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First Water TH to Canyon Lake, AZ

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969 97 3
Guide 97 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
Rated
3.8
3.8 of 5 by 33
 
7
Statistics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Shuttle 7.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,300 feet
Elevation Gain -609 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,589 feet
Avg Time Hiking 5.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.6
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2019-02-25
Lower First Water
markthurman53
8  2019-01-21
Boulder La Barge Hackberry Romp
survivordude
2  2018-07-29 Craigbhikin
10  2016-03-12
First Water TH to Canyon Lake TH
AZDane
3  2016-02-19 rtaylor3235
6  2016-02-15 Jenfarms
29  2016-01-19 desertgirl
6  2016-01-17 AZLumberjack
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 7
Author OhOh7
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 2
Photos 1,591
Trips 81 map ( 435 miles )
Age 83 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
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Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:08am - 6:34pm
Official Route
 
5 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Very diverse
by OhOh7

I only see parts of this hike in the index. It really involves 3 different trails and I want to put them together here as a great shuttle hike. It starts at First Water Trailhead going SE on the Dutchman's trail (104). After almost 0.3 mile there is a junction with Second Water Trail(236). In another mile and a half there is a junction with Black Mesa trail (also a great loop). Stay on Second Water trail as it crosses Garden Valley which, for a while as Joe B. puts it, is an "easy stroll". However, do not get too carried away with the calm, flat, wide trail. As you proceed East the trail begins to drop down into Second Water Spring. The trail gets somewhat steep here but still fairly easy. In my March hike there was lots of water and one could actually hear the water flowing.


I owe great thanks to Trish (Trishness) who, I found out during the hike, is famous as hikers passing us in the opposite direction said they knew of her photos and writings! Trish is a perfect hiking partner. However, she does move right along at a lively pace (for me anyway). Fortunately she loves the area flowers and stops to take many close-up photos. I hope she will share some of them. These stops gave me many moments of much needed rest. We had both conquered the Flatiron in the previous two weeks so anything ahead would be duck soup! Oh really? At the bottom of the Second Water Spring area (Boulder Canyon) the Second Water trail ends and one can go North or South on the Boulder Canyon Trail (103).

Of course we selected the North direction to take us to Canyon Lake. After wandering through the crossings of Boulder Creek and La Barge creek the trail begins to climb out of the canyon and the views are spectacular. This is why I say this hike is very diverse. From the Garden Valley easy slopes over the top north on Boulder Canyon trail is like night and day in the same hike. It seemed like we really climbed for 2 miles and maybe we did! This part of the hike is not "moderate" to me but with many periodic rests I was able to stay within view of Trish (Ok, she waited several times). The trail is very clear and quite easy to follow. Once we reached a top I could see Canyon Lake and thought we would simply drop down to the valley to the lake. An oncoming hiker with his dog even told me that it was "downhill all the way". His definition is different than mine. Much is down hill and along a side hill and then a final climb to the final top before the descent to the marina. The descent is a bit tricky with lots of loose rock but taking it slowly makes it comfortable. There are a few switchbacks and finally we come out on the Highway 88.

The distance is listed as 7.6 miles but I calculate it from the First Water Parking lot to a table with cold water in the Lakeside restaurant as 8 miles although we did take a few side jaunts on the way to see Indian ruins and the Indian Paint mine. The shuttle distance from First water to Canyon Lake is about 12 miles. I congratulated myself, as this was the first Superstition hike I have done in the time they say it can be done. This hike shows the rugged grandeur of the Superstitions. Battleship Mountain is enormous. There are many "Weaver's Needle" views and other imposing rock walls and towers. Midway through the hike everything around you is red (at the paint mine) and then you see black lava and grey stone. I am sharing my photos of this hike as the recent rains have made the entire area a carpet of green and flowers. My friends in other states are amazed that they think I live in a desert and cannot believe the growth.

Thank you Trish for your guidance and patience. One of the most enjoyable hikes I have been on. I highly recommend this one to even a casual hiker. The big climb is challenging but take it slowly and look behind you many times! The views are hard to believe! By the way, I think the direction we went is the best. I know one can start at Canyon Lake but that climb right at the start is tough. Also the views of Canyon Lake are welcome anticipating the ice water waiting for you and you save a few bucks parking fee!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2004-03-21 OhOh7
  • Map Map
    guide related
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 33 deeper Triplog Reviews
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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Did my annual (-1) hike over to the Dolly and back. The -1 means I missed doing it last year. Couldn't skip two years. Hit the trail at 7 am. Very cool but clear. Especially in the shade which was a good portion of the way over. Didn't see another person until a quarter of the way down that final hill into the marina. In that last mile there had to be at least 20 people. It still is a beautiful hike. Though that hill up second water was really hard on the way back. It seems to get taller and steeper each year.

Each year I have decided not to eat at the marina. But this year was different. All the way over I thought about having a late breakfast or an early lunch there. But when I arrived it was closed. In fact the sign was marked that it was closed every day of the week. Bummer! Don't know what's up. One of the people I talked to on the way back said they had eaten there Friday. Their web site is not showing them being closed.

There is a sign at the head of the trail at the marina end that says Second Water 2 3/4 miles. I don't see how they figure that. Even according to Google earth a direct line between those two spots is 2.61 miles. It's got to be about 4 miles. I wonder how many people have gotten into trouble on the trail by the inaccuracy of this sign.

I've never seen the Supes so dry. Except for the lake the only water I saw on the entire trip was a trickle coming down second water canyon. I suspect there's not going to be a very good wildflower season this year.
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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Chuck and I along with our faithful dog Jill met our hiking buddies from Venture Out (Mesa) for a crossover hike. We met at the junction of Hwy 88 and 1st Water Trail rd. - Good buddy Worth volunteered to shuttle our pickup to Canyon Lake and start his hike from there. We caught a ride to 1st water trailhead with Eddie and crew. The hikers were split into two groups of 13 and 14 each. One starting from 1st water and the other starting from Canyon Lake. Our goal was to meet for lunch and a key exchange somewhere near the Indian Paint Mine. We overshot this by a bit and met up with the Canyon Lake crew near LaBarge Creek where we enjoyed our lunch. We counted ourselves lucky the weather was so cooperative, providing a nice breeze when we were gaining elevation. We completed our trek to the Lake as it was starting to heat up. One VO hiker took a spill on a shaley downhill stretch; she was a trooper and was quickly back on the trail after a quick cleanup and application of wound bandage and several bandaids to hold it on her elbow. Thumbs up to all who assisted. This was an extraordinarily beautiful hike with several photo ops.

Wildflowers
Mexican Poppies, brittle bush, and a few other small wildflowers are just starting to show up
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Chuck and I along with our faithful dog Jill met our hiking buddies from Venture Out (Mesa) for a crossover hike. We met at the junction of Hwy 88 and 1st Water Trail rd. - Good buddy Worth volunteered to shuttle our pickup to Canyon Lake and start his hike from there. We caught a ride to 1st water trailhead with Eddie and crew. The hikers were split into two groups of 13 and 14 each. One starting from 1st water and the other starting from Canyon Lake. Our goal was to meet for lunch and a key exchange somewhere near the Indian Paint Mine. We overshot this by a bit and met up with the Canyon Lake crew near LaBarge Creek where we enjoyed our lunch. We counted ourselves lucky the weather was so cooperative, providing a nice breeze when we were gaining elevation. We completed our trek to the Lake as it was starting to heat up. One VO hiker took a spill on a shaley downhill stretch; she was a trooper and was quickly back on the trail after a quick cleanup and application of wound bandage and several bandaids to hold it on her elbow. Thumbs up to all who assisted. This was an extraordinarily beautiful hike with several photo ops.

Wildflowers
Mexican Poppies, brittle bush, and a few other small wildflowers are just starting to show up
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
The last 4 times I did this hike I made it a round trip. Okay with age catching up to me I decided this time it had to be a shuttle trip. I enlisted the company/help of Merlin and Mike. They had never done this, one of my favorite hikes. We could not have had a better day. Sometimes the wind was a bit over stated, but then it also kept us from feeling too warm. Bolder and La Barge were flowing fairly well. No wildlife other than one cotton tail. Ate too much at the all you can eat fish fry at the marina afterward. We saw no other hikers until the last mile.
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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Ambika wanted to hike and so did Susan so this is the hike they picked. A few of us are out of hiking shape so it seems just the right amount and you can't go wrong with ending up at the Marina restaurant as the ultimate goal :D . After much messaging, since this is a shuttle hike, those arrangements were made and I rounded up some folks from the north country to go with me and we all met at the 1st Water TH. We arrived at 8:40 from the North Valley and the others of the SE valley arrived around 9:15ish after shuttling from Canyon Lake.

We got started at 9:30 down the trail. I hadn't done a movie of this hike since Jan 2011 and that was with the old camera so I was busy movieing quite a bit of our trek. Once you head north the trail was definitely a little wet but dry after that. We stopped for a moment at Garden Valley which didn't look too muddy on the trail heading north. We continued east passing the stock tank that had a little water in it and hiked between the mesas on the rocky trail with Cochise Head in front of us.

I had forgotten that Second Water Canyon really has two sections, the desert like section from the top and the spring-like section with the water toward the bottom tier. Always a joy for us desert rats to see reeds growing next to the trail. Our snack break would be at the Junction with the 103 trail as it would be near the water... not only that, it would be running water and below the Battleship.

Who knew we would get to rock hop across Boulder Creek; it had double channels too. And then a stop at the Indian Paint Mine to marvel at the color of the rock and the structure itself before heading over the crosscut to LaBarge where we also encountered a nice amount of water. Before we headed up THE hill, I got out my trekking poles just to give me a little extra umph to get up the hill a little faster. It's a bit steep in parts but short. The temperature was relatively cool which was nice. We reached the saddle where the others were waiting.

We had one member of our hiking party who was having trouble (been there, done that & it's no fun but you'll always remember) so we waited for them to arrive. Jack wandered off to the other side of the saddle where you can look over and see both canyons plus you could hear the water clear up here :DANCE: . Not a bad place to hang out for a few minutes.

Five folks couldn't wait any longer so they headed on out while I hung back with the remaining group. It's always a good excuse to allow me to take extra pictures and video. Plus it was a lovely day. I eventually headed out on my own as did Ambika. She met me at the top where you have the wonderful views of the Four Peaks and Canyon Lake. Like Jack, I too could hear something from the marina.... margarita! ;) so off we went. The others decided to come straight off the top of the hill which come to find out is the official HAZ trail for the 103. I've always done the long switchbacks the last 5 years. Now mind you, there are rocks across the trail that goes NW as opposed to west from the top so I'm not sure what the story is.

Anyway, nice day, nice hike, nice folks to hike with, not too many others on the trail. My hip flexors weren't painful sore, just a tad achy. Yeah!

Videos as of 1-21-2016 (not using Youtube's stabilizer as much - waiting to hear reviews from folks that don't mind a little more bouncing around)
First Water to Second Water's Garden Valley https://youtu.be/lr ... bGgU
Garden Valley to Second Water Canyon https://youtu.be/HK ... oj9I
Second Water Canyon to Boulder Creek https://youtu.be/E5 ... On2s
Boulder Creek to La Barge Creek (apparently didn't load up this morning) 1-25-16 good thing though as I had to re-edit https://youtu.be/6m ... pAi8
La Barge to Canyon Lake in production as of 1-21-2016, finished 1-25-16 https://youtu.be/rF ... T0UA
Canyon Lake https://youtu.be/T8 ... bs2g
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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Thank you Tibber for organizing this trip. The weather was perfect. I never get tired of the Supes scenery. Just wish Wade and I lived closer so that we could enjoy this area more often. AZ Lumberjack's wife, Pat, came through again providing us a boost of energy mid-way through our hike with the best peanut butter cookies I ever eaten. I got to meet new people as our group of 10 people trekked across some beautiful canyons and creek crossings with plenty of water flowing. Loved listening to Jack's fountain of knowledge on the Supes. Had no problem climbing the big hill but had more issues on the long descent to Canyon Lake. Having never done this hike before, I did not know what to expect. The sights of the lake in the distance was so beautiful and inviting, but my feet were barking. I knew a Corona Light w/lime was in my very near future. Are we at the Marina yet?
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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Got a nice invite from Tibber to hike with a group on Sunday. New trail to me, so off we headed to the Supes.

Weather was great and not too many folks on the trail for a Sunday. Seriously love this area. Enjoyed getting some more info on the Supes from Jack along the way. Lots of water in all the drainages right now.

The Marina was a welcomed site. Was definitely time for a brew (or two) and a burger on the Marina balcony.

Was a pleasure to meet some new people in the group. Appreciated the shuttle arrangements as well. Good way to spend a day!
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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First Water Trailhead to Canyon Lake Marina


Sunday was a beautiful Arizona day with temps hovering around the low 70's and lots of sun, :D so what better way to spend the day than go on a Superstitions hike with some friends (9 of em to be exact). Our hike started at the busy First Water Trailhead a little after 9:00 heading for the Second Water Trail through Garden Valley and down the long rocky trail to Boulder Creek where we took a short break while listening the the water rushing over the rocks just below us. :DANCE:

From there it was past the Indian Paint Mine, cross LaBarge Creek and then up the dreaded steep, switchback hill for some awesome views of the Superstition Mountains behind us. Soon the scenic Canyon Lake came into view and the trail began dropping in elevation until we arrived at the Marina where we had pre-staged our return vehicles..... but first, lunch was in order and some cold refreshing drinks :D on the outdoor balcony above the shores of Canyon Lake as we celebrated the completion of the 8 mile, 5 hour hike.

It was a great day to share with some great friends, thanks everyone, lets do it again before the heat of the summer curtails the hiking. :y:

Wildflowers
Some small patches of wildflowers are appearing following the rains.
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Holiday today, so planned a hike with my new Hiking Partner and it worked out great, I'm sure we'll have many more. Decided to hike 1st Water to Canyon Lake in reverse. Met at 1st Water TH left a vehicle and off to Canyon Lake. Been awhile since I hiked this trail, the 1st mile did not disappoint me UP***UP :oplz: . Great hike messed around the Paint Mine for awhile and headed out. Didn't see anyone till we started up 2nd Water. Young Lady packing 32 lbs. was planning on staying out for a couple days ( Good for her ). I'd say let's do this hike again.
First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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This is a beautiful hike past Second Water and through part of Boulder Canyon Tr 103, especially now with all the flowers out. Our group did it as a key exchange, but you should be aware that the southerly route is about 600 feet more aeg than the north. Saw one rattler near the saddle just south of Canyon Lake. There is a great view of Battleship Mtn. and some great rock formations along the way. Ran into quite a few people near the trailheads but was pretty quite in the middle. This will be a hot hike in few weeks.

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Directions
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Info is below 'Directions to trail'

To First Water Trailhead
From Mesa follow Highway 60 East to Idaho Road. Turn North onto Idaho Road which is SR88 and follow North 2.2 miles. SR88 bends right just past Scenic St. and Idaho continues North. Be sure to go right and stay on SR88. Follow SR88 5.2 miles to the signed turnoff for First Water Trailhead, this is FR-78. Turn right on to FR-78 and follow 2.6 miles to the end.

This trailhead feature restrooms without running water. The large parking area fills up in season. When full utilize the Horse Lot 0.5 miles back.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 43.1 mi - about 59 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 136 mi - about 2 hours 16 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 187 mi - about 3 hours 3 mins
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