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Hidden Valley Loop - Superstitions
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Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack Feb 05 2011
Backpack14.22 Miles 4,056 AEG
Backpack14.22 Miles2 Days         
4,056 ft AEG
1st trip
Wow!!! Hidden Valley and Bluff Springs Mountain are spectacular! We did this as an overnight backpack so that we'd have some time to explore. I recommend that one should actually do it as a two-day backpack to have time to see everything and not have to rush.

We left Tucson about 6:30 Saturday morning to give us a chance to get camp set up in Hidden Valley and still have time to do some exploring. We took the Bluff Springs trail to teh Crystal Springs area. From there, I wanted to see if we could find Bluff Spring - I had a waypoint but had not read anything about where it was located. We looked around the hillside for a bit before admitting defeat and contouring over to catch the Ely-Anderson trail up onto Bluff Springs Mountain. The Ely-Anderson trail is very easy to follow. There are cairns marking the way every few feet.

We headed over to the high points that are on the east side of the Mountain when the Ely-Anderson trail peters off. From there you can get a great view of Hidden Valley down below. We took off a bit further east and then dropped down into the drainage. On our way down the hillside, we found benchmark that had been placed in 1919. Not too far from the benchmark, I found a helium balloon which is one of my biggest pet peeves - "Hello, people, they don't go to heaven or space, they go to the backcountry and I don't want them there!!!!" I think Helium balloons should be banned.

We followed the drainage - which wasn't always an easy task since it was filled with vegetation including my favorite "Cat Claw". We found the first of the two campsites described in the Description of this hike. The metal frame of the chair was still there. We decided to continue on to check out the second campsite. We decided to stay at the second campsite. We had four tents to accomodate - there were close quarters but it was doable for one night. I wouldn't recommend more than four tents at either of the campsites. There wasn't any flowing water in the creekbed - but there was decent water for filtering (thanks to the rain earlier in the week).

After we had camp set up we headed down stream. We knew the big pools and waterfall were between .5 - 1 mile downstream. Three of us had been there on a backpack over NY when we bushwacked up from Marsh Valley. We got about half way to the pools when we started to encounter some larger drop-downs. After carrying our heavy packs about 6.5 miles already that day, we decided to take it easy and just turn back to camp. We knew that the water was probably not flowing so we wouldn't have been able to see the water falling over the edge.

When we got to camp Catherine and I decided to go up to the top of one of the ridges to get a view down into La Barge Canyon. We got up there and found two sticks with metal tags attached - I'm wondering if they are mining claims or just some hiker's weird way of marking where he had been. The views were great! We looked back into the Valley and plotted our route out.

The next morning we got up and decided to go the way we thought looked good. We wanted to hit the summit of Bluff Springs Mountain. We headed up a drain that departs from above the first camp we saw. The going was pretty good. We got to the ridge and we saw a great view of Weaver's Needle. We followed the ridge from there over to Bluff Springs Mountain. Even though the topo showed what looked like a nice ridge walk to the summit we were happy to find it was something even better. Some rock scrambing! It was fun even with our backpacks on. As we neared the summit, we had to drop down off the ridge for a little bit due to large drop-offs. It was easy to get around them from below about 30 feet. Almost below the summit, I spied a small alcove in which someone had spent the night. It even had a tiny window out the back. While I was checking out the alcove, the others were walking across the top of it so I decided to tell them they were walking on air!

Bluff Spring Mountain summit has awesome views. You can see Weaver's Needle, Palomino, Black Mesa, Black Top Mesa, Battleship, Canyon Lake, Four Peaks, and more. In every direction there is something to see. We took a break and signed the register. Then we decided we head back to the Ely-Anderson trail and head home. We had Mexican food on the mind (Florence) and the Super Bowl to watch at home.

Bluff Spring Mountain and Hidden Valley is definitely a place I will return!

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