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Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
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mini location map2010-12-26
5 by photographer avatarRaRoc
photographer avatar
 
Hidden Valley Loop - SuperstitionsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 26 2010
RaRoc
Hiking16.14 Miles 3,412 AEG
Hiking16.14 Miles   13 Hrs   30 Mns   1.20 mph
3,412 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Tough_Boots
I started hiking in earnest about a year ago, and followed a pretty standard curve. You ease in slowly, three-five miles in South Mountain, and gradually, you get longer and steeper. Once I started looking for 19 mile day hikes, I decided it was time for me to pull on my big-girl pants and head off-trail. With a couple of brief bushwhacking excursions under my belt, Kyle and I decided to check out Hidden Valley.

We started off at the Peralta TH and headed up Ely-Anderson. En route we encountered some mule deer alongside nice views of Weaver's Needle and other notable formations. The trail isn't particularly well-maintained but it was easy to follow in the daylight (this will become relevant later, I promise). As the trail dissipated we headed into Hidden Valley, which is absolutely beautiful. The creek was flowing surprisingly well for this season, and the whole route was sort of a slide show of perfect Sonoran scenery. The most spectacular view, of course, came at the end of the canyon, where we discovered a breathtaking drop right between us and the trail we wanted to connect to.

Yes, we should have read the topo map better. It's a learning curve. A learning curve that forced my geologist father to hang his head in shame this morning over relieved coffee. I know better now. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR TOPO MAP. Rookie mistake. But, having been foolish, we had to figure out a game plan. It was about 2:30 p.m., and we knew we'd never make it back to the trail the way we'd come before nightfall. We weren't keen on bouldering after dark, not to mention playing connect-the-cairns on Ely-Anderson. Looking at the GPS, we decided we could probably climb out of the canyon to the ridge line and find a safer descent to the trail.

At the top of the valley, after a few failed attempts that evoked images of broken legs and helicopter blades, we managed to find an incline we thought we could stomach. The going here was steep, the soil loose, the route thick with manzanita and cats claw, and generally, in the dwindling light, I was worried. I am eternally grateful to Kyle for keeping his cool, even while belly crawling through woody thorns at dusk. We made it out eventually, and hit the Dutchman trail just at nightfall. The sky was moonless (unfortunate), but the stars were transcendant.

So, in summation: Hidden Valley is gorgeous. Do it as an in-out and start early. And, just in case there are any other idiots like me reading, always check your topo map!
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