Interior View of Superstitions
This hike is described in great detail in Carlson's "Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness" under trip #41.
This hike started off being an 8.2 mile loop but quickly expanded to 14.4 miles when we saw FSR 213. While the four of us, (Carolyn, Paul and Jim), were in a 4x4 Tahoe, there was no way it was getting up that road without leaving some key automotive components behind. I don't think a Hummer could get up that road. You'd have to have one seriously jacked up vehicle to clear the rocks at the start of this "road". Walking the road added 3.1 miles to each end of the hike and took an hour each way, but was actually quite pretty.
The FSR eventually dumps you onto an unsigned trail that leads up a hill to a gate. Approximately 1/2 mile past the gate you come to the signed intersection of the Hoolie Bacon & JF Trails. After you follow the Hoolie Bacon Trail south across a couple of creek crossings it begins a gradual climb up to the top of Horse Ridge. From this saddle you are treated to excellent views of the surrounding Superstitions. Figuring most prominently is Miners Needle to the south.
Coming down from the saddle one heads across Horse Basin until intersecting a wash at the bottom. This is where the fun really starts. From this junction, one back tracks sharply to your right towards a low point on the ridge. Now in Carlson's book, they recommend heading up the wash to the top of the ridge before heading west to the saddle as this route has less cat claw, but I'm not so sure. We ground it out up the wash which in spots was very overgrown. (NOTE: A great strategy for bushwhacking is to send a big Irishman, (that would be Jimmy), into the thicktes first so as to widen the path.) Once we got as far as the "H" in "Horse Camp" on the topo, we had had enough of the creek and elected to head due west up the ridge. This proved to be much easier going. Once you reach the saddle you can look down into the flat plain between Horse Ridge and Tortilla Mountain where Peters Trail lies. After heading down this ridge and across yet another wash we stumbled across Peters Trail for the trip back to Tortilla Well. This is the prettiest part of the hike as the trail winds down a narrow canyon to Kane and Indian Spring. The views on the way down are spectacular and I really recommend doing the loop in a clockwise fashion for this reason. After passing Indian Spring, (dry), you cross Tortill Creek several times before exiting a narrow slot canyon just before the trailhead. The actual 8.2 mile loop from trailhead to trailhead took us 3 1/2 hours with just a brief break for lunch. Overall, the trip was 14.4 miles and 5 1/2 hours to and from the Apache Trail.
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.
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.