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Massacre Falls, AZ

Guide 351 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  3.4 of 5 
no permit
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2.6k 351 4
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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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14  2021-02-11
North side Supes Meander
20  2021-01-23 DarthStiller
27  2021-01-15
Massacre Grounds Praying Hands
33  2020-10-13 adilling
4  2020-10-07 AZLumberjack
10  2020-09-17 AZLumberjack
5  2020-03-20 jtaylor
44  2020-03-15 outdoor_lover
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 241
Routes 829
Photos 12,070
Trips 4,849 map ( 24,809 miles )
Age 51 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  5:16am - 7:39pm
Official Route
19 Alternative

Warning the 2019 Woodbury Fire & 2020 Sawtooth Fire damaged a majority of the Superstition Wilderness.
Flowers -n- Waterfalls
by joebartels

Massacre Falls hike heads east out of the Crosscut Trailhead. Use the Official Route for best results as the area changes over the years. It's 0.9-miles to the pre-2004 trailhead.

The old trailhead is seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with little trace of its existence. Walk through the fence, and the trail is wide and well defined. In season, wildflowers blanket the lower sections of this trail. Immediately to the left is a 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 distance. Otherwise, be on the lookout 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 challenging. 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 brings 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 its 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 broader. Although longer and wider, it's not a solid rock surface. This waterfall flows upwards of a week after heavy rainfall employing 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 are lovely 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 a response.

Note #2: Hike summary was revised on 04/02/04
2020-12-02 Guide updated to be less confusing about old access.

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
  • 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 $$

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
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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