This past Saturday, I set out for what i thought would be a mild, five-mile journey along the south rim of Barks Canyon, in the Superstition Wilderness, east of Metro Phoenix.
A gaze at the map board, near Peralta Trailhead, however, showed this would mean a three-mile bushwhack, through prime rattlesnake turf. Since that is being penny-wise, and oh so pound-foolish, I opted to go on down Peralta Canyon, letting the chips fall where they may. Did they ever. This day became as full, demanding and glorious as the Longest Day trek last June, along Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.
This central part of the Superstition Mountains has an iconic centerpiece: Weaver’s Needle, a rhyolite and sandstone wonder that seems to sit by itself, between Peralta, Barks, Needle and East Boulder Canyons. It kept me in its sights, most of the day.
The Superstitions draw people from all over, much as do Grand Canyon and Sedona. There are two major facets, which I will show in the next two posts: The largely rhyolite (volcanic) formations which dominate the landscape and the wildflowers, which explode this time of year. (Peak flower time is later this month, but we enjoy what we can, when we can.)
I started out in the overflow parking lot, 1/4 mile from Peralta Trailhead. The canyon actually gets its start here, with rising buttes to the west.
The trailhead itself, as I mentioned earlier, is fully informative. The information it gave me about the way ahead offered two choices- See Weaver’s Needle from a variety of vantage points and make a full day the marvelous existing trails, or stop at Fremont Saddle and head back. I opted for the former, and ended up with 17 miles under my feet, at day’s end.
Here are some of the features of the trailhead itself:
The sign on the right seems to be well-read. I saw none of the above along any of the trails.
Peralta Canyon Trail takes the hiker up to Fremont Saddle, then down along East Boulder Canyon (which is actually west of Weaver’s Needle). It ends at Black Top Mesa, where the eastbound Dutchmans Trail takes over. One may follow Dutchmans, named for a gold prospector named Jacob Waltz, for about 14 miles, around the eastern periphery of Superstition Wilderness. I opted to take the trail for 3 miles, then, with a group from Phoenix, went up Terrapin Trail and Bluff Springs Trail, back to the parking area. Seventeen miles in one day is enough, don’t ya think?
Here are some tidbits of parts two and three of this series.
Rhyolite formation, along Peralta Canyon Trail
Castle-like formation, near Fremont Saddle
Future chorus members?
The Thinker, Bluff Springs Trail
The consensus among the four of us, at the end of the day, was: ‘It’s best to not have to sleep under the stars tonight’. Back in the settled environs of Apache Junction, I stopped to gas up and to rehydrate myself with electrolytes. As I sat in the car afterwards, sipping my beverage, a jeep pulled up alongside. Out hopped a lovely young woman, bikini-clad and in flip flops, and moving with a purpose. She came back a few minutes later, with a similar beverage, smiled wanly and drove off. My thoughts are that life is always beautiful to those who show respect. The rhyolite edifices, the wildflowers, the emerging frogs, my fellow hikers, random beautiful people, and even the heard but unseen snakes- all deserve nothing but love and respect. In this way, we shall have peace.
Part 2- The Rocks and Buttes, tomorrow.