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Massacre Arch via First Water Trailhead, AZ
mini location map2022-02-19
25 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Massacre Arch via First Water Trailhead, AZ 
Massacre Arch via First Water Trailhead, AZ
 
Hiking10.12 Miles 1,875 AEG
Hiking10.12 Miles   8 Hrs   9 Mns   1.74 mph
1,875 ft AEG   2 Hrs   21 Mns Break
1st trip
With @TBoneKathy still recovering from a minor leg injury, we headed back to the Superstitions for another relatively short, easy hike. We decided on Massacre Falls Loop from First Water Trailhead, but instead of battling the crowds at the waterfall, our main destination was an off-loop hike over to Massacre Arch/Boulder.

First Water TH was busy when we arrived just after sunrise, but not as bad as I was expecting on a Saturday morning at the start of a long weekend. There was still some trickling water and pools in a few of the drainages and creek beds, but it's been drying out over the past few weeks. We left Dutchman ~1.5 miles into the hike and started following the creek bed and drainages toward Massacre Grounds. The bushwhacking wasn't too bad--I had the clippers out occasionally, trimming catclaw and branches out of the way, but it could have been a lot worse.

After leaving the drainage and clearing the pass, we paused for a break before connecting with the Massacre Falls trail, where we encountered the expected swarm of hikers. We passed on the falls and hiked north before leaving the trail to head toward the arch. That was the slowest part of the day, with thicker brush to contend with until we connected with the social trail and made our way up.

Getting up to the arch required another round of bushwhacking...with her leg still recovering, @TBoneKathy waited below while I headed up. I chose a less-than-ideal route and ended up trying to push through a wall of brush and bees before retreating and choosing a less contentious approach :). I wasn't sure if the pictures I'd seen of the arch and the balancing rock were zoomed-in shots taken from a distance, but I was pleased to see that it was easy to access the arch and go inside.

It ended up being a really nice spot--the arch was more like a short tunnel, and looking through it, the spires around Praying Hands are framed nicely directly below the balancing rock. It's a very scenic area, full of spires, hoodoos, and all kinds of weird rock formations--the views were well worth the scratches and bloodshed earned on the way up :).

[ youtube video ]

I eventually headed back down, and rather than bushwhacking back to the Massacre Falls trail and finishing the route for Massacre Falls Loop, we hiked to Crosscut TH and followed the road back to First Water. Not a lot of miles today, but the weather was fantastic, we explored some new off-trail areas, and the arch and balancing rock exceeded expectations.
 Geology
 Geology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Natural Arch
 Meteorology
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Moon
 
HAZ Member
John10s'
128 Photosets

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