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W Boulder Cyn to Willow Springs - 4 members in 5 triplogs have rated this an average 4.5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Mar 12 2022

 Guides 2
 Routes 20
 Photos 662
 Triplogs 32

 Joined Sep 19 2020
W Boulder Cyn to Willow SpringsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Mar 12 2022
ScottHikaTriplogs 32
Canyoneering13.00 Miles 3,500 AEG
Canyoneering13.00 Miles
3,500 ft AEG18 LBS Pack
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Tim and I headed to West Boulder the hard way from Carney Springs via Lost Goldmine trail. Noticed there haven’t been any triplogs since 2013. Curious what the fire did to the upper Canyon. We planned a loop of some kind, depending… Carlson said there’s no trail, Fritzski said there’s no trail, and there’s no trail, but what fun would that be? Have gone up to here from First Water, but never passed all the way through upper West Boulder Canyon from the south. Didn’t start super early, but since I’m retired I don’t always awake at the crack of dawn. We took a small side trip into Carney Canyon before heading up to West Boulder Saddle. There are still a few places I want to get to on Dacite Mesa, but that will have to wait for another day. Historically it is unlikely that anyone ever came from the QCU, up Carney and went through here on horseback. Probably some prospectors braved it on foot, I've seen it on old maps, but I believe that the upper West Boulder Canyon trail is a myth.

I wanted to ignore the recommend route shortcut and actually start from West Boulder origin, so that was that. Wildflowers are in bloom so spent a bit of time trying to capture some of them. I’m still working out the kinks in my new camera phone so they are generally blurry - live and learn. I took a few more pics than usual, so hopefully they are helpful. The weather was great and even seemed “warm” here and there, but not complaining. It was a beautiful clear day in the 70s. The upper channel was choked with a few large boulder traps, and non-technical scrambling. It was typical of any narrow overgrown canyon in the Superstitions without a trail. The fire appears to have fried both sides of the canyon but generally not at the center drainage. Cannot say it was better or worse than any other bouldering adventure. Earlier we had been skirting the channel above to the east and actually found a few random cairns. Not enough cairns to be trackable or coinciding with any trace of a trail, but they were the signs of people. After a while we decided to drop down into funsville and fight through the bush. About midway we found HUGE tracks in the center drainage. To be honest, I’ve never seen big cat prints this far west.

Tim and I have hiked many years together so time always passes too quickly. Kind of different to see all the scrub oak here. Reminded Tim of parts of California. Catclaw of course was alive and well. There are some easy areas especially where the bedrock pools clear out the brush. The water was stagnant in many places and we carried water. It definitely could be filtered especially where the lower pools were slightly flowing and clearer. The entire time I kept expecting to see some type of petroglyphs in the canyon walls. The patina is reminiscent of other nearby places but found nothing. We were making a zippy one mile an hour pace through the thickets and got to the corral in the afternoon. Tom Kollenborn says that this corral was built in the 1880s before the Barkleys ranched the area. It was apparently built before AZ statehood by Mexican laborers according to Gus. He also said that Barkley never used it for cattle due to the difficulty getting in and out of there. Spent a little time inside the rock corral poking around. Found a roll of barbed wire I haven’t seen before. Everybody agrees that it’s modern and not Ruth era, but that would really have been a find! The mystery is who would pack in barbed wire, certainly not the forest service. Either the age/date estimates area wrong, or this was put here for unknown reason after it was legal to do so. It’s heavy and would have been packed in from First Water. In his final letter to his family (6-14-31) Adolph Ruth said he built a wire shelf out of sticks for his supplies, but he didn’t say “barbed wire” and that would not have made sense for a supply shelf.

The stone corral area was not burned by fire, but there was evidence of burn all around it. We snacked on lunch and chatted about Adolph Ruth as we sat near the Spring. The cliffs are high so a nice cool resting place. Due to lateness in the day, we decided to cut the larger loop short and take the ridge over to Peralta 102. Mainly, we just stayed in the channel up to the pass and then over and bushwhacked down. It wasn’t awful. In fact I’d say the quickest southern route would be from Peralta TH, over Fremont Saddle and then over the ridge to the spring. Of course then you would miss all the fun in upper West Boulder. We arrived at the saddle as the sun was setting, and cruised back to LGM another successful adventure in the books.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
It is wildflower season so many flowering plants and identified in the photo section.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Boulder Creek Origin - Ridgeline Route Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Willow Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout
1 archive
Nov 05 2013

 Routes 1
 Photos 1,104
 Triplogs 223

56 male
 Joined Jan 07 2012
W Boulder Cyn to Willow SpringsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Nov 05 2013
vanmanTriplogs 223
Canyoneering11.70 Miles 3,191 AEG
Canyoneering11.70 Miles   8 Hrs      1.67 mph
3,191 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break16 LBS Pack
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
A - Dry or little water; shallow or avoidable water; no wet/dry suit
III - Normally requires most of a day
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Mike and I had talked about checking out Willow Springs since last year and today we finally made the trek. We started at Lost Goldmine since we planned to come out on Peralta. We headed up Carney, went over the saddle and down the other side to the creek bed. We made pretty good time since there was very little water and things weren't too overgrown. Down near the bottom we realized it was going to be tough bushwacking and that's when we started seeing numerous white dots on the eastern bank. We followed those until the creek opened up again and back down we went. It was really cool hiking down there with 5057 visible most of the way.

Once at the spring we took a lunch break and then headed off-trail up the eastern slope to a saddle on the ridge. Cresting that saddle, we had a great view of Weavers. We enjoyed the view for a few minutes, then headed to a lower saddle that we knew was above Peralta. We made it down to Peralta and back out to the car.

This was a fun hike, but it was longer and tougher than I expected! The views were great and the remoteness of the spring makes it very enjoyable!
Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Corral

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Hard to say exactly the flow rate, but there was a big pool at the spring with a small outflow connecting to a couple smaller, lower pools. The lower pools were very clear.
Dec 03 2009

 Routes 1
 Photos 296
 Triplogs 40

47 male
 Joined Jan 06 2007
 Mesa, AZ
W Boulder Cyn to Willow SpringsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 03 2009
jostreamTriplogs 40
Hiking7.40 Miles 1,370 AEG
Hiking7.40 Miles   6 Hrs   5 Mns   1.22 mph
1,370 ft AEG
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This hike was torture on my arms and legs, but it was very enjoyable. I took a sick day from work and I've got two giveaways of my little white lie. 1. My car is covered in dust, and 2, my arms look like I've been wrestling with a cat. But all in all, this was totally worth it.

For a birthday present, I was given Carlson's Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness. I read it cover to cover and it got me feeling like I needed to view the history of the Supes, not just use the mountains for enjoyment. It was a similar feeling to when I was able to read about the Battle of Gettysburg, and then get a chance the next day to tour the battlefield.

Adolph Ruth was mentioned several times through the book and he ended up being shot and killed back in the Supes. I figured it would be a good idea to check out his old camp. The route from West Boulder Canyon looked more interesting than the route from First Water. The First Water route is rated a 4 here and the West Boulder Canyon route a 5.

I got to Carney Springs about 7:30 and headed up the trail. It didn't take long for me to shed my coat and fully drench my T-Shirt with sweat. I got to W. Boulder Saddle and scoped out a place to head down. My intentions were to hike along the Ridgeline trail a while then descend down the second side canyon into the main, but I didn't. I saw the first cairn off to the side and down I went. Heading down was actually kind of fun. There are spots of severe bushwhacking, but over all it wasn't too bad. You get used to being clawed at and having stuff fall in between your backpack and your neck. It is all part of the enjoyment.

After a mile or so, you have to head to the high ground. There were parts that were overly cairned, spray painted, and ribbon marked for my taste. I really didn't see the point. There is only 1 canyon and there is no way to get through the stuff down there, so that leaves only 1 option. Head high and go around it. Getting lost would be impossible so using that many markers was overkill to say the least.

After heading around, you descend back into the canyon. This is where it gets fun. There are spots of smooth granite floors, spots with large boulders, spots where you have to scoot low under some trees, and spots that would present very cool water falls. For my trip, there was no water along the entire path. It was very fast going once I got down there.

I reached the Willow Springs around 11 which put my travel time from the car at roughly 3 and a half hours. I ate my leftover pizza and polished off a bottle of gatorade. I filtered water out of the spring to refill my bladder and headed off to find the corral.

The things to look for are the trees. They are too neat and too out of place. I didn't even realize I walked through the gate of the corral until I was already in it. I can imagine with a little attention, this would have been a decent place to hang out. There is plenty of shade, an ever running spring, and seclusion.

I headed back and made good time. I kept getting drawn into the canyon where I should have stayed high, but oh well. It made for some interesting tracks and track backs.

I got back to the car just before 3, which put my hike time back right around 3 hours.

I'm planning on a Battleship hike in January, but I hope to get another history lesson before then. Maybe something around Bluff Spring....
Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Pioneer Industry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
There was flowing water with plenty in available pools.
Jan 27 2007

 Guides 7
 Routes 57
 Photos 1,107
 Triplogs 64

74 male
 Joined Jan 07 2004
 Tempe, AZ
W Boulder Cyn to Willow SpringsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 27 2007
kanodeTriplogs 64
Hiking10.00 Miles 1,370 AEG
Hiking10.00 Miles   11 Hrs      0.91 mph
1,370 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We followed Fritzski's description of his way out which appears to match the West Boulder Trail route on the topo maps. We did not encounter any heavy bushwhacking since we did not drop directly from the Ridgeline trail into West Boulder creek.

The southern end of the West Boulder trail route involved light bushwhacking, then there were a couple short sections of moderate bushwhacking (maybe a quarter mile total). This was at a time when there was no flowing water. Flowing water would make the trip much more difficult

The 11 hour round trip included about an hour of cairn building and a half hour search for a lost camera.

We left the Ridgeline trail at:
N 33° 24' 32" W 111 22' 30"
and headed due North and down to the small creekbed that parallels the Ridgeline trail and then up to the saddle at:
N 33° 24' 36" W 111° 22' 32"

From the point we crossed the above small creekbed, our GPS track was a close match to the West Boulder trail route shown on the topo maps.

We dropped straight down to another small creek bed and then headed west. Most of the time we were on the north bank but sometimes in the creekbed.

We soon ran into lots of cairns on the north bank. At times, 3 cairns could be seen at once. There wasn't a trail but it was easy to pick a route from one cairn to the next. They were usually 10 to 50' feet above the creekbed on the north or east side and tended to follow the contour lines. The cairns lead you west to the junction with West Boulder creek and stay above it to the east.

We lost the cairns at one point as another creekbed came in from the East. We backtracked 50' and spotted the cairns continuing across this creek but somewhat to the West. We had to head west in this new creekbed for maybe 100' and then climb out.

Eventually the cairns drop you into the eastern channel of West Boulder creek. There is a short section where moderate bushwhacking is required but the creek bed soon opens up with a wide vegetation free channel with boulders or solid rock the rest of the way to Willow Springs. This starts about:
N 33° 25' 12.5" W 111 23' 06.3"
It only took an hour to get from this point to Willow Springs

Route finding was easier on the way to Willow Spring than the way back--even though we had our outgoing GPS track to help.

Thanks to whoever did a lot of work building cairns!
Nov 30 2001

 Photos 15
 Triplogs 36

52 male
 Joined Apr 11 2002
 Gilbert, AZ
W Boulder Cyn to Willow SpringsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 30 2001
chihiggsTriplogs 36
Hiking7.40 Miles 1,370 AEG
Hiking7.40 Miles
1,370 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Very scenic. This is a returner.
average hiking speed 1.27 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.


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