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First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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mini location map2014-03-15
25 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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First Water TH to Canyon LakePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 15 2014
ddgrunning
Hiking7.90 Miles 1,533 AEG
Hiking7.90 Miles   4 Hrs   13 Mns   2.29 mph
1,533 ft AEG      46 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Been wanting to do this one for awhile. Although the kids had spring break all week, I had to work, but we decided to sneak in one family adventure on Saturday, and this was it! We got a little later start than I wanted (11 am) and I was worried that it would get pretty hot (forecast was for 84 degrees), but the weather turned out to be quite pleasant. We had a nice breeze on the latter half of the hike that helped keep the temp in check as well.

We set up the shuttle, by dropping off our "destination" car at the Canyon Lake Marina. In researching this hike, I wasn't sure if there was a charge to park there (there is not). Then, we headed back to the First Water TH in our other car. I thought the TH parking lot would be full, but we lucked out and there was a spot open when we arrived!

The first two miles of the hike up to Garden Valley were uneventful. We came across a train of horse riders and a few small groups of hikers. At Garden valley, the fork in the road that leads to Boulder Canyon vs. looping back around to Hackberry Spring is not signed, but we knew which direction we generally needed to head, so it wasn't an issue for us. (You can see the "fork" in the trail on the satellite view of the attached GPS route, at about the 1.8 mi. mark).

I loved the section exiting Garden Valley and descending into Second Water Canyon. A lot of diverse flora and interesting terrain.

We stopped for lunch at the Indian Paint Mine, about midway through the hike. A fun area, and the shade was a nice place to take a break.

As we headed out after lunch, the kids remarked that the hike had been pretty easy. I told them that the uphill section was yet to come and that's where they would "earn their ice cream." Luckily, the elevation gain came with breathtaking views--first of the classic 'Supes icons (Flatiron, Peaks 5024 & 5057, Weaver's Needle, Battleship, Geronimo Head) and then after cresting the divide, views of Canyon Lake and the surrounding areas. The outstanding scenery took almost all of the pain out of the climb (which wasn't actually that bad).

Just as we were approaching the final descent (approx. mi. 7), there is another fork in the trail. The most "direct" route to the trailhead was blocked off by a pile of rocks, but for no reason that I could divine. We decided to take the more circuitous route, and sure enough, it connected with the more direct route about .1 mile from the Canyon Lake TH (and was again blocked off by a row of rocks). [Compare my GPS track to the "official" HAZ route.] I don't know why they are apparently encouraging the more round-about route, but the next time I do this, I know which way I'll be taking ;)

We stopped by the Marina Cafe, but with ice cream at $2.25 a pop, we decided our sweet tooth could wait till we got back to Gilbert for a less expensive option :stop:

This was a great hike. We loved every step of it! Highly recommended (at least while the weather is still moderate).
Named place
Named place
Canyon Lake
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