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Dripping Springs Super Loop, AZ

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Guide 55 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
4 of 5 by 22
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 19 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,400 feet
Elevation Gain 1,305 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 9-11 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 35
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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14  2017-12-14 survivordude
38  2015-02-22
Whiskey-Red Tanks-Coffee Flat Loop
14  2014-01-11 wallyfrack
5  2013-11-03 Lucyan
23  2013-10-05 RowdyandMe
42  2012-12-26
Tortilla via Peralta TH
9  2012-11-03 John9L
5  2012-03-11
Red Tanks Super Loop - Peralta TH
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author arizonaheat
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 0
Photos 342
Trips 45 map ( 518 miles )
Age 63 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:29pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
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by arizonaheat

Dutchman Trail #104, Coffee Flat Trail #108, Red Tanks Trail #107, Whiskey Spring Trail #236, Dutchman Trail #104

Arizonaheat has wanted to do this loop for quite some time, but had been debating on whether to do it as a day hike or an overnighter. Well, I decided to make a day trip out of it. The loop itself is 19 miles and I threw in another 5 mile, off trail loop, for a grand total of 24 miles.

I departed from the Peralta Trailhead at approximately 6:00 AM, noticing I was the first one there and this meant one thing, total solitude on the trail. I headed up the Dutchman making the ascent to where it overlooks Barkley Basin. As I looked across Barkley Basin before making my descent the sun was about to pop up over the horizon. There was a definite invigorating briskness in the air.

I dropped down into Barkley Basin, crossing Lower Barks Canyon and the trail to the grave of the unknown soldier. I continued across Barkley Basin, where I ran into Victoria, Jarrod, Nick and Heath Barkley (for those of you that remember them), to my dismay Audra wasn't with them, but to my delight I would run into her later in my journey (see photo). After a short visit with them in was on past Miners Needle, to where the Dutchman and Coffee Flat Trails intersect. Wildflowers and blooming cactus were scattered along this stretch of trail.

I headed down the Coffee Flat Trail and this is where sensory overload really began to kick in. My eyes and brain could barely process what I was seeing. It was like an oasis in the desert (see numerous photos). I soon found myself at Whitlow Corral. The trail forks at a point shortly before the corral. The better-worn portion of the trail will take you to Whitlow Corral, where you open a gate to continue toward the Circle U Ranch. If you are heading to Dripping Springs as I was you will want to bear left at the fork, but the corral is definitely worth checking out. I took a short break here.

From the corral, I got back on the Coffee Flat Trail, taking in all the lush greenery. I soon found myself dropping down into an oasis called Reeds Water, complete with windmill, water running down the creek, cotton wood trees and a plethora of other flora (see pictures). A word of caution, shortly after Reeds Water you will come upon a cliff face in which the trail will fork. If you are going to Dripping Springs bear left.

It was at the point where the trails fork, that I left the trail and went on my loop, which ended up being an adventure in itself. Basically what I did was follow the flowing creek for about 2.5 miles. Then I plugged the coordinates for Dripping Springs into my GPS and it said it was two and a half miles. So off I went up a drainage slightly to the North of Buzzards Roost. I then left the drainage and ascended to the summit close to Buzzards Roost following an old Forest Service boundary fence line, with a USGS corner stake marker dated 1917. From the summit I descended down the other side and intersected the Coffee Flat Trail to Dripping Springs. There was some bushwhacking involved and very steep terrain to climb, on this off trail adventure. It took me 3 hours to cover 2.5 miles. (see photos).

Once back on the Coffee Flat Trail, I was at Dripping Spring in no time. I stopped here and ate lunch along the flowing Red Tanks Canyon drainage and reflected on my off trail excursion. This is a truly beautiful spot. And this is where I ran into Audra Barkley(see photo)

After lunch it was onto the Red Tanks Trail, which intersects with the Coffee Flat Trail right there at Dripping Springs. The Red Tanks basically follows the drainage for a distance, before making the climb toward Red Tanks Divide. After reaching Red Tanks Divide the trail makes a turn and intersects with the Hoolie Bacon Trail (see photo) after a distance. Sections of this trail were very difficult to follow because much of it was obscured with the green carpet covering the desert floor right now.

After passing the Hoolie Bacon trail you entered Upper LaBarge Box, which is a very rugged very scenic stretch of trail. Soon you will find yourself on the Whiskey Springs Trail, which will hook you back up with the Dutchman and take you back to Peralta.

This was a very enjoyable although long excursion, I would rate it as very difficult for a day hike due to length and roughness of terrain. If I include my off trail excursion I would have to say it was a more difficult and physically demanding 24 miles than the Rim to Rims I have done.

Pictures are worth a thousand words and will tell the story better than me.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. It would be insane to attempt this entire hike without prior experience hiking.

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.

2003-04-06 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 of 25 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Five years ago I did this hike for the first time, exactly one month later in the year. And going in a clockwise direction.

    I get ahead of myself... I started out just before 7 from the Peralta TH to do a 14 mile hike, 7 miles out Coffee Flat and back. When I got to where the Read Tanks joins the Coffee Flat I made the decision to change my itinerary. I'd take the Red Tanks back. I figured I'd done this before, it was a cooler day than the previous time, I had plenty of water and I was indestructible. Of course I ignored that I didn't have any food and I was 5 years older. Going CCW was really different, the up hills seemed longer and steeper. On the first trip the trail was covered in wildflowers. This time it was covered in cats claw and prickly pears. Going CCW I found that I tended to loose the trail easier than I remember happening the first time.

    Then by the time I got to the Whiskey Springs turn off I was already tired, and still had to up that hill.

    The first trip I rated this loop as a 5, if I were going to rate it today it'd probably only be a 3. Wow quite a difference.

    There were two really good things about the hike. The sights at the upper LaBarge box were better going this direction. Never saw the spire and cave from the other direction. The other great thing is I made it.
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I could not decide where to go for birthday hike and stumbled upon this one the night before. I did the research and loaded the maps and I still was not prepared enough for this one. Only 15 minutes of headlamp needed on the Dutchman trail and then through Barkley Basin and to Coffee Flats. This is the easiest hike in all of the Superstitions. IMO The actual hiking is incredibly dull, but those views at sunrise are just some of the best I have ever seen. Also, the thousands of saguaro created quite a forest leading up to the king saguaro. Most arms I have ever seen. Made it to the old trough and windmill at Randolph Canyon in 2 hours and thought I was making great time. Randolph in the fall is beautiful! The colors on all of the trees increased as the canyon walls tightened. As I was making my way to Dripping springs, I saw several of the smallest seeps coming out of the rocks below. The actual spring was dripping.. barely. Only water I saw all day. The camp spot there seems like it would be a great one when the creek is flowing. There were some small caves above but I didnt feel like climbing around in there and I had a lot more hike ahead of me.. A lot more. The start of the Red Tanks section was very gradual and mis-leading! :x After gaining 500 feet in 2 1/2 miles, the trail goes steeper and gains another 500 feet in about 1 mile. Took a lunch break here at 5 hours in. I knew I still had the climb out of Whiskey to Miner's, but I assumed because I was at the highest point on the hike, the rest would be easy peasy. It was not easy peasy. Coming over the saddle into Red Tanks Divide, the views were spectacular and everything was so green and lush. Sometimes it doesnt even make sense that this is considered a desert.. then again, this is December. After not too long I got to really enjoy that lushness up close and personal, as the brush became so thick at times it was nearly impassable. Also, the 'brush' was actually bushes completely made of thorns. At times I felt like I was in the first 'Saw' movie with all the barbed wire. Wearing shorts was not a problem as mostly all of the terrible stuff was waist and above. It had no problem ripping through 2 layers of clothing and shredding half my body. I was shuddering at the thoughts of the show 'Naked and Afraid'. I haven't had my fingers scratched up like that since I bought my daughter a kitten 3 years ago. Trying to go around the trail and find a 'better' way was futile, so I sucked it up and just pushed though. Scared a white tail up the hill (from my shrills of pain probably). Much wildlife will be sustained in those mountains due to the amounts of my flesh torn off and left on those thorns. I finally made it through the worst of it as I got to Upper LaBarge Canyon? This canyon was very remarkable due to it was like 2 views in one the way you peered down through the canyon, and then off to far away landscapes between and beyond. The trail stays mostly on the northern side of the canyon, but once it drops down into the creek, there were some gigantic boulders to navigate and climb around that took some extra time for route finding. Saw the very large Herman's Cave, but didnt bother to even check it out because at that point I was exhausted. Took a well deserved break at the Red Tanks/ Whiskey Springs junction and recharged. The hike up to Miner's saddle was not that bad and I did have enough energy to pick up the pace quite a bit down the hill. Probably not a good idea, because just about the 20 mile mark, I could feel myself starting to really break down. Back at the Coffee Flat junction my legs went into auto pilot. I couldn't feel them moving but they kept going and so did I, and an hour later I was back at the Peralta TH.
    This was a fantastic hike that is only meant for an elite few, because it is an extremely tough one! Always good to push your limits but you have to know what those limits are and respect your own intuitions. I really pushed myself out there and maybe too much because that night and since then, I have had a pretty bad fever. I'm sure I will be all well for next Thursday's hike! Be safe out there, everyone!
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Brother-and-law and I had a more ambitious loop planned, cut it short after a scorcher of a day on Friday up Red Tanks. Still got this basic loop done.

    Left Peralta Trailhead around 3pm and headed down Dutchman to Coffee Springs. A few cars parked there, not many. Bumped into one other hiker in Barkley Basin who was low on water, gave her a liter. Reached Reed's Water with the sunset and called it a day. Managed to pull some cool, clean water from the well under the windmill - best water of the trip. Oh, and we really enjoyed that screeching noise the old rusty thing makes when a breeze picks up.

    Late start in the morning, reached Dripping Springs around 9am. Breakfast and fresh water from Randolph Canyon. Headed up Red Tanks Trail, didn't make good time. Hiking partner was carrying a heavy pack and the heat was... hot. Trail was in decent condition, only tricky area was the Randolph crossing. Some cat claw, nothing terrible. We split up about a mile from the top and planned to meet at Brad's Water. I had some trouble finding the trail north of the divide, a few tricky areas, did some basic maintenance as I had the time. Found Brad's Water without a GPS and drank, filtered, and soaked a bit. That cave is my new valhalla. Brother-in-law caught up just as I was packing up and we didn't move on until close to 4. Tried and failed to find anything at La Barge #2. Set up camp east of Hoolie Bacon junction, filtering more water from a scummy pond in La Barge wash as needed. Oh, and we also enjoyed a fight between two Gila monsters. #wilderness

    After freezing our tushes off at camp we got an early start down the Upper La Barge Box. That's a fun rollercoaster. Hiking partner twisted his ankle about a mile in. Rested at junction and then decided to head down Whiskey Springs (instead of attempting Red Tanks Super Loop). Found ...some... water at Whiskey Springs, stopped and had breakfast and made funny faces at the trail cam there. Continued over to Miner's Summit where we saw our first other hikers since that day hiker in Barkley on Thursday. We split here - he took the common path down Miner's and over on Dutchman to the trailhead and I turned and went the Bluff Springs route. Brief stop to filter a few liters there before rejoining at the trailhead.
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Dripping Springs Loop
    Met the Haz group at Peralta TH at 4pm Saturday. Set off to find Jim, Lucy, Cupcake, Blanco and another turtle somewhere near Brad's Water. Made it as far as Whiskey Spring as darkness set in. The near full moon and my headlamp made navigating the trail through upper Labarge box a breeze. As I neared Holy Bacon trail, I spotted a campfire down by Labarge Creek. Must be the other group! They left me a map at the trail junction along with ribbon breadcrumbs leading to camp. Thanks, guys! We had a nice night by the campfire. Later on, Blanco decided he'd go for a late night rabbit chase but fortunately he returned.

    Sunday morning arrived with quite a chill so we cranked the campfire back up as we waited patiently for the sun to rise. Lucy, Lee and myself said our goodbyes to Jim as we set out for the return to Peralta via Dripping Springs. Jim would be spending 2 more days out here, this day heading to Labarge Spring.

    Somewhere near Red Tanks Divide I separated from the group to go look for a small Indian dwelling/mining camp. I had gotten some good info (ok, the GPS coordinates)on its location from a Haz insider. Found it ok but not without a major catclaw and chaparral battle! Got back on the Red Tanks Trail, although it was hard to tell I was on a trail since it's so over-grown now. Passed through Red tanks which has some nice water flowing. Caught up with the group at Reid's Water and we had a nice walk back to Peralta. Another good backpack in the Supes and starting after work on Saturday makes it feel like I had a 3 day weekend :y:
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wow just a perfect day for a long hike. The weather was just perfect a cool 68 to start with a nice little breeze. The bad news, restrooms at Peralta Trailhead close for now :o
    This was one of the more enjoyable hikes for me must a have been the weather.
    Of course Whiskey Springs Trail was loaded with Cat's Claw and as usual they are very unforgiving :scared:
    This is the first time in this area that I did not see any water running or dripping :cry:
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Tortilla via Peralta TH
    This is another hike from last year, however, I think its alright to post now, because it is right around the same time of year, and with the extended holidays coming up, some may be looking for some nice three and four day treks. This hike certainly offered some challenging changes in elevations, cold temperatures, and solitude. Most seasoned backpackers would find this to be a moderate hike in terms of difficulty, route finding (all trail), and total miles.

    We started at Peralta TH the day after Christmas. Our chosen route was the Dutchman's Trail to Coffee Flats, to Red Tanks, Hoolie Bacon, then Peter's Trail back to the Dutchman's Trail and finishing up on Bluff Springs Trail. If you are into simply drawing new lines on your map and knocking out some remote areas of the Supers this hike may be for you.

    Day one was our highest mile day of entire hike. We did not stop much, mainly because of the cool temperatures, we had some Christmas Tamales at a nice deep pool of water along Red Tanks, did a quick side trip to explore what proved to be an old Indian dwelling that utilized a deceptively deep cave. Although, the cave was not hard to locate only a short distance into Red Tanks Trail, it seemed not many people had been, because there was literally plate size pot sherds littering the ground. Our day one goal was to stay at Brad's Water which is in a side canyon/wash before you reach Hoolie Bacon, however, once we got there, we chose to just push forward, as we knew water was not going to be an issue. For future reference Brad's Water always has water, I will put my name and honor to that, if you are ever in a pinch during hot months, there will be water. However, it is not easy to find, I don't know if it was man-made, but it is essentially a small cave or rock grotto that has filled with water, about waste deep and pretty far back. We chose to camp our first night near the opening/beginning of Trap Canyon, just off Hoolie Bacon. We ran into the only people we saw on entire hike around five or so in the afternoon, they were doing a similar loop in reverse, except they were going through La Barge Box, definitely a more direct loop than ours. It got extremely cold the first night, our water froze and we started our second morning with what would be a trend for the first two days, thawing out our tents, recovering our gear, and huddling around the fire. For an additional side trip, if camped near the origins of Trap Canyon, a short walk down the canyon will take you to a ground level cave dwelling, with remnants of former walls and several grinding holes.

    Our day two was relatively short in miles, but very scenic, and cold. Hoolie Bacon and Red Tanks both seem to really meander along and drag out at points. The day was made interesting by a pretty good little snow storm in the early afternoon and a fun descent down Horse Ridge. There are opportunities for side-trips as well in this area, for example, one can check out the Lost Dutchman Mine Jr. which is located near intersection of Hoolie Bacon and JF Trail. However, we have never been overly impressed by this cave/maybe old mine so we just pushed on towards Indian Springs. There was no need to find an actual spring, however, we did find the old troughs and some piping. Indian Springs proved to be another really cold night, but lets be real we built a very large fire. We camped in a pretty well-established spot, in fact, someone's entire camp seemed to have been just abandoned in place there, but it was in a sad state.

    Day three we continued down Peter's Trail, took a GPS reading at Kane Spring and made our way towards Peter's Mesa, which begins with a pretty good climb. We ran into the same group from day before near Peter's Mesa, chatted a little and continued mission. We went off-trail around Peter's Mesa and dropped down into one of our favorite canyons to take a short-cut to camp at one of our favorite spots. The third night must have literally been 15 degrees warmer and we woke up to very warm temps on day four. It was kind of weird, after spending the first two nights in rather unfamiliar areas we kind of felt like we were already home, even though we were still in the Supers. Our hike out was pretty uneventful, just taking your standard well-traveled western Supes trails to Peralta TH. In fact, I finished in short sleeves and shorts, which was a far cry from my opening morning picture.
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Kyle and I got together for a quick hike out in the Supes. We started from Peralta and headed east on the Dutchman and continued east on the Coffee Flat Trail. The going was fairly easy and we made good time. We then connected onto the Red Tanks trail and our pace slowed as we navigated very heavy growth and lot of cat claw. The Red Tanks is one of my favorite hikes in the Supes even though it's a pain. I especially like the section next to La Barge.

    After a while we connected on the Whiskey Spring trail. Luckily the trail was in better condition and we made great time. We stopped to check out the spring and there was some water present. We dunked our bandanas and continued on to the Dutchman. The final piece of our hike returned us to Peralta. By this point we pretty much put our heads down and grinded out the last couple of miles.

    This was another great day in the Supes. We did not see anyone as soon as we left the trailhead. Kyle and I have good luck with this on most of our hikes! Hopefully more hikers get out to the Red Tanks trail which will help open up the trail.
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Had an awesome day out on the trails with Kyle! We covered some serious ground and only saw a few people. Most of this hike was new for me. Some of the sections are amazing & the views are spectacular! There were lot of good camp spots as well. I made mental notes for a future return. There was water along the hike but it was intermittent. I ended up pumping some at La Barge Spring. From there we made good time back to the car. It was a long day but well worth the effort!
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was a good long one! We made plans to do the Dripping Springs Super Loop but knew we wanted to extend it a little bit. We decided that all was to be decided on the trail. Our options for extension would be to take Red Tanks out to where it dead ends at the Dutchman and come back Bluff Springs at around 21 miles... or if we were feeling like supermen, we would take Red Tanks out to Dutchman and basically combine the loop with the Bluff Spring Mtn Loop and come back via the Terrapin and then Bluff Springs at a wopping 25 miles.

    As we hiked, I kept envisioning the horror of ascending up the Terrapin after already hiking 20 miles and was able to scare John into the shorter extension pretty quickly. Later when we eventually reached the trail head again, we were both happy to not have those four extra miles to go.

    As the the actual hike, it was fantastic. The temps were nice and warm but not uncomfortable warm-- just warm enough to really appreciate dipping a handkerchief or hat into any available cold pool of water. Upper LaBarge was the highlight as it usually is. We also made sure to point out caves and alcoves that Wally has probably already been in. :)

    Water along this loop in disappearing quickly. There's still filterable pools out there but I wouldn't trust them for long.
    Dripping Springs Super Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I had never before hiked the Red Tanks trail because of that I was looking forward to this hike. It started out as a beautiful day, cool with a bit of a breeze. Left the Peralta TH at 6:45AM. Made the hike in a clockwise direction. I wasn't disappointed about the Red Tanks trail. The scenery was great. The Red Tanks trail had the most wild flowers I have seen so far this year. I'd guess a good 2 dozen different varieties. I started off taking pictures of the flowers and finally figured out the hike would take more than one day if I continued. The trail is used so little that the flowers were growing through the trails in many places. Unfortunately the cacti also were trying to take over the trail. I got attacked by a cholla. I had lunch at what I expect was dripping springs, but I saw no water dripping.

    After lunch I was on Coffee Flats trail, came around a corner and almost stepped on a Gila Monster. After I backed up a couple steps he closed his mouth and seemed to calm down enough to allow some pictures to be taken. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. Maybe that is with the exception of the intense sun. The last few miles coming across Barkley Basin and the Dutchman were down right HOT with no shade.

    I didn't see another soul except in the parking lot.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To Peralta 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 1.9 miles to Peralta Trailhead.

    The trailhead has restrooms minus running water. The parking lot is huge. It does fill up in season on weekends. Since there are no lines the rangers ask that you park straight between the posts in the main lot. Please do your part with this simple request and make room for the next guy. 0.5 miles before reaching the trailhead is an overflow lot which is also suited for horse trailer parking.

    From PHX (Jct I-10 & AZ-51) 45.2 mi - about 1 hour 8 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 97.0 mi - about 2 hours 16 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 192 mi - about 3 hours 15 mins
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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