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Garden Valley - Hackberry Loop
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mini location map2020-01-18
34 by photographer avatartibber
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Garden Valley - Hackberry LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 18 2020
Hiking5.84 Miles 641 AEG
Hiking5.84 Miles   2 Hrs   54 Mns   2.07 mph
641 ft AEG      5 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
What to do, what to do. Then Ambika called as she just realized it was a 3 day weekend. I had two choices in mind and we went with this one as I was going to go to cousin Connie's later and then Ambika decided we should have lunch with Trish as well. So after meeting up at Q-T off of Idaho, we headed via the lumpy road to the Horse Lot at First Water. However, we would discover that there was plenty of parking at First Water even at 9:30 in the AM. I was quite surprised by that.

Anyway, we geared up and took the connector trail to the main TH. It was a bit nippy with the wind blowing but once we headed on down the trail, it seemed to subside so we took off our vests. This first part of the trail is so pretty. We encountered a few hikers here both coming and going. At First Water Creek there were still a few pools of water and it was running. At the second creek crossing there was also quite a bit of water before you head up the hill to Garden Valley. The trail previous to the creek was very hard. The backlighting made the grasses real pretty.

We encountered a few backpackers as we started heading north. One of them commented about it being chilly; Thus validating my decision not to backpack with ABC this weekend. As you approach the top of the hill to Garden Valley there are now stone steps including some cobblestone :o . Oh my, what is our western Superstition Wilderness coming to? I'm sure it helps mostly for the downside and erosion. They were nicely done.

We looked toward the arch further north as we headed east to the heart of the Valley. The scenery is very nice thru here and as you turn north again. We did come upon the muddy section that was still somewhat muddy but it was easy to go around. I've been up here when that wasn't the case. The horses make pot holes through this. As we reached the furthest side of the valley the scenery is more intense with the lichen covered rockery and it's more brushy and cactusey. Speaking of saguaros, fat and sassy they seem to be. We didn't see any hikers during our hike through the Valley. The view to the beautiful little Four Peaks at the top of the hill makes for some awesome pictures. :)

And then down the hill we went. There has been some trail adjustment since I was last here in Dec 2016, ironically with Ambika. We encountered a few hikers and their dogs here but no one else until we passed a campsite down at First Water. The view to the Mazzies and the Four Peaks are the eye catchers on this trek down to First Water. We could smell the campfire smoke as we approached and wondered how well the fires would be put out down here.

We found a couple places to get down to the creek which still had quite a few big pools and lots of running water; always fun to enjoy the look and sound. And that big boulder that stands up in the middle of the creek still impresses me. As we got closer to Hackberry Spring we encountered some horseback riders. The horses were none too keen on crossing this part of the rocky/watery creek and it was a tad slippery for them.

And from here on out, there were a lot more people. We continued up the creek toward the ranch still encountering a lot of water considering how long it had been since our last rain. A couple of those drainages between the slabs had to be pretty full and hard to traverse a couple weeks ago. We still had to skirt pretty high in one section. But it was pretty awesome nonetheless. We passed by the ranch, sorry to see that the windmill's top is no longer attached.

As we approached the Horselot a small gaggle of girls asked us what was best to do that would be a short hike. So we suggested they take the connector trail to the main TH and then start heading down the trail and just go so far for an hour or so and come back. (Hopefully they would remember which way was back). Makes you wonder how many other people just come out here with no idea and wing it. Hope they had fun.

First Water to north Garden Valley [ youtube video ]
Garden Valley to Hackberry Spring [ youtube video ]
Hackberry Spring area to ranch road [ youtube video ]
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For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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