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Hackberry Spring Loop
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mini location map2014-11-17
13 by photographer avatarAZLumberjack
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Hackberry Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 17 2014
Hiking7.30 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking7.30 Miles   5 Hrs   40 Mns   1.99 mph
700 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Kelly's been buggin me for some time now for a hike that includes;
1. The old Barkley 1st Water Corral,
2. Hackberry Spring,
3. The Arch in Garden Valley.

Kelly has hiked the Superstitions many times including multiple trips through Garden Valley, but always just passing through on her way to Canyon Lake, Battleship Mtn, LaBarge Box or other destinations. Never really taking the time to explore the areas completely.

Kelly's best day off would be Monday so I put this planned hike together that included her wishlist with a few additional stopoffs along the way. We were also joined by Mike (Minermike) and Preston (Kingsnake) to round out our hiking group.

We met at the Horse lot on First Water Road on a chilly (I had 39 degrees at my AJ home) morning for an 0830 departure time. After lacing up the boots, resetting the GPS's (I fired up HAZ Tracks on my Galaxy S4 for comparison) and slipping into our backpacks, it was on the way to the old tin covered corral along First Water Creek.

As we descended the old road, it always amazes me that trucks hauled loads of cattle up and down this bumpy, rutted road to and from the corral site. The corral was unusually clean on this trip so it showed itself off nicely for Kelly's first visit. We checked the place out and I think she wanted to climb the old windmill tower, but settled for a snapshot :D Then it was down the trail to the creek.

First Water Creek had a pretty good flow between the deep cold pools and the sounds of running water is always magical in the desert. We followed the creek down through the narrow canyon then investigated a scenic side canyon that's an alternate route from the Horse lot. As we boulder-hopped our way through the narrow gorge, I pointed out a small natural cave along the West side, the balancing boulder way up on the top of the cliff and a Catsclaw bush growing out of a large boulder in the center of the wash.

We checked out the flow of water coming out of the pipe at Hackberry Spring and the pool behind was full of clear, cold water but no frogs on this trip. Then it was on down following First Water Creek through the lush green campground areas. The Cottonwood trees in the flowage are slowly turning from summer green to autumn gold for a nice appearance against Little Four Peaks in the background.

As we began climbing towards the saddle leading to Garden Valley, I pointed out the tailings from an old mining adit on the West side of Hackberry Mesa. We all decided that it would be a fun sidetrip so I located the seldom used trail leading to the old prospect, soon we were standing in front of a partially covered entrance.

It was necessary to crawl into the opening, but once inside you could stand upright (unless you're as tall as Mike) so we used what lights we brought and explored the tunnel all the way to the end. We didn't encounter any animals, snakes, tarantulas or bats and found no signs of an 18-inch wide gold streak to indicate that we had finally uncovered the mystery of the "Lost Dutchman's Mine" :( From here we made the final ascent to Garden Valley.

I brought the group around the front of the large rock outcropping that has a small but deep hole that could have been use by early occupants of the area for firing the pottery and showed them several well used Matate's in the bedrock. Then it was around to the backside of this rock to reveal the Arch high above us. We followed the seldom used trails leading up to the arch where Kelly and Preston ascended to check it out up close. The arch appears to be extremely fragile from this viewing angle so any visitors should be cautioned unless you want to be forever known as the person that destroyed the Garden Valley Arch :doh:

We had lunch at the old ruins site by the trail sign in Garden Valley and as we sat on the rocks, we were able to find many pottery sherds lying in the dust at our feet. We had met only a few other hikers on the trails on this day so we had the peace and quiet all to ourselves as we discussed everything that we had seen and done so far.

On the way back to the First Water Trailhead, we made one more sidetrip to a little known "Mini Arch" hidden a short distance off Second Water Trail. This arch is also very fragile and would crumble if someone attempted to climb on it so it's being kept as our secret place [-(

Before calling it a day, Kelly had promised to buy us guys a beer at the Bluebird Mining Store and I was holding her to her promise. We sat around a table under the overhang and listened to some tall tales about the "Good ol Days" by Louis Ruiz. He was telling us about the time Elvis and "The Duke" came driving up in a Pink Caddy :o The Bluebird is my favorite after-hiking watering hole and there's always an interesting topic being discussed between Louis, Tom Kollenborn and the frequent Cowboys that stop in after a long trail ride.

Thanks to Kelly for suggesting this and Mike and Preston for coming along, it was another perfect day to get out in the Superstitions :y:
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
Some of the Cottonwoods in the First Water Wash are beginning to change to Autumn Yellow.

dry First Water Creek at Second Water Trail #236 Dry Dry
Bone Dry, not even pools.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Hackberry Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
There's a large pool in the wash in front of the spring.
On every trip into the Superstitions, I find another Gold Mine. Today the mine was filled with Memories. I can not wait for the next trip.
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