First Water TH to Canyon Lake, AZ | HikeArizona
for free!
 This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Preferred" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

First Water TH to Canyon Lake, AZ

Guide 104 Triplogs  3 Topics
  3.7 of 5 
no permit
1.2k 104 3
tap icons for details
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
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Will recalculate on button tap!
3  2022-11-25
Palomino Mtn - Black Top Mesa - Battleship Mtn
37  2022-01-08 AzTEC
24  2021-12-20 AzTEC
18  2020-02-13 kingsnake
30  2020-01-25 LosDosSloFolks
30  2020-01-25 outdoor_lover
37  2020-01-25 tibber
9  2019-02-25
Lower First Water
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 2
Photos 1,591
Trips 81 map ( 435 miles )
Age 87 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Phoenix Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  7:23am - 5:55pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2020 Superstition Fire9.6k

Very diverse
by OhOh7

 Likely In-Season!
I only see parts of this hike in the index. It 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 miles 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 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 and 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 on 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 the 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 downhill 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 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 welcomely anticipating the ice water waiting for you and you save a few bucks on parking fees!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

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.

 Permit $$

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

end of page marker