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Massacre Falls, AZ

no permit
2.4k 328 4
Guide 328 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.4 of 5 by 79
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,100 feet
Elevation Gain 1,120 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,187 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.44
Interest Seasonal Waterfall
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
7  2019-03-17
Reverse Flatiron
12  2019-03-09 KingLeonidas
2  2019-02-28
Reavis Falls Hike
15  2019-02-27
Canyon of the Waterfalls & Massacre Falls
29  2019-02-24 TheNaviG8R
6  2019-02-24 Andigirly11
11  2019-02-23
Falls Trails
13  2019-02-21 davidsnaz
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 24
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
16 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Flowers -n- Waterfalls
by joebartels

The road to the Massacre Trailhead has been eliminated. It has been plowed up, blocked and returned to the desert. Page stats have been updated to start from the Crosscut Trailhead. View the Official Route for details.

(from the old Massacre Trailhead) Walk through the fence from the parking area. The trail is wide and well defined. In season, wildflowers blanket the lower sections of this trail. Immediately to the left is small knoll with some small caves. The trail heads towards a mini needle then passes it on the east. The trail works up to a low saddle crossing a usually dry creek three times.

Next comes the subtle ascent to the falls. When the creek is running you can hear the falls in the distant. Otherwise be on the look out for the dark vertical stripe to the southeast. The stripe is one of the falls. From the low-lying saddle mentioned above to the falls is nothing difficult, however it can be a route-finding challenge. My best advice is to study the map. Two or three cairned routes get you to the falls and one takes you far away to West Boulder Canyon. Generally the most traveled route gets you to the falls as it's the most popular destination in this area.

My route of choice is the red line on the map. When you're hiking in you swear you are going wide to the east. Which it does "slightly" but not by much. The old dashed line trail on the map is cairned too. Both routes work and you probably won't know the difference on your first outing.

The trail goes through a tunnel of lush before delivering you to the east side of the Massacre Wall. Two falls pour over this wall. First encountered is the large waterfall on the east end. A short but steep canyon directly above the wall feeds this waterfall. It generally runs right after heavy rains. It pours off in a wide swath. This swath being the vertical stripe visible from distances far north into the wilderness. There is a nice spout on it's left which funnels water out from the wall. To the west is another waterfall. Although on the same wall it's fed by a different drainage. This drainage goes all the way up to the Superstition Ridgeline and is much wider. Although longer and wider it's not a solid rock surface. This waterfall flows upwards of a week after heavy rainfall by means of the sponge effect.

Trail data provided is for an out-n-back hike to the waterfalls. On the return, consider the short excursion up a small ramp style ridge, which I've dubbed the "Massacre Ramp". It's easy to spot heading back and away from the falls. There's nice 360-degree views from the top. There's also a sheer drop off. In fact, you're standing on an overhang if you're looking down. It kind of makes you take a step back when you look down, then notice there's no wall below.

Note #1: The actual "Massacre Grounds" aren't along this trail. Request for more information will not receive response.

Note #2: Hike summary was revised on 04/02/04

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2001-03-17 joebartels
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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 50 deeper Triplog Reviews
Massacre Falls
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Was lucky enough to hike up to see Massacre Falls flowing. There were other hikers on the trail but it wasn't crowded. Tread was pretty good considering yesterday's rain. First went up to Massacre Grounds just to see the sites, then backtracked to the falls trail. Falls were flowing at several gallons per minute. Fantastic!
Massacre Falls
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Planned to reach the "dry" Massacre Falls today, but did not have much in the tank after an aggressive 5 miles the day before. Plus, feeling like a cold is trying to infiltrate my body. Hard to call it a cold when its 110 outside for the high.

I had about 2 hours to work with which should have been plenty of time to make the falls and back. Instead, I turned around at 2.4 mile mark just as the trail drops into the creek that is fed by the falls. Completely dry of course on this day. Need some rain. Even the prickly pear are looking under the weather.

Arrived back at a still empty trailhead at 6:45am. The desert hikes are still gorgeous this time of year. People are missing out on some beautiful hiking weather. 65 degrees at the trail head today.
Massacre Falls
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Massacre Falls Loop
Hike 1 of 3 planned with Hazer and fellow Marine Mark Thurman of Tucson. We'd been talking about getting together since this summer. The last week of December turned out to be the right time.

Mark drove up this morning, so we settled on a shorter hike for today. This is Mark's first time in the Supes, so he wanted to explore around the NE side of the mountain during his short stay. For today he chose Massacre Falls and was hoping I knew of a way to loop in the Praying Hands. As a matter of fact I do, so that's what we did, starting from the crosscut trailhead at around 11:30.

We took the official route to the Falls with a tour around massacre ramp along the way. As we followed the trail, I pointed out several options for different hikes, including the reverse flatiron route, plus many of the landmarks in the area. After a brief stop at the falls, we started back the way we came. About a quarter mile into the return, you pass a large boulder with a cairn on top. At this point we headed (left) west and followed a cairned route towards the fins. If you lose the cairns, stay to the center right of the mesa and keep looking for them.

The cairned route drops you at the bottom of the fins. We headed up the hill to the first fin and followed the unnamed but well used path that takes you past the fins and back around to the praying hands. From there, it was an easy meander down the treasure loop trail to the crosscut trail then back to the trailhead.

We closed out the day with a burger and fries at the Bluebird Mine gift shop. Fun day. Nice meeting you Mark!
Massacre Falls
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On the trail at 4:42am. 48:30 from TH to falls. Took an 18 minute break then started back. 35:30 on the return. Best part was running into Mountain Man Jack at the trailhead. We chatted and told stories for awhile then it was off to work for me. Jack just smiled when I mentioned the words "going to work."
Massacre Falls
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Lately, because of eroding knees and ankles, my hiking has been limited to the foothills of the Superstitions. The trails are being visited more often by hikers that tend to leave their litter along the trails instead of packing it back with them, which means that I pick up and remove what I can pack out on my short hikes. When I return to my truck, I toss this "stuff" in the back and discard it when I get home.

On one hike, I found a badly worn straw hat that had suffered from rodent and sun damage... throw it in the back. On another trip along the First Water Road, I saw a plastic skull that was stuck on a fence post, I stopped and removed it and threw it in the back and it hit that old straw hat that was still back there, and suddenly I had an idea. The hat fit almost perfectly on the skull so I thought that before I threw everything away, I could take some photos of my "trash project"

So I assembled the stuff in my shop at home, a short length of Cholla skeleton appropriately served as a neck and mount for the skull, then an old woolly car wash mit made a hairpiece and finally the straw hat. A few adjustments here and there and I had my skull ready to photograph. As I was shooting the skull, I placed a "green screen" background so I could digitally cut out the skull and select an appropriate background to fit the occasion.

To finish up my photo, I selected a shot of the February full moon as it rose above a cloudy Superstition Mountain Ridgeline and a red "old film" burn around the edges to digitally blend into the background, add a famous Arizona quote and it's finished. Now I've become kinda attached to the skull and my wife says I should get some t-shirts printed... any ideas from HAZ members?
Massacre Falls
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Wendy was in town and I had no one to play with so she obliged. From a hike earlier in the week she had witnessed some big storms passing over the Supes so she got waterfalls on her mind. Well the Supes don't have a lot of accessible water falls for me except thru pics (i.e. Reavis Falls) so we went thru several alternate ideas before she chose this one. She didn't want to face the throngs of people on the trails so this fit her bill.
There wasn't a lot of beta on this hike but I put together all the other routes should we decide to deviate along the way. Let's just say the first third of the hike was amAZing and we had a great time on our way to Massacre Grounds. The middle third of the hike was certainly NOT a walk in the park let alone open desert. And the last third on the tributaries would have been fine if we hadn't just come thru the middle third :pout:

So we started from the Horse Lot and from the Dutchman Trail took the first turn west into First Water Tributary 2947 (maybe should have done that Loop). We were delighted to see water right away. And water most of the rest of the way until we left the Tributary. There were lots of bedrock areas too and of course the flora was putting on a show. I can't tell you how delightfully surprised we were to be hiking in this tributary. The Brittlebush on the hillsides was nice along with the various rock formations. And believe it or not, two gals happened to catch and pass us. They were the only folks we would see until we got to the Massacre Falls Trail and after Massacre Grounds to Dutchman Trail.

We took a short break in the shade by one of the many pools of water we had seen already. We were near the mouth of this canyon where the water dried up a bit and the going got a little tougher. We did see a trail go off to the left but it didn't seem like it was going the direction we wanted so we continued in the drainage for a while and we saw another trail go off to the left. I figured it was the horse trail as it would be hard for horses to walk up this tributary in places. We found the other side of that trail that headed west and decided since the drainage was being much more difficult we would use the trail. THAT was the right decision and I encourage others to do this instead of following the official route.

We slinked around and toward Massacre Falls trail and sure enough we saw quite a few more people here. We had lunch on top of the Grounds and enjoyed our view far and wide. There was a lot of gold in them thar hills too. Little did we know, this would be the end of our joy today. So we followed the trail toward Massacre Falls before we came to our left hand turn on what looked like a trail; it ended pretty abruptly. We contoured for awhile and were worried about cliffing out as we needed to get across a deep drainage. However, cliffing out would NOT have been an issue and we should have continued and then crossed more where the route did that we were following. Once we got across we had to go thru so much brush to get to a somewhat clearer area to hike.

I would say if you are going to follow the official route from Massacre Grounds, stick very close to it if you can; and that isn't easy but it does look a little clearer than what we did based on the satellite photo. A little ways later we hooked back on to the official route and pretty much stuck to it. We still hit many walls of trees, brush or cactus that we would have to wander a bit to find the path of least resistance. I felt like we were "wallyfracking" there for a bit. I don't know how he does that without wearing out much sooner.

All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't hot as this cross desert trek wasn't easy; especially when we had to push thru brush uphill : rambo : . And of course, it is snake season so Wendy managed to scare up two rattlers. One was rather docile and stayed under a bush while the other one we would find, just before dipping into a drainage, went on and on. It decided to slither down where we were going so we had a little detour.

Once into the drainage we took a much needed break. We wondered what open desert really meant because this didn't feel like it. Now mind you, I told Wendy I didn't think we'd be out more than 4 hours. It was now 3PM, we started a little after 8:30. Well it took us four hours just to top out at Massacre Grounds via the Tributary. OOPS! And we still have 4 miles to go with 3 of those miles thru these two drainages/tributaries. So off we went; rather glad to be in the tributary and out of the so-called open desert. The drainage/tributaries had its challenges too with all the water, the downclimbs, the filling up with bushes and such but it had its open times where you could breath normally for about 5 minutes.

This side didn't have as much water as the first tributary but there was one section where the pools were deep and big. Getting around them caused us to have to figure out the best route and sometimes we both would do it differently. I tried to film as much as possible but there was a lot of time the camera stayed tucked away. We finally arrived at the First Water Falls [ photo ] I had last been to with snakemarks back in 2009. It was dry and the little pool had very little water in it. I knew we would run into some catclaw as we made it back toward the Dutchman Trail but it wasn't too bad. And then as we got closer to the Dutchman we had to negotiate a lot more water so we veered right. Soon enough we finally hit the trail; it felt so good!

We ran into two snake hunters near the junction with First Water. They had seen gila monsters earlier in the day. We finally made it back to Tonto Jr and then went and had dinner on the patio at Mammoth SteakHouse. Thx to Wendy for leading us through that; it made it easier for me so I didn't have to think as much. For example, she said to me when we were in the middle of this trying to guesstimate where we needed to go further ahead, "See that saguaro out there"... I did; it was pretty far away. A little while later I asked Wendy, "where is that saguaro". She hesitated and I looked next to me and there it was ](*,) :lol: .

Yep, the Supes proved their might once again but once again, we survived, altho our bruised and punctured legs might beg otherwise. (We were wearing pants.) Film at 11.

4-28-2017 Enjoy!
Part 1 - Horse Lot to starting up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
Part 2 - hiking in the Tributary [ youtube video ]
Part 3 - yep, still going up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
Part 4 - finishing off the Tributary to the horse trail [ youtube video ]
Part 5 - up to Massacre Grounds and behind [ youtube video ]
Part 6 - back of Massacre to HooDoo Land [ youtube video ] and it twasn't easy
Part 7 - to Upper First Water Creek [ youtube video ]
Part 8 - First Water Creek hiking continued [ youtube video ]
Part 9 - finishing off the creek and back to the TH [ youtube video ]
Massacre Falls
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Thought we would check out the Falls, see what the wild flowers were doing :) Falls were running, not much, but enough to make it nice and cool beneath them. I'm sure that this won't last long. Glad we went :y: But Wild Flowers were a Dud :pout: Nice morning, but soon we'll need to be out early along with plenty of WATER !!!!
Massacre Falls
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I went out to the Crosscut/Massacre Trailhead on a rainy Sunday morning, contemplating the probability of hiking to the falls in a light rain but finally decided against it. Last year I made the trek in the rain and although I got some nice photos, it did cost me a scratched lens from a stone fleck on my lens cloth. :(

I arrived bright and early on Monday (Presidents Day) with only three other cars in the parking lot and hit the trail at 0630. The morning chill made me glad that I had worn my vest and the pre-dawn lighting was just enough to not need a flashlight to show the stumble stones on the trail. I made it to the saddle beside the pointy rock landmark and was surprised to see a tent just off the trail :o Then a bit further up the trail, I met a hiker already heading back to the trailhead :? After a casual greeting, we continued on our way and I took the opportunity to remove the vest as it was already warming up.

As I was approaching the "Wall", I could hear the running water in the wash leading from the falls and it sounded magical at this early hour, then the falls came into view for the first time and I could see that there was still a pretty good flow :D I met a couple heading back just as I was dropping down to the falls, another casual greeting and I had the whole area all to myself, just as the sun was beginning to light up the rock formations above the falls. Got off some shots for "focus stacking" and Panorama's just as five women arrived, all armed with cell phone cameras for "selfi's" with the falls for a backdrop.

Then a group of shirtless muscle-bound teens began to show off their ability to climb all the rocks below the falls as a group of noisy teen girls came on site. Unable to get any more shots of the falls without getting someone in the photo, I packed up my gear and headed back. It's a good thing I left when I did because the trail was now a steady stream of hikers heading uphill and the trail was turning into what resembled a muddy pit. When I got back to the trailhead, the parking lot was filled to overflowing and cars/trucks were parking along the road...Whew! It was a great day to be out but it sure was crowded.

A few Brittlebush blossoms are starting to come out and the occasional Mexican Poppy are poking up.
Massacre Falls
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After a relatively short hike on the Dutchman Trail we headed over to Massacre Falls. It was a weekend of heavy rain and we were hoping to see the falls gushing. We made the hike in and passed a variety of people. Several groups said we were in for a treat and we got excited. We continued on and the falls finally come into view and they’re gushing! We hiked all the way down to the falls and there were spectacular! We took a variety of pics from different angles and really enjoyed the waterfall. This was my fourth trip here and this is by far the most water I’ve seen. After we had our fill we started the hike out as a light rain began falling. We put our rain gear on and made the hike out. It was a wonderful day and I highly recommend seeing Massacre Falls after a heavy rain. It’s quite a sight!
Massacre Falls
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Tracey had to work and her daughter canceled a trip up to Sedona due to poor driving conditions expected (Camaro's don't do well on slick, snowy, icy roads) and she'd never been to Massacre Falls so add that to the overnight rains I figured there just had to be an actual falls. There was even snow on the Supes!

It was COLD leaving the TH so I threw on my rain-jacket and we set off on a pretty straight-forward hike. We took our time while adding in plenty of up & down side trips thrown in so it was very enjoyable. Not the best for photos but at least we got some of the falls with the snow above.

We were about to leave the falls when a hiker and her dog showed up and asked if we could use her phone to take here photo in front of the falls. We did her one better and told her it was dry enough to walk up right next to the falls so she took her dog up there and I took a few photos for her. We were a bit surprised not to see many hikers, encountering only two young couples on the return.

Permit $$

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

To Crosscut 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 0.6 miles to the large dirt parking lot which is the Crosscut Trailhead.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 41.1 mi - about 52 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 134 mi - about 2 hours 9 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 185 mi - about 2 hours 56 mins
1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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