets see what next Monday brings
    West Boulder Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Fritzki nailed it when describing this as long and grueling. I mean, it takes about 3-3.5 hours each way, the trail that leaves the Dutchman isn't even on recent maps, and there's no trail through portions of W Boulder Canyon itself, and not many people come here. And it's only got a nice creek with some neat slickrock and an old corral. The willow tree next to the spring isn't even there anymore, sheesh! Who would possibly visit this place, it's miserable! ;)

    On a historical note, the trip description suggests that Ruth built the corral. I was always under the impression that Adolph was a bit of an academic in that he was neither an outdoorsman nor accustomed to hard labor. I thought I read that he showed up for this trip in a business suit, of all things. Barkley's team, I thought, recognized his general incompetence for the outdoors and packed him into this existing camp (suggesting the corral and workings had already been constructed by the cowboys) in order to keep him in an isolated spot where he could not possibly foul things up or get himself killed. But in the end he still managed, and the coroner actually pronounced the holes in his skull as natural causes, though many today agree they could have been bullet holes from a small caliber.
    West Boulder Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    After the safari I was finally able to begin hiking again. Had stopped anything but urban hikes to make sure I was in shape for the safari.

    Took a couple side trips, the first yellow mesa (furthest west) had what has always looked like a wall with an opening behind it. Bushwhacked up to it. Turns out it's nothing except a few holes in the cliff. But a nice view from up there. Hiked about a mile up the west boulder creek canyon.
    West Boulder Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    An excellent adventure Friday doing WBC with jmzblond, azheat, and Ally. Basically it was a boulder hopping, bushwacking, tarantula touching, rock petting good time! I can't remember the last hike I enjoyed this much - or when I've laughed as much as I did with those goofballs! Judging from some of our ideas and conversations, future hikes with them may prove to be even more crazy and fun. :lol: Even though it sounds like we all had a great time, I wouldn't recomend this hike to anyone; really - DON'T GO!! Okay, okay - I just don't want alot of people marching through there and messing the place up. If you do go remember your LNT basics - no more wads of t.p. in the creekbed, please! And for god's sake, no more fire rings! We saw at least 6-8 (although there won't be that many left after the next time I pass through, I promise you that). Last but not least, don't forget to wear a nice pair of underwear, because this hike may knock your PANTS off!! :wink:
    West Boulder Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Did this hike w/ fellow HAZers Cactuscat, Ally, and Arizonaheat. We started at the turn-off from Peralta Road to the Carney Springs T/H in the dark. We went up to West Boulder Saddle, watched the sunrise then dropped down into the canyon. Bushwhacked and crawled through the canyon all the way to Adolph Ruths corral, took a lunch break at Willow Springs, and eventually intersected the Dutchman Trail. From there we hiked to our shuttle vehicle at the First Water T/H. Afterwards, we all celebrated over pizza and ice cold beers at Panhandlers Pizza off Hwy 60. All in all it was one of the most fun, and rewarding hiking days I've had. Now I just can't wait to see what stories and nicknames surface about me!! I only recommend this hike to the truly adventurous at heart with a down and dirty sense of fun... not for the weak-willed, or casual day-hikers.

    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 / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    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
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it like you mean it
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